June 12, 2017 at 7:51 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Del. Norton, Capital Pride disagree over why she missed parade
Norton at Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) marching in the 2016 Capital Pride Parade. Norton and Capital Pride are sparring over her absence from the parade this year. (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is attributing her absence from this weekend’s Capital Pride parade to the lack of an invitation to the event and a requirement that she pay to take part, although organizers dispute her account and say the fee is customary.

Benjamin Fritsch, a Norton spokesperson, said in a statement shared with the Washington Blade and other media outlets the delegate “assumed she would go to the Capital Pride Parade” — which he said she has done each year even before her nearly 26 years in Congress — but this year never received an invite.

“She has always received a letter of invitation from the parade organizers, but this year did not receive one, so her staff reached out to them well in time for her to participate,” Fritsch said. “The organizers said they would put her on a waitlist. They also said that the congresswoman would have to pay more than $600, and an additional smaller fee to be put on the waitlist. Therefore, she decided not to participate.”

Although Norton was absent from the parade, other officials who took part included D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), D.C. Council member and former D.C. Mayor Vince Gray (D-Ward 7).

Bernie Delia, president of Capital Pride Alliance, responded to Norton by saying organizers have never extended invitations to elected officials to participate in the event at least the past nine years.

“Months in advance of the parade we inform prior parade entrants that the registration is open,” Delia said. “In this case we did what we have always done – hold a spot in the line-up for D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton for when she showed up, as she has done for every previous Capital Pride Parade.”

Delia said a Norton staffer called late last week seeking to register. Although the staffer was told that would result in an automated system generating an email indicating Norton was on a wait list, Capital Pride organizers explained they would manually override that and place the delegate’s contingent in the parade, Delia said.

The $600 fee, Delia said, is standard for participation in the parade and the same amount charged to all political contingents in the past. Delia acknowledged Capital Pride charges a $10 fee for being on the wait list, but said Norton was never really on it and that $10 “is credited to the account balance for the entry fee.”

“We regret the confusion and look forward to Del. Norton’s participation in future Capital Pride Parades,” Delia concluded.

Delia’s assertion that all political entrants must pay a $600 fee is consistent with Capital Pride’s website, which says “all politicians/individuals with a legislative agenda that are or will be running for political office” are considered “Tier 2” non-profits and must pay a $600 fee for participation in the parade.

The kerfuffle between Norton and Capital Pride organizers came as No Justice No Pride protesters disrupted the parade and forced it to be rerouted over objections to involvement of police and corporate sponsors in the event as well as insufficient diversity on the Capital Pride board.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • The fee is “customary”?! What’s that supposed to mean? Are they trying to imply the fee was nothing but a “custom” and therefore actually voluntary? Because that it is not. I actually think Norton unless she is an LGBTQ individual should damn well pay a fee to be in the parade. Only LGBTQ people/orgs have any right to complain about there being fees. I’m no fan of Norton, it sounds like she needs to check herself. But Capital Pride charges hundreds of dollars to local volunteer-run LGBTQ orgs for a spot in the parade or festival. My organizations couldn’t afford it.

    • Bowser and staff were there…does she not talk to our Mayor? She’s not an LGBTQ organization …she can afford it.

      • Given her lack of serious political opposition, if her political organization cannot afford $600, well, that’s on her. Thank you.

        • She receives $400,000 in donations every election cycle, some of it in big chunks from real estate development companies. (You can research it at OpenSecrets.) She then spends the money largely on some local suburban firms that do accounting and printing for her campaign. I always wonder if they are relatives.

  • Well, it’s not like anyone missed her or something. We’ll recover.

  • I hope she wasn’t planning on driving the car

  • So she had another senior moment? Like when she couldn’t park her car?

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