San Diego Police Department's LGBT community liaison stepped down after a decade in the role following similar exclusions for uniformed officers implemented by San Diego Pride and the San Diego LGBT Community Center.
The former liaison, Lt. Daniel Meyer, in an open letter published last week said the exclusions "quite simply provides for giant leaps backward in history."
Earlier in June San Diego Pride announced it was banning San Diego law enforcement agencies from participating in the organization's wildly popular annual festival in the streets of Hillcrest.
The following week, the LGBT Center followed with a board vote to ban armed, uniformed officers from coming into the center for no emergency reasons.
"Decades ago, an opposite argument existed," Meyer wrote. "That argument was fostered in disappointment. Community disappointment that their Police Department would not participate in the Gay Pride parade. This was seen by the community as a lack of support for the LGBT community, rightfully so. Eventually, through community engagement and effort from both sides of the table, law enforcement began to foster those necessary relationships and walk hand-in-hand with the community in Pride every year. Additionally, we have had a long-standing relationship of cooperation and understanding with The LGBT Center. The decision to remove law enforcement from Pride and The LGBT Center quite simply provides for giant leaps backward in history."
Pride said its ban on officer participation was a show of support for the Black LGBT community which has long felt left out of the community relations progress between police and the larger LGBT community -- progress Lt. Meyer and his department said could be fractured by recent decisions.
"While I recognize the decision made by San Diego Pride and The LGBT Center does not represent the LGBT community as a whole, it does in fact reflect the opinions and standing of two of the most prominent and influential organizations in our community. San Diego Pride and The LGBT Center have made a clear statement in their actions. As LGBT liaison, I cannot support these decisions because doing so simply negates the amazing work done over decades."
A statement from SDPD called Pride's decision disappointing "because further divide is not what we need at this critical time."
Pride's Executive Director Fernando Lopez said the decision isn't necessarily forever.
"When they meet our mission statement of treating all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities equally and with respect then maybe we’ll let them back in," Lopez told NBC 7.
The LGBT Center said keeping armed, uniforms officers out of the center for non-emergency business wasn't about exclusion, but about protection for its own community.
“This is not about good or bad individual law enforcement officers, but rather a systemic problem in law enforcement that devalues Black lives and creates an environment in which our Black community does not feel welcomed, and in fact strikes fear and trauma,” a statement from the Center said.
Center CEO Cara Dessert said unarmed, plain-clothed law enforcement are more than welcome at the facilities, adding "This is about a uniform and a gun that makes people feel unsafe.”
SDPD's transgender community liaison Christine Garcia will remain in her role, according to Meyer's letter.
Greg Miraglia came out in 2004, is an LGBT activist and was a police officer in California for more than 30 years. He said he understands the need for reform, but believes Pride's approach is wrong.
"Pride for me all along, and some of the basic messages all along, is a call for inclusion and a call for equality and to be part of greater society and our culture, and so any time I’ve seen a pride organization, and in this case San Diego Pride, shut out anyone, I think it's really hypocritical," he said.