Fargo Gay Pride March Gets Thousands In Sponsorships From State, Local Government

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The Fargo-Moorhead Pride Collective is holding their Fargo-Moorhead Pride event from August 8th to August 11th. Among the events are bowling, dances and a 5k run.

What’s interesting is that the event is getting taxpayer dollars. According to the website for the event, both the City of Fargo and NDQuits (a division of the State of North Dakota’s anti-tobacco agency) have sponsored the event in the past, or are sponsoring it presently.

“The Fargo Human Relations Commission was a Pride sponsor in the amount of $500 last year,” Dan Mahli from the City of Fargo told me in an email. “It has not received a request to sponsor the event this year.”

NDQuits has a much more substantial commitment to this year’s event. According to the North Dakota Department of Health’s Tobacco Program Director Krista Fremming, the event has received $2,500 in state dollars which purchases a booth at the event and advertising in the 2013 FM Pride Guide and on the website.

“As you may know, the Department of Health works to educate and provide tobacco cessation support services to all tobacco users, especially to those with the highest tobacco use rates, including the LGBT community,” Fremming told me in an email.

Going beyond the question of whether the government ought to be hectoring us about our personal habits, is it really appropriate for the government to be sponsoring events like this one?

Let me ask you this question: Would the City of Fargo and NDQuits sponsor a gun show? A pro-life rally? A tea party event?

I’m guessing they probably wouldn’t, and nor should they. Sponsoring such events is not the proper role of government.

I’ve got nothing against the Fargo-Moorhead Pride event – as a supporter of gay rights, I hope it’s successful – but it’s irksome to see taxpayer dollars used in this manner.

The war chest state dollars the state’s anti-tobacco crusaders stand astride, in particular, shouldn’t be treated as a slush fund for the aid of political causes. Maybe the anti-tobacco folks think this sponsorship is an appropriate part of pursuing their mandate to combat tobacco use, but it’s not appropriate for the state to be seen endorsing political causes.

Maybe the anti-tobacco folks should have thought of that before they pushed to have themselves enshrined as a state agency.

In related news, SAB readers will remember a previous post about the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau marketing their community as gay friendly.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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