Venice Chamber of Commerce canceled Venice Pride’s membership, according to a letter from the Chamber attorney, Michael Wallerstein that was published on Blogtown. In the same letter, the Chamber disclosed that the Venice sign would be taken down in June for “unrelated maintenance,” effectively cancelling the Venice Pride sign lighting previously scheduled for June 1.
“The Venice Chamber of Commerce clearly has a disdain for Venice Pride and the LGBTQ+ community, but that is not a valid reason for terminating a membership or at least we hope it’s not,” Venice Pride Board President Grant Turck said in an interview via email.
The letter, dated February 22, did not state the reason Venice Pride’s membership was being cancelled.
Along with the termination of the membership, the Venice Sign Trademark License Agreement granted to Venice Pride on April 1, 2017 was revoked, meaning Venice Pride is no longer able to sell apparel such as the shirt pictured below.
The shirt, above, is no longer available to purchase on the Venice Pride website, but it is pictured on the shopping page at the time this article was published.
“We hereby demand that Venice Pride immediately cease and desist from using the Venice Sign trademark,” the letter stated. “If you do not cease and desist the infringing activity, we will be forced to take appropriate legal action against you and we will seek all available damages and remedies.”
Venice Pride has been a member of the Chamber since February 9, 2017.
“The Venice Chamber’s effort to obstruct Venice Pride from throwing what amounts to a free event open to the public that celebrates diversity and inclusion is shameful,” Turck said via email.
Turck responded to the Chamber with an open letter, stating that the Chamber did not provide appropriate notice or a chance to refute the claims.
“The Chamber never provided Venice Pride with the provisions of the Chamber’s procedures for termination of membership; 15 days’ prior notice of the termination and the reason(s); or an opportunity to be heard not less than five days before the effective date of the termination by a person or body authorized to decide that the proposed termination not take place,” Turck wrote in the letter.
Turck cited Corp. Code 7341 for a failure to follow fair and reasonable procedures for membership termination, stating that the cancellation was therefore void.
The letter then continues on to address the Venice Sign maintenance schedule.
“The Chamber’s decision to pull the plug on the Venice Sign for gay pride month due to ‘unrelated maintenance’ announced in a letter that purports to terminate Venice Pride’s membership without notice and for no reason is hateful and offensive,” Turck wrote.
In the letter, Venice Pride urges Chamber to “reverse course and to confirm its intention” in writing by Monday, March 18.
Breaching its ongoing commitment to Venice Pride and the global LGBTQ+ community on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising is not a good look,” the letter stated. “Nor is it the right thing to do.”
This story is developing; Click HERE to see the Chamber’s response. Check back online at thepridela.com for updates.