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El Paso County Colorado Progressive Veterans have been excluded from the Colorado Springs Veterans Day Parade slated for Nov. 6. The parade will span Tejon Street from Boulder to Vermijo streets.

Eileen Howe, a parade organizer, says the EPCCPV group was excluded because it has endorsed political candidates on its website and "we are an apolitical organization."

"We don't allow any military organizations to portray any kind of political stance in the parade," Howe tells the Indy by phone.

Howe also said, "On their website, they talk about wanting to encourage vets to vote the Democratic ticket." Asked if vet groups that promote Republican candidates are allowed in the parade, she said no.

Howe pointed to a Supreme Court decision regarding a parade in Boston in 1990s from which an LGBT group was excluded and the exclusion was upheld by the Supreme Court. Read about that case here.

"We're not fighting about it," Howe said. "The court decided how it was going to happen. The parade has the ability, what type of parade they want to run.... None of our participants can hand out literature, candy, they cannot sell stuff on the side of the street.

"This is strictly a time for military to come down the street and be recognized and cheered by the public," she said. "It is a time for children waiving their flags and being part of the parade. This group took the wrong step and it's not going to happen. Everybody that's in the parade signs a statement that says they  understand this is apolitical and they can't do this stuff."

The Progressive Vets group didn't plan to campaign for any candidates during the parade, but rather participate by walking the parade route, spokesman Kent Jarnig said in an email. The group has been refused entry in the parade for the previous two years, so it had planned to walk with the Colorado 101st Airborne Association. When the parade organizers found out, they expelled the progressive group.

Though some members suggested carrying partisan signs, Jarnig said in an email he wouldn't allow it.

"As you can imagine, I have been getting a lot of emails and calls from members," he said. "Consensus now is to offer a FREE light breakfast before the parade for all Veterans and their families...."

Jarnig acknowledges the previous court case is "settled law" and adds, "The issue isn't legality, but it is discrimination against a large segment of our Military Veterans."

He also notes the group has members who are registered Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

Also, the 1,053-member group has attained status as a 501(c)4, veterans social welfare organization, and states on its website, "People have questioned us as to the word 'Progressive' in our name. What the word means to us is: forward-looking; dynamic; reforming; innovative. We are made up of people politically on the left, on the right and independents. We came together to make things better...for Veterans, Active Duty Military and their families."

The website notes it has information on more than 100 Veteran support and benefit groups listed, with hot links to their websites, which include "homeless solutions, FREE trained support dogs, FREE scuba diving lessons and even how to get FREE Colorado license plates. We have also included excellent information on how to apply for VA Healthcare and Disability Benefits."

Under a separate tab, the website lists the 2022 election candidates the group supports, which include Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, State Sen. Pete Lee and State Rep. Marc Snyder, all Democrats.

But the home page also contains this quote from President Ronald Reagan, a Republican: "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference. Veterans don't have that problem."

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.