St. Patty’s Day Parade Attempt To Include Gays Pisses Everyone Off
New York St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers tried to appease gay and lesbian activists without compromising the parade’s Catholic heritage this year — and the move backfired.
Thousands of gay and lesbian people march in the parade every year, but organizers do not allow them to march as an explicit group, in an effort to keep the parade non-political. It’s traditionally a broader celebration of Irish Catholic heritage.
But after losing several big sponsors and the support of the mayor last year, organizers tried to cater to gay activists without losing Catholic support by allowing one gay group and one pro-life group to march as their own entities in 2015.
Gay activists are still planning a boycott of the parade, saying it’s still not inclusive enough and calling the move an empty gesture. The only group allowed to march is affiliated with NBC, which just so happens to broadcast the parade.
Rather than march behind the generic Out@NBCUniversal banner, or behind the county or heritage organization banners, various Irish gay and lesbian groups want to march under their own separate banners. “This never was about just having any old gay group,” city councilman Daniel Dromm told The Wall Street Journal. “It was always about having an Irish group.”
A pro-life group is also unhappy, because organizers reneged on their promise to allow a pro-life group to march. “One group each — that was the deal,” Elizabeth Rex, president of the Children First Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Our mission is to promote adoption and safe havens. It’s not controversial.”
The group had to get a lawyer just to find out what the status of its application to march was. Finally the organizers rejected its application, saying another group will be allowed to march. But Rex contacted other pro-life groups, and has not heard of anyone else planning to march.
“That’s not treating this other pro life group fairly because the gay group has had four months to tell everyone they’ll be marching and recruiting support.”
A coalition of gay activists announced Tuesday they are organizing a boycott. “To suggest again, for the 25th year, that we have to closet ourselves in order to be allowed into the parade is outrageous,” Emmaia Gelman of the group Irish Queers told The Wall Street Journal.
Parade organizers indicated more groups might be able to sign up next year, and NBC Universal called the move only a “first step towards an increasingly inclusive era” for the parade.
“We have to take it one step at at a time, reassess and then make a judgment,” top parade official Hilary Beirne said Tuesday.
Rex told TheDCNF she hopes a pro-life group is allowed to march, and that all the fuss doesn’t ruin the parade. “You don’t force people to go against their beliefs or the purpose of the parade,” she said. “I think we need to show tolerance and mutual respect, and I hope everyone will behave themselves and make it a happy day.”
The parade organizers did not respond to a request for comment.
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