After 20-Year Ban, Gay Marchers Allowed In Boston St. Patty’s Day Parade
For the first time in 20 years, a gay rights group will be allowed to join Boston's St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Mayor Martin Walsh threatened to boycott the event if organizers didn’t allow MassEquality to participate in the March 15 parade. The group applied to march each year for the last four years.
"We don't ban gays, we just want to keep the parade an Irish parade," lead organizer Tim Duross told NBC News Saturday.
"Everyone knows who they are," he added. "They're a good organization, they help LGBT veterans, and if they help veterans they're OK with us.”
"That there is a conversation happening around allowing openly LGBT people to march in this parade is historic," said MassEquality executive director Kara Coredini.
Coredini is scheduled to meet with Duross on how the marchers will identify themselves in the parade. Coredini says the only meaningful change will be to allow gays to appear "openly."
"It's not political to want to be equal. It's not political to want to be visible and welcomed by your community," she said.
When asked whether Duross would agree to the rainbow flag being carried, he hesitated before saying, “If they put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and a leprechaun, then I think everyone would be happy.”
Gay rights advocates took the parade to the Supreme Court in 1995, but the high court ruled in favor of private organizers. They said they could exclude groups that disagreed with their message.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council plan to boycott the city’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade because it bans gay pride signs.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade,” de Blasio said at a February press conference.
“The St. Patrick’s Parade should be a time when all New Yorkers can come together and march openly as who they are- but right now that is not the case for the LGBT community,” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “This City Council is committed to celebrating and respecting the diversity of New York City and that is why we’ve decided to not participate in the parade. I hope the organizers will eventually realize that the parade will be better when all New Yorkers can march openly and proudly.”