NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade to Finally Include LGBT Groups
Good news for those who are both gay and have Irish pride: next year, New York City will allow LGBT groups to march in the St. Patricks Day parade with their own banners. Previously, there had been a ban on allowing gay groups to join in the famous event, which is the biggest in the world. The ban wasn’t specifically on LGBT people — they were allowed to march as long they were with other groups and weren’t carrying any sort of banners marking them as gay — but this was still clearly discriminatory.
The ban on gay groups marching in the parade was causing a lot of problems for the organizers — liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio did not want to march as long as the ban was in place, and Guinness refused to sponsor. Heineken withdrew its support as well. Other businesses have also threatened to take away their support if action was not taken.
Somewhat surprisingly, the decision was actually met without protest from many Catholics. In recent years, the Catholic Church has begun embracing LGBT people as individuals, while still standing against the possibility of gay marriage on an institutional level. The allowance of gay groups at the parade is another example of that shift. As the always delightful Stephen Colbert points out, everyone’s pretty much on board with the new rule:
Cardinal Timothy Dolan will actually be the grand marshal for next year’s parade, and he’s given his full support to the change in policy, stating:
My predecessors and I have always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades. As I do each year, I look forward to celebrating Mass in honor of Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and the Patron Saint of this Archdiocese, to begin the feast, and pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us.
The decision was mostly welcomed by the gay community. It was called a good small step by the Staten Island LGBT Community Center, whose communications manager Emilie Tippens said she hoped for a ripple effect to emerge in other circumstances where LGBT people face discrimination. However, the move did receive some ire from members of the LGBT community. Gay leaders claim that the parade rules were changed not because the organizers actually realized the error of their ways, but because they were forced to by financial and publicity concerns. As a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, Fed Sainz, explained:
In one of the world’s most diverse and inclusive cities, not to allow gay people to march was becoming an anachronistic decision that they could no longer reasonably justify.
While that may be true, it is still a good thing that gay groups will be allowed to march in the parade. The parade is a big draw, and a massive celebration, and for anyone to be restricted is truly a disservice.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [DonkeyHotey via Flickr]