New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is 253 years old this March 17th. Saint Patrick’s Day or Feast of St. Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration of the traditional death date of St. Patrick (c.AD 385-461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
What It’s Become
What started out as a celebration of Irish heritage, the wearing of Green, the Grand Marshal and the Irish Wolfhound leading the parade marchers waving flags, has turned into a controversy of who gets to parade? In recent years, Cardinal Dolan would not let gay groups march as their stance on equal marriage conflicted with the Roman Catholic view of marriage as defined between a man and a woman, yet he is the Grand Marshal this year, thanks to the influence and a softening of the exclusion of LGBT persons by His Holiness Pope Francis. Said Cardinal Dolan, “ after receiving numerous complaints from Catholics, “OUT@NBCUNIVERSAL is not promoting an agenda contrary to church teaching, but simply identifying themselves as gay people of Irish Ancestry.”
PARADE ORGANIZERS VS. ACTIVISTS
The anti-gay stance of the tourist-friendly Manhattan Parade is at odds with not only Ireland that heads towards a national referendum on marriage equality, but with a prevailing U.S. attitude that gay marriage is acceptable.
The corporate sponsor NBC planned on having an LGBT contingent marching under an OUT@NBC banner, will be the only gay group allowed to carry a gay pride sign. But this decision has drawn criticism. As City Council Member Daniel Dromm said: “The issue has never been about having a gay group in the parade. It has always been about having an Irish gay group.
Boycotting The NYC Parade
LGBT groups are set to boycott the Parade tomorrow. Even the Mayor and The City Council won’t attend because of the controversy surrounding the exclusion of LGBT groups. De Blasio chose to participate instead in a Queens smaller gay-friendly parade. He also boycotted the NYC 2014 St. Patrick’s Parade, along with Guinness, due to its absence of LGBT groups. This year, Guinness, as well as Heineken, will march.
Other Cities, Other Agendas
The capital’s annual parade last Sunday had more than forty people led by the Center for the LGBT Community, The parade has always been inclusive.
Beantown for the first time made history last Sunday when gay groups marched openly for the first time in years. Until now, gay rights groups have been barred by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council from marching in the parade that sometimes can draw as many as a million spectators yearly.
Two gay and lesbian groups, Boston Pride and OutVets joined the parade last Sunday. They were joined by Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and other Massachusetts political leaders. Although Boston is heavily Catholic, Massachusetts was the first U.S. State to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.