John M. Becker

NYC Mayor Boycotting St. Patrick's Day Parade to Show Support for LGBTs

Filed By John M. Becker | February 04, 2014 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Bill de Blasio, Bill Donohue, Catholicism, Catholics, Manhattan, New York City, St. Patrick's Day, St. Patrick's Day parade

bill-deblasio.JPGIn a gesture of support for the LGBT community, Bill de Blasio, the new mayor of New York City, announced today that he will skip the city's renowned St. Patrick's Day Parade because of the organizers' longstanding policy of banning gay groups from marching. De Blasio is continuing a longstanding personal boycott of the parade that he started when he served as the city's public advocate.

He will be the first mayor in decades to shun the parade.

The Associated Press reports:

"I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city," said de Blasio on Tuesday during an unrelated press conference at City Hall. "But I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade."

The parade, a tradition that predates the city itself, draws more than 1 million people each March 17 to line one of Manhattan's most famous thoroughfares to watch about 200,000 participants. It has long been a mandatory stop on the city's political trail, and will include marching bands, traditional Irish dancers and thousands of uniformed city workers.

Since the 1990s, the event's ban on pro-gay signs and banners has spurred protests and litigation and led to the creation of an alternative, gay-friendly St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens. In recent years, several elected officials -- including de Blasio when he was public advocate -- attended the inclusive parade and boycotted the traditional parade.

Though de Blasio's predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage rights, he still marched in the Fifth Avenue parade all 12 years he was in office. Rudolph Giuliani also participated every year he was mayor.

De Blasio declined to heed a call from LGBT advocates who asked him to ban uniformed city workers from marching in the parade altogether, in solidarity with LGBT marchers who are similarly forbidden from identifying themselves. The mayor said he'd leave it up to each individual worker to make that decision for themselves.

Of course, Bill Donohue -- the windbag troll president of the so-called Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (who hates gays so much he once claimed gay dogs get special rights in high-kill shelters) -- wasted no time in trying to spin this to his advantage.

"Personally, I am delighted," he told the AP. "I lead the Catholic League contingent every year, and I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics."

Actually, a clear majority of Catholics support marriage equality (and this has been the case for several years), but why let pesky facts get in the way, right?

h/t: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement.

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