Bill Donohue pulls out of NYC Pride because he opposes information and safety sessions

Catholic League President Bill Donohue made a really big deal about his intention to march in the NYC Pride March this summer. He expected to be rejected because he's straight (not the only straight person in the march), or he's Catholic (not the only Catholic in the march), or because he's a political conservative (again…not the only one in the march).

But he was told that he could register. Not only that, GLAAD's President, Sarah Kate Ellis, offered to walk alongside of him down 5th Avenue to the historic Stonewall Inn. He's been welcomed with open arms.

But now Bill has pulled out. Why? Why would he abandon his opportunity to show up the LGBT community by marching in the largest Pride March in the country?

Actually, since he started this stunt, Bill has been trying to find a way to both get out of having to do the event, and to make himself look like the victim. He admits as much in the statement he published yesterday on the Catholic League web site:

The purpose of my request was to see just how far they would go without forcing me to abide by their rules.

So, Bill admits that this whole marching in Pride thing was just a stunt. He wasn't genuine, he just wanted to make a point. He believed that NYC Pride had the same discriminatory rules as the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade. Then they told him he was welcome to register. And GLAAD's President invited him to march with her.

He thought that LGBT people were anti-straight and would be offended at his "Straight is Great" banner. The day after he made his announcement that he was going to do march, he complained about "impossible conditions" to Newsmax:

 "I said, look I want to be clear, can I march with my banner 'Straight is Great?' My members will wear t-shirts 'Straight is Great' – I'm waiting for the final answer …

"Before I attend your training sessions, I just want to know.... They're not giving me an unequivocal answer."

Unfortunately, that turned out to be a lie. In a statement to The New Civil Rights Movement, NYC Pride said:

Mr. Donohue sought prior approval on his group’s slogan, “Straight is Great.” We acknowledged his message and said the text was fine. At no point have we instructed Mr. Donohue as to what must be printed on his group’s shirts. The NYC Pride March Rules & FAQs sheet can be found here (as public on our website): http://www.nycpride.org/uploads/2013NYCPrideMarch-Rules&FAQs.pdf

But now Bill has found the impossible roadblock: information and safety sessions.

Bill Donohue objects to safety trainings.

I'm using the words "objects" and "reject" intentionally, because that's how he frames it. Here's more of his statement through the Catholic League:

Today, I informed Heritage of Pride officials that I objected to their rule requiring me to attend gay training sessions, or what they call “information” sessions. “I don’t agree with your rule,” I said. They responded by saying that attendance was “mandatory.”

It is hypocritical for gay activists to complain about having to abide by the mandatory rules of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and then inform me that I cannot march in their parade unless I respect their mandatory rules, rules that I reject.

NYC Pride also doesn't understand how this training was a dealbreaker. "We hold March information and safety sessions, referred to as group leader trainings, so our participants are fully aware of rules and procedures come event day," said David Studinksi of NYC Pride. "These trainings address line-up times, check-in locations, our moment of silence, dispersal activity, NYPD safety policies, attire and vehicle/sound permits. It is imperative group leaders know this information. "

By choosing the information and safety session as his primary objection, it seems that Bill doesn't want this to be a smooth and safe event for everyone.

And with that, Bill feels that he cannot rightfully march alongside of LGBT people, straight allies, Catholics, political leaders, corporations, service organizations, and of course, GLAAD, at the 2014 Pride March.

Good luck to the Heritage of Pride participants. I may be watching it from afar, but I sure won’t be downing a Guinness afterwards.

Bill, the door is still open for you to participate, and Sarah Kate's offer still stands. If you feel like you can drag yourself to a safety training session to pick up your permit, you will still be welcome. Of course, space is filling up!

 

Full statement from Cathlic League:

GAY PRIDE PARADE WON’T BEND ITS RULES

March 21, 2014 by Bill   
Filed under Latest News Releases

Bill Donohue comments on his exchange with officials from New York’s Heritage of Pride parade:

For the past few days I have been engaged in an e-mail conversation with officials from the Heritage of Pride parade, New York’s annual gay event; the dialogue has been cordial. I asked to join the parade under a banner that would read, “Straight is Great.” The purpose of my request was to see just how far they would go without forcing me to abide by their rules. It didn’t take long before they did.

Today, I informed Heritage of Pride officials that I objected to their rule requiring me to attend gay training sessions, or what they call “information” sessions. “I don’t agree with your rule,” I said. They responded by saying that attendance was “mandatory.”

The St. Patrick’s Day parade has mandatory rules, too. It bars groups representing their own cause from marching, which is why pro-life Catholics—not just gays—are barred from participating under their own banner. But only gays complain: they refuse to abide by the rules. Indeed, they went into federal court seeking to force a rule change. They lost. In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that private parades have a First Amendment right to determine their own rules.

It is hypocritical for gay activists to complain about having to abide by the mandatory rules of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and then inform me that I cannot march in their parade unless I respect their mandatory rules, rules that I reject.

Good luck to the Heritage of Pride participants. I may be watching it from afar, but I sure won’t be downing a Guinness afterwards.

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