City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has announced that the she will be joining Mayor Bill de Blasio in boycotting the St. Patrick's Day Parade down New York’s 5th Avenue. Council Speaker Viverito stated there will be "no official City Council presence at the parade, no banner and no Sergeant-at-Arms present." Council Speaker Viverito told The Gothamist: "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."
Instead of the 5th Avenue parade, Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Viverito along with countless other notable New York politicians, will be marching in the LGBT inclusive “St. Pat’s For All” Parade in Queens.
When de Blasio announced his decision to boycott the parade, Hilary Beirne, of the NYC St. Patricks' Day Parade organization, told the Wall Street Journal the parade isn't discriminatory and that it is a "celebration of Irish heritage and culture—nothing more, nothing less." Beirne said gays and lesbians can march—they just can't identify themselves as gay with signs. Beirner said, "There's another parade in New York City that celebrates being gay and being lesbian, and that's the Gay Pride Parade. Our parade is specifically for a celebration of our Irish heritage and our culture."
In her statement, Mark-Viverito added, "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."
Rory O’Neill, also known as “Panti Bliss”, is the Irish gay activist and drag queen, who gained the world’s attention after she gave a passionate and heartwarming speech about LGBT equality at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin this month and was aired on YouTube. She will also be joining the St. Pat's for All parade.
“Many thanks to Executive Director Aidan Connolly and the Irish Arts Center for bringing Panti Bliss to the 2014 St Pats For All parade in New York City. Panti Bliss has inspired an international conversation on homophobia and hope," said St. Pat’s for All Co-Chair Brendan Fay. "Even the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin responded. He said that ‘anybody who doesn't show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that – they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people.’"
The Church of St. Francis Xavier’s Gay Catholic Ministry, Catholic Lesbian Ministry along with St. Francis Xavier’s Peace and Justice Ministry, will be marching in the “St. Pat’s For All” parade in support of the the LGBT community. In the invite to parishioners, the Gay Catholic Ministry uses the church of St. Francis Xavier’s mission statement as to why they are marching in the LGBT inclusive parade: “where seekers and their questions are welcomed, where injustice is challenged, where the poor, the alienated and the marginalized find a home, and where people are refreshed, reconciled and renewed”.
GLAAD applaudes Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Viverito, along with all those marching in the "St Pat’s For All" parade for their loving support. The St. Pat’s For All parade is more representative of the diversity in New York by welcoming all. Come celebrate your Irish heritage at the St. Pat’s For All parade. After all, we are all a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. For more information about the St. Pat's For All parade visit StPatsForAll.com.
The Gothamist has more on the story.