Guinness today announced that the beer company would drop its sponsorship of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade due to the parade's discriminatory rule that prohibits LGBT families and organizations from participating.
In a statement released today, Guinness said:
Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.
"Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated," said GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis. "As a gay mom who has fond memories of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade, it saddens me that I can't give those same memories to my own kids because my family isn't welcome. Hopefully, as parade organizers realize that anti-LGBT discrimination is not supported by sponsors, or many Irish New Yorkers, they'll see that families like mine should be part of the celebration."
Stonewall Inn, which had planned to stop selling Guinness because of the sponsorship, confirmed today that it looks forward to serving Guinness on St. Patrick's Day and beyond. A previously scheduled event at Stonewall was canceled in light of the news.
On Friday, after GLAAD reached out to sponsors of the parade as part of our work to push for equality for LGBT people in all parts of our culture, Heineken dropped its sponsorship, saying that the company is "passionate about equality for all people." Also on Friday, following outreach from MassEquality, Sam Adams announced that it, too, would drop its sponsorship of the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, which also bans LGBT people from taking part.
Ford Motors remains the last major American corporation to continue its support of the discriminatory parade. In a statement to CNBC last week, Ford said:
Ford Motor Company is involved in a wide range of events and organizations in communities across the country and around the world, including long-standing participation in this parade. No one person, group or event reflects Ford's views on every issue. What we can tell you is that Ford is proud of its inclusive policies. Every member of the Ford team is valued, and we provide employee benefits regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
New York City-based organization Irish Queers, a group that has been leading the work to end the ban on LGBT participation in the parade for many years, has also expressed dismay at the NYPD's participation in the parade, noting that "City agencies don’t have 'free speech right' to bypass anti-bias rules." New York City has strict anti-discrimination policies in place that protect LGBT New Yorkers from discrimination by government agencies like the NYPD.
“The homophobic bigotry of this parade is reaffirmed each year by the organizers," said JF Mulligan of Irish Queers. "The NYPD’s insistence on sending huge uniformed contingents every year makes it clear that the rights of our communities don’t concern them. Commissioner Bratton hasn’t even acknowledged the community’s outrage. If the NYPD and the City refuses to uphold their own anti-bias rules, how can we trust police officers with our safety?”
Irish Queers will be holding a press conference during this year's parade on Monday, March 17 at 10:30am ET (30 minutes before parade), between 56th & 57th Streets on the west side of Fifth Ave.