After attempted negotiations between the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council and MassEquality, the latter's LGBT Veterans of Equality subgroup has been uninvited from the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade.
While the Council, which organizes the annual parade, has long banned LGBT organizations from participating, something resembling a compromise (albeit, one far from ideal) was reached, following Boston Mayor Martin "Marty" Walsh urging the parade become inclusive. Earlier this week, the Council agreed to invite MassEquality, according to The Rainbow Times, "provided no one wear T-shirts or carry signs identifying their sexual orientation. In other words, no indicators of gay pride or LGBT identity would be permitted." The group refers to this as the "no sexual orientation rule."
Days later, though, the invitation was revoked. Following a meeting at City Hall, the Council issued a press release claiming MassEquality's LGBT Veterans of Equality misrepresented itself, was not a legitimate veterans' group, and was "using a ploy to enter this parade under false pretenses." The statement continued, "It is our intention to keep this parade a family-friendly event. We will not allow any group to damage the integrity of this historic event, or our reputation as a safe and fun filled day for all."
Executive Director of MassEquality Kara Coredini responded to the rescinded invitation yesterday:
We were under the impression that negotiations were positive and ongoing, and we were surprised by the abrupt and hostile tone of the Parade organizers’ rejection. We know from experience that change comes through conversation and dialogue. We were encouraged to have an historic opportunity to meet face-to-face with Parade organizers to discuss a contingent involving LGBT veterans, and we did so with open hearts and open minds. We regret that the Parade organizers shut down conversation before an agreement could be finalized. MassEquality represents LGBT people across the lifespan. We were proud to work with a group of LGBT veterans to end the Department of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and those same veterans would have been proud to represent the end of the Parade’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. . . We are grateful to all of the elected leaders who declined to march in the Parade because of its history of exclusion. And we are grateful to Mayor Walsh for taking that leadership one step further by pushing for dialogue and reaching toward resolution.
You can read the full press releases from both organizations here.
Mayor Walsh has said he intends to follow the actions of the city's former mayor, Thomas Menino, and not attend the parade as long as anti-LGBT exclusion persists. Serving as Mayor from 1993 to 2013, Menino stopped marching in 1995 due to the policy.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio will become the first in his position in twenty years to not participate in the city's St. Patrick's Day parade, which also excludes LGBT participation. He and numerous other city officials have cited this policy as the reason. Over the weekend, Mayor de Blasio attended the inclusive St. Pat's for All Parade in Queens.