For 250 years, organizers in New York City have held an annual parade in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. In none of those 250 parades have LGBT marchers been allowed to participate under their own banner. This Saturday will mark the 251st annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and once again, LGBT groups will be shut out.
Organizers from Irish Catholic fraternal organization “the Ancient Order of Hibernians” are completely out of step with modern society. In 2008, organizers likened the idea of LGBT people marching in a St. Patrick’s Day parade to a “Neo-Nazi group” marching in an Israeli parade, or the KKK marching in an African American parade. But members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians are not the only ones who have responsibility here.
Once again this year, New York’s NBC Affiliate is airing - and thereby undoubtedly financially supporting - this discriminatory event. In fact, the Grand Marshall of this year's parade is Francis X. Comerford, Chief Revenue Officer and President of WNBC.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a New York tradition. But so is community spirit. So is standing up for your fellow New Yorkers. So is diversity and inclusion. What message is WNBC sending its LGBT and allied viewers?
"The idea that a group of LGBT people aren't allowed to participate in a parade in the middle of New York City in the year 2012 is completely out of touch with a majority of Americans - regardless of ethnicity or religion - and it is frankly indefensible” said GLAAD's Vice President of Programs and Communications, Herndon Graddick. “GLAAD will be requesting to meet with WNBC to ensure that, if such discriminatory practices remain in place, the event isn't one associated with such an important and inclusive media outlet that should represent the full diversity of New York City."
Americans – and especially New Yorkers – love and support their LGBT friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers. But not only is this discrimination out of step with Americans and New Yorkers, it’s out of step with a majority of Catholics, who have said they support LGBT equality and inclusion in poll after poll after poll.
It’s also out of step with the leadership of Ireland. Last year, Ireland’s then-President Mary McAleese was invited to be Grand Marshal, but declined to be a part of it. While she did not give a reason, reports from Ireland suggested that she pulled out due to the non-inclusion of LGBT groups in the parade – a move that was strongly supported in the Irish media.
And as Rev. Kevin O’Hara from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Queens Village told us, it's even out of step with Saint Patrick himself.
St. Patrick did his glorious ministry not by condemning or excluding anyone, but inviting them to experience the miracle of God’s love. Excluding lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people from a commemoration of St. Patrick is a disservice to his memory and ministry.
WNBC should not support the exclusion of Irish LGBT people from a parade celebrating their own history and lineage, especially when that exclusion goes against everything this day is supposed to stand for.
Earlier this month, members of the Irish community hosted the 'St. Pats for All' parade, an inclusive parade in Queens, New York in which LGBT people were able to show their Irish pride without hiding their sexual orientation.