The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a historically revered celebration in South Boston. While still over a month away, the prohibition of LGBT floats from the parade has caught the attention of Bostonians.
The St. Vincent’s Lower End Neighborhood Association and the South Boston Association of Non-Profits applied for permission to have a diversity-themed float, but as of now LGBT floats and demonstrations are not permitted in the St. Patty’s Day Parade on March 17. Their applications remain under consideration.
The MassEquality group float was denied entrance into the parade on the basis of the 1995 US Supreme Court decision, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, which held that parade organizers are free to legally exclude openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals from participating.
“We still have 50-plus days left to go before the parade starts, and I would love to march in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade this year,” Mayor Walsh said to the Boston Globe. “We have to make sure it’s inclusive, and I’m going to be working with some folks to hopefully see what we can do.”
Head of the Parade, Philip Wuschke, has tried to explain that the rejection is not a ban on the LGBT community, but rather blocking groups attempting to turn the parade into “a demonstration rather than a celebration."
“There are many gay people who march in the parade. We don’t sit there and ask every group if they have gay people,” he said to the Globe. “That would be ridiculous. All we do is look at the group.”
Both St. Vincent’ Lower End Association and the South Boston Association of Non-Profits has stated they are not attempting to make the parade a demonstration.
“If I’m going to carry a big sign and make some big statement, you should throw me out," Randy Foster, a gay Iraq war veteran part of the St. Vincent group, told the Boston Globe. “If you’re going to make a political statement, you should stay home. And you don’t change minds by boycotting. This is about taking a crack in the door and opening it a little wider by engaging.”
The outrage towards the rejection of MassEquality’s application has permeated the political sphere. Former Mayor Thomas Menino, for example, has promised to boycott the parade until the ban is lifted, while the current Mayor Marty Walsh is optimistic of a compromise
MassEquality Executive Director, Kara Coredini, has responded to the rejection. “Since when does being open and proud of being an LGBTQ person in the City of Boston send the ‘wrong message’? It’s stunning that in 2014 a high-profile cultural institution…would force LGBTQ people to retreat back into the closet in order to participate,” she said. “This is just another version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
The final decisions on the application of St. Vincent’ Lower End Association and the South Boston Association of Non-Profits have not yet been released.