Three major beer companies pulled support from the Boston and New York City St. Patrick’s Day parades, which were held this past Sunday and Monday, respectively.
After failing in an attempt to reverse the decision by Boston’s parade committee forbidding LGBT groups to march openly, Boston Beer, who manufactures the popular Sam Adams brand, ultimately decided to withdraw sponsorship from the entire parade.
Similarly, Heineken and Guinness both pulled support from the New York City parade. A statement from a Guinness spokesperson announced that the company “has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all” and that along with withdrawing sponsorship from this year’s event, would also “work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusion policy,”
These breweries were not the only significant public entities to opt out of participating in the parades due to the organizers’ policies. Mayor Marty Walsh did not march in Boston’s parade Sunday, stating that his decision was in line with his effort “to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life our city.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio chose to march in Queens’ “St. Pat’s for All” parade instead of Manhattan’s, as the former did not forbid open marching by LGBT citizens.
The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, who was responsible for organizing the Boston parade, stated online that it is not opposed to LGBT citizens, but would not allow evidence of sexual orientation to be put on public display.
In the midst of the large corporate support for gay and lesbian groups, there have been critics condemning the companies’ decisions. Boston’s Cornerstone Pub has decided not to carry Sam Adams indefinitely following Boston Beer’s decision to back out of the parade.
Owners John Flaherty and Thomas Flaherty, Sr. clarified that they “don’t have a problem with gay people,” but that the brewery’s decision was an offense to veterans who were depending on the company’s financial support of the annual parade.
However, MassEquality, a pro LGBT rights organization, praised the breweries' decision. Kara Coredini, the group’s Executive Director, commented, “It’s so important to us that such a strong hometown brand made such a statement for the inclusion of LGBT people.”
Although neither MassEquality nor Mayor Walsh marched in this year’s parade, both have hope going forward that LGBT marchers will receive the full recognition that they are demanding.