Boston Mayor Urges People to Boycott St. Patrick’s Day Parade After It Bans Gay Group

"I will not tolerate discrimination in our city in any form."

by Brian Moylan
Mar 9 2017, 7:35pm

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker are both planning to skip Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade after the organizers voted to bar a group of gay veterans from participating, the New York Times reports.

Walsh even issued a statement on Twitter urging residents of America's most Irish city to skip the parade as well. "I will not tolerate discrimination in our city in any form," he wrote Wednesday.

Governor Baker echoed the sentiment on Wednesday, telling reporters, "If veterans' groups aren't allowed to march in that parade for whatever reason, then I'll probably do something else."

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council—which organizes the annual parade held in the city's traditionally Irish Southie neighborhood—voted nine to four on Tuesday night to bar the group OutVets from participating. OutVets, which represents LGBTQ veterans, had been able to march for the past two years without any objections. 

The Allied War Veterans Council's code of conduct doesn't explicitly ban gay groups from participating, but "will not allow the advertisement or display of one's sexual orientation as a topic that should in any way be depicted as a theme of our parade."

OutVets founder Bryan Bishop told the Times that organizers said that the group's logo was in violation of the policy because it includes a rainbow insignia. "They said people felt that rainbows represent the gay community," Bishop said. "I told them if that's the case, then every picture of a rainbow in the parade that leads to a pot of gold needs to be removed."

Aside from Walsh and Baker refusing to attend, Boston city council member Michael Flaherty called those who voted against OutVets "nitwits" and Massachusetts senator Ed Markey said he would also skip the parade unless OutVets is allowed to participate.

Fallout from the vote was immediate. Dan Magoon, executive director of Fallen Heroes, resigned as the parade's marshal after the vote, the supermarket chain Stop & Shop dropped out as a sponsor, and Anheuser-Busch is "reevaluating" its sponsorship of the event. According to the Associate Press, the backlash has caused parade organizers to plan an emergency meeting for Friday to reconsider the controversial vote.