Guinness has dropped its sponsorship of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade due to the parade organizers’ rule that gay and lesbian groups are not to identify themselves as gay while marching.
“Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation,” the company said in a statement released Sunday.
The city’s legendary Stonewall Inn said over the weekend it would be dropping Guinness beer from its shelves beginning Monday, March 17, before the beer company decided to pull out of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade. Heineken also withdrew its sponsorship.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would be boycotting the St. Patrick’s day parade in New York over the policy to ban marchers who carry gay-pride signs. It is the first time in 20 years that a New York mayor will opt out of the event.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade,” de Blasio said at a press conference last month. He will instead be marching in the neighboring borough of Queens.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh did not attend his city’s massive St. Patrick’s Day parade after the event’s sponsor, the South Boston Allied War Veterans’ Council, rejected an application by gay rights group MassEquality to allow 20 LGBT service members to participate and refused to budge on its decision.
“As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city. Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible,” Walsh said in a statement released Sunday.
Walsh made a last-ditch effort to the Council Thursday to try and reach a settlement, but the organizers wrote that the vets will only be allowed to march if they do not identify themselves as gay with signs or t-shirts. “It is our intention to keep this parade a family friendly event,” the group wrote. “We will not allow any group to damage the integrity of the historic event – or our reputation as a safe and fun filled day for all.”
Walsh wasn’t the only politician staying clear of the parade in Boston. More than 45 city councilors, state legislators who represent Boston, statewide elected officials, U.S. representatives and senators, and gubernatorial hopefuls will not be participating on Sunday, the politicians or their aides said.
A publicity firestorm ensued. Boston Beer Company, producer of Sam Adams brew, said it will no longer be sponsoring the parade in Boston on Sunday – an event that draws around 1 million to South Boston.
“We share these sentiments with Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and others and therefore we will not participate in this year’s parade,” the Boston Beer Co. said in a statement.