Gay Veterans Banned from Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade

The crowd watches the Annual St. Patricks Day Parade in Boston, Mass., March 17, 2013.
The crowd watches the Annual St. Patricks Day Parade in Boston, Mass., March 17, 2013.

Irish Catholics may be getting ready to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, but one of the country's biggest parades in one of the most liberal states in the country is banning gay veterans from marching.

The sponsor of Boston’s parade, the South Boston Allied War Veterans’ Council, has rejected an application by gay rights group MassEquality to allow twenty LGBT service members to participate in the annual parade. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said Thursday he would make one more pitch to the Council, but the organizers claim that the vets will only be allowed to march if they do not reference their sexual orientation. “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."

Because of the group's conception of "family friendly,” the parade's main sponsor, the Boston Beer Company, brewer of Sam Adams, has also backed out. According to the brewery, it is hopeful that "both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation to participate in the parade. However, given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible." Mayor Walsh, for his part, has said he will not participate in the parade if the dispute cannot be settled.

Nearly a quarter of Bostonians are of Irish descent. According to the International Business Times, Boston has hosted a St. Patrick's Day Parade since 1737, making it the longest-running parade in the country

But Boston is not the only parade to treat the gay community as a threat. On Friday, Heineken told CNBC that they would no longer be sponsoring New York City's annual parade because of its exclusion of the LGBT community. Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio chose not to march in the Manhattan Saint Patrick’s Day parade. Instead, De Blasio will march in the neighboring borough of Queens. And the organizers of Cincinnati’s almost 50-year-old parade opted to send private invitations this year after gay activists applied and were rejected in 2013. The organizers also excluded political candidates--following a boycott by local elected officials last year.