A major sponsor has pulled out of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston.
The beer company behind the sponsorship, the makers of Sam Adams beer, released a statement Friday morning saying it was hopeful that a settlement could be reached that would allow gay groups to march. But two days before the parade, that doesn’t appear likely to happen.
The company added “We were hopeful an agreement could be reached to allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in this parade.”
Sam Adams said that it is disappointed that an agreement could not be reached between the gay rights advocacy group MassEquality and parade organizers that would have allowed a group of gay veterans to march, despite pressure from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Rep. Stephen Lynch.
"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 Company said in a statement.
A 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council could include or exclude whichever groups it wanted.
The company is standing by Boston mayor Marty Walsh Congressman Lynch, and other community leaders in their decision not to participate in this year’s parade, “ the statement read.
The company said it will continue its support of “Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and her St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.”
The decision came a day after a South End bar said it would no longer serve Sam Adams products because of the brewer’s affiliation with the parade, which is scheduled for Sunday.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has been trying to broker a deal that would have allowed a gay group to march, but those negotiations broke down.
There has been no comment yet from the parade organizers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.
Boston Magazine reports that on Thursday, the South End’s Club Café wrote a public letter and posted it to their Facebook page blasting Samuel Adams beer for being one of the many sponsors of the controversial parade.
“Club Café is very disappointed that Sam Adams does not understand that the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade continue to demonstrate that they do not respect LGBT Irish Americans by excluding LGBT members of this community from openly marching in the St.Patrick’s Day Parade,” Club Café owners Frank Ribaudo and Jim Morgrage wrote, adding that they would be pulling the beer from their establishment until Sam Adams backed out of sponsoring the event, or the event organizers agreed to allow people from the LGBTQ community to openly march in the parade.
The fight to make the parade inclusive for everyone in Boston, including gay rights groups, has been ongoing since 1995. It was then that a Supreme Court Ruling sided with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council—the parade’s organizers—allowing them to exclude gays, lesbians, and any other group that doesn’t conform to their strict parade guidelines.