In a major breakthrough, brokered by Boston mayor Marty Walsh, the organizers of the South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will invite a gay group to march.
The group Mass Equality cannot wear T shirts or hold up signs that refer to the words gay or sexual orientation.
“They can march under the MassEquality banner,” Tim Duross, one of the parade coordinators, told the Boston Globe Friday. “We’d be happy to have them here. And we’d be proud to have them here. Everybody knows who MassEquality is.
“We said, ‘You’re a great organization, you do wonderful things for people, and therefore we’d be happy to have you in our parade. But we’d rather you just wish everybody a happy St. Patrick’s Day and left it with that.’ ”
In an interview in the Globe on Friday night, Walsh stated “This is probably the biggest step in 20 years,” Walsh said. “I’m really encouraged. We’re going to talk about how we can make this happen, how we can make this a reality.”
The parades rules prohibit “the advertisement or display of one’s sexual orientation.”
MassEquality’s executive director, Kara S. Coredini, stated that she was hopeful the group would now take part in the parade which takes place March 16th.
“At this point, my mind is open, and I’m hopeful we can get to a place where we can end the exclusion,” Coredini said. “This is huge.”
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade is sponsored by the Allied War Veterans Council . A unanimous 1995 Supreme Court judgement ruled the parade was private and could invite and exclude who they wanted to.
Former organizer John “Wacko” Hurley who took the Supreme Court challenge said he was unsure if he agreed with the deal “I don’t know,” Hurley said.
“I’d have to think that one over.”
Former Mayor Thomas M. Menino refused to walk in the parade for almost two decades because of the ban.
Walsh waked in it as a state representative but was refusing to take part this year as mayor. However, unlike New York Mayor De Blasio, he stated that he would act as intermediary in the parade dispute.
The decision to let the LGBT group march was taken on Tuesday at a meeting of the parade organizers but was kept quiet.
“We asked, ‘Would everyone go along with them marching under the MassEquality banner?’ ” said Duross. “Everyone agreed.”
“It would be nice” if MassEquality marched “as long as they follow the rules,” but time is running short, said parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr.
“It’s getting so close, and I’ve got a full parade as it is. Eventually I’m going to say the parade’s full.”