It's time for the St. Pat's standoff to end

When the inclusive Sunnyside Wooside Saint Patrick's Parade stepped off on Skillman Avenue in Queens on Sunday, it was deja vu all over again.

This year, like all the other years before it, the unique parade was one of the most joyous and colorful Saint Patrick's parades in the nation - and one of the most genuinely welcoming.

(The main Saint Patrick's Day parade on Fifth Avenue refuses to let gay Irish parade goers march under their own banners or wear sashes or badges that make it clear they are LGBT).

But that's not an issue in the Sunnyside/Woodside parade. Each year in Queens participants reflecting the full (and often beautiful) diversity of New York City itself come out to march in a parade that has opened its arms to the city in ways the main one on Fifth Avenue never has.

But there's a catch. The truth is there's a certain Groundhog Day feel to both parades now that standoff between them has calcified. And even the dueling organizers must, in their private moments, wonder how long this can go on?

Were we ever any better than this? Weren't we smarter than this once? Is this tense and public standoff really the best we'll ever do?

America used to stand for generosity and tolerance. It used to stand for realism and welcome. But for two decades, on both sides, we've let a small but vocal minority set the agenda for the majority and the result has been division and anger. That kind of absolutism has been a disaster for the nation, for the fabric of Irish America, and for the parade.

Look at Ireland. The nation has enacted full civil unions for its LGBT citizens and now 73 percent of people there are in favor of marriage equality, the highest number ever. Ireland has simply addressed a long standing inequality and moved on.

In the US we've seen the repeal of DADT and the President's decision that DOMA is indefensible. Gay people, it turns out, are not people who know nobody and who nobody knows - they're sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. They aren't an attack on the family - they are family.

So surely, in the new spirit of realism, it is not beyond the invention of the Fifth Avenue parade organizers to craft a tough compromise that will end this very public family squabble once and for all?

In life it's important to know which fights to pick but it's equally as important to know when to bury the hatchet. That time has come for both sides. Both sides have made their point. We are greater together than apart.

And the best and brightest of us know this. This moment calls for real leadership. Now, who among us will be big enough to act?

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