Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has vowed to boycott the South Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade if organizers do not reconsider allowing members of the LGBT community to march.
Speaking to the Boston Herald he said, “If the gay community is not allowed to march, I’m not marching in the parade.”
The Mayor, who is the son of Irish immigrants, said he is trying to persuade the parade’s organizers to allow members of Boston’s gay, lesbian, and transgender communities to publicly march under their own banner.
“I’m working on it…I hope (to reach a deal),” he said.
“It’s 2014, it’s time for the parade to be an inclusive parade and it’s something that I’m working with. I’ve had some conversations early on and they have been very good conversations, we will see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”
In 1995 the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the parade was a private event and, thus, the parade organizers had the right to exclude groups that proclaimed messages they reject.
One of the parade’s longtime organizers, John “Whacko” Hurley, told the Boston Herald that he is unaware of any deals being worked out to allow gay and lesbian marchers.
Hurley added that he will harbor no ill will towards Mayor Walsh if he chooses to skip the March 16 parade.
“That’s his prerogative whether he wants to walk or not. He’s a great guy. I sat down with him last week, I think he’s got a tough job there. He don’t make the rules for the parade,” Hurley said, adding, “it takes a lot more to make me upset.”
Parade organizers have always pointed to the 1995 ruling as the mainstay of their decision to invite only those they want. While South Boston has changed incredibly, it is still a hard knocking Irish neighborhood, fiercely independent and ornery when it comes to who marches in their parades.
The Boston mayor’s decision is just the latest controversy to hit plans for parades this year.
New York mayor Bill De Blasio has announced that he will not to march in this year’s parade in New York.
A senior Irish government minister has followed his lead and is also boycotting New York’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in protest at the organizers' attitude to gay and lesbian marchers.
Minister for Social Protection and Labour Party deputy leader Joan Burton told a Dublin radio station that she will not be attending the parade when she is in the city for the annual festivities. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, however, is expected to march in the parade despite mounting pressure on him follow the mayor's lead.
"It is my intention to be there in New York," Kenny said.
Mr Kenny did not express a view on Mr de Blasio's reservations about the parade.
"You should ask the Mayor that question. I don't speak for the Mayor," he said.