Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s first big test in office will begin this week, according to Boston Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis, when he tries to persuade South Boston parade organizers that gays should march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Former mayor Tom Menino refused to march when gays were turned away.
Walsh, a Dorchester boy, now has to deal with this tricky issue. As a state legislator he marched in the parade. Now he is mayor and the spotlight is on. Gelzinis says that Marty will 'seek to engage the overseers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade, John “Wacko” Hurley and Philip Wuschke, in a … a “conversation” about broadening the scope of their annual late winter spectacle.' Gelzinis adds, 'In other words, entering the 21st century to open the closet doors just a crack and concede the obvious: gays are not insurgents. They are our brothers, sisters and neighbors who make up the South Boston of today.' But it is an uphill task. The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the parade was a private event and that gays did not have to be included.
Parade organizers have always pointed to that 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.
South Boston old and new came out overwhelmingly for local guy Walsh in the election which leaves the issue a far more difficult one for him than it was for Menino.
Gelzinis says, 'Marty will embark on “a conversation,” far more sensitive and challenging than any discussion John Kerry is trying to have with Syria or Iran... It is an extremely delicate balancing act. Southie went so big for Marty Walsh back in November that he will likely do anything to avoid a public conflict.'
Gezilkis closes by saying, 'We won’t know if Marty will be able to march through Southie in the St. Patrick’s parade until he has his “conversation” with the parade mullahs.'
“If Marty Walsh from Savin Hill can form a true bridge between the voices of old Southie and those trying to make their way in the South Boston of today, he is more than a mayor, or a diplomat … he’s a miracle worker.”
Amen to that!