The organizers of South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade have filed new legal papers this week claiming Mayor Marty Walsh “strong-armed” them into inviting an LGBT group to march in the parade for the first time in 2015.
The suit claims Walsh had threatened to withhold necessary permits that could have stopped the parade in its entirety, according to court documents filed on Monday and reported in the Boston Herald.
“The mayor of Boston has the authority to issue or not issue parade permits in the City of Boston,” attorney Chester Darling, 89, wrote in the complaint. “Mayor Walsh has repeatedly attempted to alter or control the plaintiff’s parade, by acts which are violations of the time, place and manner jurisprudence.”
The gay military veterans service group OutVets and gay rights group Boston Pride made history in 2015 when they joined the dual celebration of military veterans and Irish heritage at the invitation of the sponsoring South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.
But Darling's filing this week accuses Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans of violating the constitutional rights of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.
According to the Boston Herald, the federal suit first filed in March asks for “permanent injunctive relief” against the city for what it calls “coercive and threatening acts.”
“The calls were coming from City Hall left and right, and the word was that the veterans were going to lose their parade,” Darling, who describes himself as a liberal conservative, told the Herald. “He sat there and said he was going to change the content of the parade.”
Walsh has reportedly denied the allegations. “It’s not true; it’s completely not true,” Walsh told the Herald.
“This administration did not hold permits for anyone,” Walsh continued. “It’s sad when the press keeps reporting that we withheld permits when we didn’t.”
In 1995 Darling, who has previously represented LGBT plaintiffs, won a groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling allowing the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council to exclude gay groups on First Amendment grounds.
Twenty years later, Darling’s arguing that Walsh has effectively undermined that landmark decision with bully tactics and red tape.
Darling claims that during veterans council meetings with Walsh about the 2015 parade, Walsh said if LGBT groups weren’t included he might cancel the parade for “safety reasons.”