The tradition of the "political breakfast" at Jody's Club Forest restaurant on the morning of the Staten Island St. Patrick's Day parade will not go ahead this year, SILive reported on February 16.
Organizers said they are not hosting the event "in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ groups excluded by the parade’s organizers."
Michael E. McMahon, the Richmond County District Attorney, has penned an open letter, below, explaining why organizers are "standing down" this year's traditional St. Patrick's Day Parade breakfast.
The Staten Island St. Patrick's Day parade has drawn criticism for a number of years for not permitting LGBT groups to march, even after the nearby New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade famously did an about-face on the same issue in 2015.
According to SILive, LGBT groups will again not be permitted to march in 2023. Larry Cummings, head of the Richmond County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, led the group’s rejection of local LGBTQ+ groups on February 12, when the Pride Center of Staten Island and the Gay Officers Action League tried to apply to march.
Carol Bullock, executive director of the Pride Center of Staten Island, claims that when she and her group attempted to apply to march this year, Cummings told them: "You represent a homosexual organization, get out."
Reacting to the breakfast being canceled, Bullock told SILive: "[The breakfast] was supporting a parade that [is] standing for exclusion.
"I’m just grateful for the support.”
The following is the open letter written by Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon, and republished here with permission of his office:
Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day holds a near sacred place on our borough’s spiritual, social, and cultural calendar.
For decades on the first Sunday in March, we have joined thousands of Staten Islanders in flocking to Forest Avenue donned in Aran sweaters and shamrocks to celebrate our Irish heritage, pride, and the innumerable contributions Irish Americans have made to our country and community.
I personally love this day as well as the gala dinner and festival Sunday that have raised money for the parade. This tradition has also for 25 years included our pre-parade Hon. Jerome X.O’Donovan breakfast at Jody’s Club Forest, where elected officials and community leaders gather to kick off the festivities for the day and in many ways launch the year’s political season.
Unfortunately, this uniquely Staten Island celebration has been sullied in recent years by the exclusion of our borough’s Pride Center, GOAL New York, and other LGBTQ groups from openly marching alongside their neighbors. Their exclusion is based on an ignorant misunderstanding about what this day, the Catholic church, and these groups stand for, and we remain steadfast in our call for the Parade Committee to finally make the right decision and end their discriminatory prohibition on them from marching.
But until then, we cannot in good conscience continue to host our pre-parade breakfast as we have done for so many years. Standing with those left on the sidelines because of their sexual orientation must mean more than simply not marching down Forest Avenue, and so this year Jody’s will not be home to our beloved non-partisan gathering of political and community leaders from across the Island and indeed, New York State.
I dare say that the true Irish Spirit of St. Patrick is to ensure that no child of God, whether they identify as Irish, LGBTQ, or any other way, is oppressed, excluded, or otherwise treated unfairly because of who they are.
Our Irish forebears fled tyranny and oppression and came to America to share in an ideal that we are all individuals entitled to equality under law, liberty and freedom. To be sure, the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee- the only one left in the world to exclude our gay family members, friends and neighbors- is not living up to those ideals through its mean-spirited conduct, and it is long past time for that to change.
So we will stand up against these bullies and for the time being stand the breakfast down.