The Washington Post

Deal could allow gays in Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston is easing its two-decade ban on gay organizations under a tentative deal to allow them to march in the event, whose organizers once went to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep them out, a marriage equality group said Saturday.

MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini said a group of gay military veterans can march under its banner as part of a tentative deal with parade organizers brokered by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh (D).

Marchers from the gay rights group would not, however, be allowed to wear clothing or hold signs that refer to sexual orientation, Coredini said.

Negotiators will work out final details in the coming week, she said, adding that the development is a big deal for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“The LGBT community faces many challenges more significant than this parade, but the parade has historically been the symbol of those challenges that we face,” Coredini said. “It’s been 20 years since openly LGBT people have been able to march in this parade.”

The Boston parade, sponsored by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, has had a long and tortuous history on the question of whether gay groups can march.

State courts forced the sponsors to allow the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston to march in the parade in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, the sponsors canceled the parade rather than allow the group to participate.

In 1995, the sponsors restricted participation to those who were invited and said the parade would commemorate the role of traditional families in Irish history and protest the earlier court rulings. Several months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Massachusetts courts had violated the parade sponsors’ First Amendment rights when they forced them to allow the gay group to participate.

Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, had threatened to boycott the city’s annual parade unless gay groups were allowed to march. Walsh’s predecessor, Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D), boycotted the parade after the Supreme Court ruling.

The parade has traditionally honored Irish-Americans and also celebrates Evacuation Day, George Washington’s victory that forced British troops out of Boston in 1776.

— Associated Press


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Program turns prisoners into poets
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
Play Videos
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Play Videos
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
The art of tortilla-making
A man committed to journalism, caught in the crossfire
Play Videos
Tips for (relatively) stress-free dining out with kids
How to get organized for back to school
How the new credit card chip makes purchases more secure

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.