In a controversy that has quickly gained momentum, organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade said Thursday that a gay veterans group's rainbow flag is in violation of the council's code of conduct.
The Allied War Veterans Council, who runs the parade, issued the release on Thursday to "address rumors and accusations" regarding the parade and OutVets'participation, according to the Thursdaypress release.
The council said thatOutVets had not been "officially notified" it could not participate in the March 19 parade, but was told it was in violation ofthe council's code of conduct.
"OutVets was informed that our Code of Conduct prohibits 'the advertisement or display of one’s sexual orientation,' and that the 'rainbow' flag on its banners and logo was in violation of this rule," according to the release.
The council has scheduled a Friday emergency meeting on the issue.
"The question at hand is not one of inclusion or discrimination," the release continues.
But the decision has already had repercussions. Both Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker said they would not march in the parade if OutVets was not allowed to participate. Sponsors also questioned their involvement; Stop & Shop fully withdrew from the paradeand Anheuser-Busch threatened to revoke its sponsorship.
Parade organizers said that the code of conduct was created to "protect the theme and historic integrity of the parade," which includes a celebration of the Catholic faith. The council said that it is "accepting of all organizations, but will not permit messages that conflict with the overall theme of the parade."
"What they are really saying is, 'We don't want you to be gay in our parade,'" she told WBUR. "We did ask if all the rainbows that go to the pot of gold with St. Patrick are going to be removed too, and they said no, those are fine."
Ed Flynn, a member of the Allied War Veterans Council who voted to allow OutVetsto march, has been the only individual council member to speak out on the issue. The final vote was 9-4 against OutVets, Flynn said. He added that he hoped a revote on Friday would "correct this terrible justice."
"I am also reaching out to city and state officials, as well as like-minded veterans and members of OutVets, to find a way to overturn this vote and support equality in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” Flynn said in a statement. “As a 25-year United States Navy veteran, I will continue to stand with them in this fight and pledge not to march if this situation is not rectified immediately.”