City Council to skip St. Patrick’s Day Parade

st patricks day gay
Former Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg march in the gay-friendly St. Pats for All 2013 parade in Queens.
Credit Spencer T. Tucker/ Mayor’s Office

The New York City Council won’t attend this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to skip it himself.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the decision on Tuesday, continuing the council’s recent tradition of protesting the long-standing Fifth Avenue parade due to its hardline opposition to marchers with gay pride signs.

“The St. Patrick’s parade should be a time when all New Yorkers can come together and march openly as who they are — but right now that is not the case for the LGBT community,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “I hope the organizers will eventually realize that the parade will be better when all New Yorkers can march openly and proudly.”

Organizers for the parade, scheduled to take place March 17, did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Previous defenders of the policy contended that gay marchers are not banned from the parade — only signage and items that identify them as gay.

The speaker’s decision doesn’t ban individual council members from participating in the march. It also keeps with her predecessor’s personal take on the parade, alleged to be older than the United States of America.

Former Speaker Christine Quinn, a lesbian of Irish descent, skipped the march during her tenure and opted for the alternative, gay-friendly St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens. Even so, the council still had an institutional presence at the Manhattan parade.

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue called the decision an exercise in “growing contempt for tolerance and diversity in the homosexual community and among their supporters.”

Donohue suggested that de Blasio and “his equally intolerant sidekick” Mark-Viverito should “be run out of town.”

“The protesters obviously loathe diversity,” Donohue wrote. “Diversity means pluralism, a wholesale rejection of mandated, one-size-fits-all policies. What these activists want is the right to impose their agenda on Irish Catholics, neutering a day set aside to honor St. Patrick.”

But the council is not alone in its decision. Every citywide elected leader with its boycott.

De Blasio said in early February that he would not march in the parade, breaking with 20 years of mayors participating in the event, which is expected to bring out 1 million people.

Comptroller Scott Stringer also elected to miss out on the march, as did Public Advocate Letitia James.

James, however, did push for the city to ban uniformed city workers, including uniformed police and firefighters, from marching in an event she said would send an “anti-gay message.”

De Blasio rebuffed the request.

“I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to,” de Blasio said earlier this month. “And I respect that right.”

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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