Sides working toward South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade agreement

st. patrick's day boston peace parade veterans for peace
Members of Veterans for Peace get ready to march in the second parade in South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day 2013.
Credit: Michael Naughton/METRO

It appears a solution to Boston’s controversial St. Patrick’s Day parade may still be a ways away. 

While it was reported last week that Mayor Marty Walsh had brokered a deal with parade organizers that would allow a statewide LGBT advocacy group to march in the parade, the group said over the weekend they so far have no plans to participate.

MassEquality’s executive director said that the group has not had a direct conversation with parade organizers and that it has not accepted an invitation to march.

“MassEquality … will only consider accepting an invitation that allows LGBT people to march openly,” Executive Director Kara Coredini said in a statement. “We have heard from LGBT people who are Irish, who are veterans and many others who would like to march in the parade and to be able to express all of who they are. LGBT people should not have to silence who they are to celebrate other parts of their identities.”

The group’s participation was based on a condition that MassEquality could march with their banner, but no signage or displays that referenced being gay or sexual orientation.

“We have stipulations and that’s all we ask for them to go by,” said Philip Wuschke Jr., the parade organizer, adding that the parade has been inclusive and does include gay participants.

Walsh’s office said in a statement that he and Rep. Stephen Lynch met on Saturday with parade organizers and that it was “a positive meeting.”

“They remain optimistic that a solution can be reached that will work for all parities involved,” Walsh’s office said in a statement.

Walsh has said he wants to march in the parade, but said it has to be “inclusive.” Former mayor Thomas Menino refused to march in the parade.

The Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the South Boston parade, won a US Supreme Court decision in 1995 that allowed for the private parade to exclude gay, lesbian or other groups.

One the groups that has been denied is Veterans for Peace. The local chapter of the group now organizes its own St. Patrick’s Day parade that follows the same route as the traditional parade, but must stay a mile behind it. This year, Carlos Arredondo, who was propelled into the spotlight because of a picture of him helping Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, will be the grand marshal of the peace parade.

Pat Scanlon, the coordinator for the local Veterans for Peace group, said that he believes brokering a successful deal between the Allied War Veterans and LGBT groups is “a long shot.”

“I applaud the effort,” Scanlon said, but added that, “The city should take back the organizing of the parade.”

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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