St. Patrick’s Day Parade pressured over ‘anti-gay message’

st patricks day parade
Members of the Emerald Society, an organization of Irish-American police, march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he would not ban city workers from marching in uniform, but will not attend himself because he disagrees with the parade organizers’ stance on LGBT groups participating.
Credit: Getty Images

Advocates are increasing pressure on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year for having what they believe is an “anti-gay message.”

Dozens of civil rights groups and elected officials, including Public Advocate Letitia James and three former Human Rights commissioners, signed a letter asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to ban uniformed city personnel from marching in the parade.

“The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people,” reads the letter, published Monday in the Gay City News.

The Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization sought to march in the popular parade more than two decades ago, but a federal judge ruled in 1993 that the city could not force the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which runs the event, to allow a group opposing the organization’s religious message to participate.

Though gays are welcome to walk in the procession, they cannot identify themselves by sexual orientation.

Opposing this stance, de Blasio did not participate in last year’s parade and doesn’t plan to attend this year.

“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade,” de Blasio said Tuesday.

His absence marks a change from previous mayors’ involvement. Former mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani marched in the parade, joining large groups of uniformed firefighters and police officers.

Despite his own position, de Blasio said city workers have a “right” to march in uniform.

“I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to. And I respect that right,” the mayor said.

Parade organizers did not immediately return a request for comment. But Bill Donohue, head of the the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said he was “delighted” the mayor wasn’t marching.

“I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics,” Donohue said in a statement.

Donohue added that the parade doesn’t allow both pro-gay and pro-life signs.

“The parade is not about homosexuals, or abortion, or anything other than honoring St. Patrick,” he said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders


PHOTOS: Places to visit on Shakespeare's 450th birthday

William Shakespeare would celebrate his 450th birthday on Wednesday, and England's greatest playwright let his imagination roam as widely as his characters.


Overnight Q trains to run local in Manhattan…

Manhattan straphangers will soon get some late-night relief on the Q train.


Boy, 2, survives fall from unguarded third-story window…

A 2-year-boy miraculously survived a fall from an unguarded third-story window in Manhattan early Wednesday morning, police said.


Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…


Review: 'The Railway Man' is a literal-minded look…

In "The Railway Man," Colin Firth plays a WWII vet suffering from massive trauma acquired from his days as a beaten POW.


'#GIRLBOSS': Nasty Gal CEO shares unlikely success story

Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso shares her rags to riches, dumpster to Porsche tale in her new book "#GIRLBOSS."


App Appeal: Unf— Your Habitat is a sweary…

Guilt trip yourself into some spring cleaning with the app "Unf— Your Habitat," which uses swearing and some rudeness to get you to get your s— together.


Review: 'The Other Woman' needs to be angrier,…

Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton play women who team up to destroy the man they're all unwittingly sleeping with in "The Other Woman."


Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.


Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.


MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.


Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.


The benefits and challenges of intensive summer programs

Get the facts on taking an advanced college course.


Why you need a facial

What can a facial do for your face that a washcloth and soap can’t?


You can have your healthy snacks delivered

To take the guesswork out of procuring snacks good for you and your family, check out one of these companies.


Jillian Michaels wants to ‘Maximize Your Life’

The fitness star returns for her second “Maximize Your Life Tour.”