Several companies are reconsidering their sponsorships for the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade after a group of LGBTQ veterans was excluded from this year's event.
The annual parade, scheduled this year for March 19, is organized by the Allied War Veterans Council and supported by donations and corporate sponsorships. The council voted to deny OutVets, an LGBTQ veterans organization, the opportunity to participate.
Anheuser-Busch brewing company, one of the sponsors, is saying it may decide to pull its participation over the issue.The company has a “Luck of the Irish” parade sponsorship in which the Budweiser Clydesdales were going to participate, CNN reports.
“We have been proud to support the LGBTQ community for more than 20 years, not only through our employment practices and marketing campaigns, but also through our associations with GLAAD and PRIDE events across the country,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.
“We are disappointed to learn that the OutVets, who have proudly served this country, have been denied entry to the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade,” the statement continued. “We are re-evaluating our participation in this event.”
Anheuser-Busch isn't the only one.Quincy-based grocery chain Stop & Shop announced that it will withdraw from the parade.
“Stop & Shop is committed to diversity and is disappointed in the decision to exclude OutVets from the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade,” said Phil Tracey, spokesman for the company's New England region. “The men and women from OutVets, who have bravely served our country, deserve our respect and to be included. As a result of the organizer's decision, our South Boston store will no longer sponsor the parade.”
Though not a sponsor, the Teamsters Local 25 union also spoke out against participating in the parade. Sean M. O’Brien, president of the Boston Teamsters chapter, said that they will not march in the parade unless OutVets is included.
"Our Women’s Committee has been proud to walk alongside our tractor trailer for the past several years, but if the organizers shut-out certain organizations, the parade is no longer representative of the 11,000 members of Teamsters Local 25 and our families," O'Brien said. "I urge the committee to reconsider their decision to make the parade reflective of the city of Boston so that all can enjoy."
The Allied War Veterans Council will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to conduct a second vote on OutVets’ participation in the parade.
Ed Flynn, a member of the council who voted to approve OutVets’ participation, said he wants to “correct this terrible injustice.”
“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.”