There is mounting backlash over the decision by organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade to deny a gay veterans group from marching in this year’s event.
Both Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker have said they would not walk in the March 19 parade unless the organizers, Allied War Veterans Council, made clear that OutVets, an LGBTQ veterans group, was allowed to participate.
Now, state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, said she will not take part at all.
“I will not be marching in the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade,” Forry said in a statement. “My decision will stand even if the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council decides to reverse their outrageous decision to deny OutVets a place in the March 19, 2017 parade.”
Forry isa Democrat who represents the1st Suffolk district in Massachusetts, which includes South Boston. Forryhas also hosted the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston since 2014, an event that is separate from the parade.
“It is unacceptable to exclude anyone in our community. But the Council has chosen to exclude the best of us: Veterans who have bravely served our country and put their lives on the line for our freedoms,” Forrysaid.”As the State Senator representing South Boston, I know this community does not share these ignorant beliefs.”
The Veterans Council was expected to meet on Friday to reevaluate its decision. In a statement issued Thursday, the council said that it had not expressly notified OutVets that the group could not participate, but did say that their logo, which features a rainbow flag,was in violation of the council’s code of conduct.
That code of conduct was created to “protect the theme and historic integrity” of the parade, including the Catholic faith, the statement said. The code prohibits, according to organizers, “the advertisement or display of one’s sexual orientation.”
OutVets has participated in the previous two South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parades, and has displayed its rainbow flag. Before that, the group was denied entry.
Parade sponsorship has also taken a hit. Quincy-based grocery chain Stop & Shop announced that it will withdraw from the parade, and the beer giant, Anheuser-Busch, said it may also decide to do so.