The organizers of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade announced today that they will lift the ban on out gay marchers. They’ve decided to allow an LGBT group to participate openly, paving the way for other gay groups to march in the nation’s oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration. OUT@NBCUniversal, a group at the network broadcasting the parade, will march along Fifth Avenue under its own banner.
This decision ends a longstanding exclusionary policy that discriminated against our community. For decades, there have been protests, boycotts and rancorous debate over whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people could march openly in the parade. This past year, we thought we were making progress on getting the ban lifted. But LGBT people were again prohibited from participating.
Back in March, speaking on behalf of our community, Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, said: “The ban on gay and lesbian people marching openly forces me, as a proud Irish New Yorker, to look my five year-old twins in the eye and tell them that the parade organizers don’t think our family is good enough to join in the celebration.”
In solidarity with LGBT groups, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council contingent did not march in the 2014 parade.
Now that the ban has been lifted, according to The Daily News, Mayor de Blasio said: “This is progress…What I’ve called for for a long time is an inclusive parade. This is a city of inclusion.”
In a statement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito added: “This is a welcome first step and a good day for New Yorkers who believe in fairness, equality and human rights. For far too long the St. Patrick’s Day Parade excluded New Yorkers just because of who they to love. I am happy organizers finally realized that this parade is better when all are invited.”