Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade to Allow Gay Veterans Group to March After Initially Refusing Them

OutVets, an LGBT veterans group, marched in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2015. CBS BOSTON

Organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston have decided to allow a gay veterans group to march in this year’s parade, reports CBS Boston.

A lawyer for OutVets said late Friday that the group looked forward to “marching proudly” and representing LGBTQ veterans.

“We are honored and humbled by all the outpouring of support that has been displayed for our LGBTQ veterans – who are one of the most unrepresented demographics in our veterans community,” said lawyer Dee Dee Edmondson.

Earlier, Bryan Bishop, of OutVets, said the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council offered to allow the group to march if its members did not display the rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, which is on their banner and their jackets.

The group said no.

“I almost fell out of the chair at that point, said, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” Bishop said.

He said OutVets has displayed the rainbow at the parade the last two years.

“It infuriates me to look at the veterans that I know, gay and straight, who have served this country with valor and honor and distinction, and just because you’re a veteran who happens to be gay your service is somehow less than someone who is not of the LGBT community or someone who’s not gay,” he said.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston ranks high on the holiday list for many people.

“I’m Irish and I love St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, it’s right below Christmas,” a man told CBS Boston.

Another veterans group, Veterans for Peace, said it also had been denied permission to participate. That group has been trying unsuccessfully for several years to march.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council’s vote drew immediate condemnation from high-profile politicians, caused some sponsors to back out and stirred up a furor on social media.

“We are one Boston. We are so beyond this conversation,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told CBS Boston. He has since dropped out of the parade along with Gov. Charlie Baker.

This year’s Chief Marshal, Dan Magoon, resigned over the vote, reports CBS Boston.

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SOURCE: CBS News/The Associated Press