Now that the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade is allowing a gay group to march under its own banner for the first time, a Catholic group that has marched in the parade for 20 years is withdrawing its participation.
The parade’s refusal to let participants carry gay pride signs had made it a political flash point earlier this year, as Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) refused to march while Heineken and Guinness beer dropped their sponsorships. The parade’s organizers finally ended the prohibition on gay-identified groups last week and announced that the group OUT@NBCUniversal would march under its own banner in 2014.
Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, attributed his group’s withdrawal to parade organizers’ “stiffing” of pro-life groups while granting a gay-identified group entry, according to New York TV station WCBS.
“Prior to the announcement that a gay group would march under its own banner in the 2015 parade, I was consulted by parade organizers about their plans,” Donohue said in a statement, as quoted by WCBS. “I told them that I could only support this decision if there were a formal revision in the parade’s rules governing marching units, and that is exactly what I said in my first public statement.”
“To be specific, I asked them to pledge that a pro-life Catholic group would also be permitted,” he added. “I was told that a formal change in the rules had been approved and that a pro-life group would march. Now I am being told that the list of marching units is set and that no pro-life group will march in next year’s parade. Accordingly, I have decided to withdraw our participation.”
The parade committee responded that it was “disappointed” in the Catholic League’s decision not to march, adding that the group was always welcome to participate, according to WCBS.