Coalition: De Blasio Must Not Allow Uniformed Officers in Explicitly ‘Anti-Gay’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade

A huge coalition of LGBTQ organizations and allies are continuing to pressure NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio to stop allowing uniformed police and fire officers to march in the "explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory" NYC St. Patrick's Day parade, saying that De Blasio's solution — that he would not march but they could — is not satisfactory.

DeblasioThe group responded to De Blasio yesterday with another letter:

Yesterday a broad-based community letter called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to direct NYPD and FDNY Commissioners to stop sending uniformed officers to the nation's largest anti-LGBTQ event—the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. In response, the Mayor has ducked and punted, saying only that he won't march himself. This isn't much to be celebrated: no truly progressive politician has marched since the parade banned the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization from marching with its banner in 1991, and Mayor Dinkins stood alongside ILGO only to be pelted with beer cans.

The parade is explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory. Because the NYC Human Rights Commission said it violated the City's human rights law in 1992, parade organizers sought deliberately to define it as a private and religious event in order to continue to exclude LGBTQ people. Indeed, John Dunleavy, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman, infamously compared LGBTQ marchers to the KKK being allowed to march in an African-American parade in Harlem.

Police and firefighters march by the thousands, making up most of the parade. (Did you think it was a celebration of Irish pride? That’s so 1992.) Their uniforms clearly convey that the City endorses the march. The Mayor's cavalier dismissal of the City's human rights law today compounds that effect. We get it: we LGBTQ people don't matter.

When NYPD and the FDNY wear their official work uniforms and march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, they diminish their sworn respect for the laws of this great city and violate the spirit of the city’s human rights law. Employers make rules about uniforms and that’s the issue in dispute – the wearing of official uniforms which conveys to the world that this parade’s bigotry is endorsed by our city government. But the law protects us, and we will insist that the Mayor uphold it. We are told that we can march if we don’t identify ourselves in any way. If that is the way we are to be treated, then City personnel should march as individuals with their counties but not in City uniforms. While we protest the rising homophobia in Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, we seek to end homophobic discrimination here at home as well. The St. Pat’s Parade has a right to its anti-gay march under the constitution. But the City and all supporters of human rights must do everything we can to isolate it.

The full list of LGBTQ groups and allies signing the letter can be found HERE.

Comments

  1. Bob says

    Andy he is not going to make enemies of the police and fire unions over this issue.
    Your heart is in the right place though

  2. HM2 Matt says

    The police and fire department will have more respect for him and his opinions if he let’s them make the choice to protest themselves. He’s setting an example. Forcing others to do the same is foolish.

  3. Markt says

    It’s true that City personnel should not be part of the parade in their official capacity given NYC’s non-discrimination statute. The Judge who allowed gays to be excluded based it on the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday.

  4. K in VA says

    I agree that his decision is right, in letting individual officers and firefighters decide for themselves whether to march.

    Our job is not to pressure him to alienate some of them, but to work harder to convince more of them why participating in an exclusionary event is the wrong thing to do. Put another way: We should continue the hard job of winning hearts and minds toward our cause of full equality.

  5. Qj201 says

    Nothing about that parade is religious or private.

    it is a public event that cost$$$$ the taxpayers.

  6. Marshall says

    DeBlasio can only pick so many fights. His inauguration hit the city’s bigoted elites hard. He repudiated Stop & Frisk, a slam at corrupt, racist police practices. His refusal to participate in the Parade is also a knock at bigots and the elite who support them.

    So, politically, DeBlasio has made a good start. He showed that he’s not adverse to mixing up with entrenched forces but he’s also smart enough to choose a battle he can win.

    By the way, does New York hold a Columbus Day parade? If so, why? That’s a holiday devoted to a well documented, sadistic murderer.

  7. Joe in Ct says

    Are we turning into vindictive bullies now? This coalition needs to get a life. It’s not an anti-gay parade no matter how hard you try to spin it in that direction.

  8. dana says

    Many of our groups are too eager to publicly attack our supporters. The mayor already understands the discrimination and that’s why he’s not participating. This well meaning group publicly attacks an ally then puts this issue in the same paragraph as what’s happening in Russia and Nigeria. It isn’t helpful and it diminishes the plight of harshly persecuted LGBT persons around the world.

  9. Rick says

    If the parade is a ‘private’ affair as they claim then I would assume there are rules around city workers participating during working hours and in uniform. If it has been customary to disregard those rules and look the other way then it would seem sensible that the city stop doing so.
    Haters will be haters but why should tax dollars support their public efforts?

  10. Rick says

    If the parade is a ‘private’ affair as they claim then I would assume there are rules around city workers participating during working hours and in uniform. If it has been customary to disregard those rules and look the other way then it would seem sensible that the city stop doing so.
    Haters will be haters but why should tax dollars support their public efforts?

  11. jarago says

    Irish American police officers and firefighters should be allowed to march if they choose to.

  12. andrew says

    @ANDREW: “Sometimes I think that we are turning into the bullies our opponents say we are.” Only the few PC police among us who condemn everyone who doesn’t follow their version of the party line. Guys like Mike Ryan, Little Kiwi, Visage et al.

  13. Randy says

    Oh please. If people want to march, they can do it out of uniform. Nobody’s free speech is at issue here.

  14. Jimmy Higgins says

    there is one policy in the city so it goes for all parades and all city workers not just cops and fireman these people have been marching for generations.