A variety of officials along with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have signaled that they will not march in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade following its exclusion of LGBTQ veterans group OUTVETS.
It was just two years ago that marked the historic addition of two LGBTQ groups, including OUTVETS, to the parade. This year, however, OUTVETS discovered that they had been denied entry to the list of parade participants, and concluded, “While the reason for our denial is unclear, one can only assume it’s because we are LGBTQ.”
The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s organizer, drew immediate condemnation from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who said he would not participate in the March 19 parade unless the council reversed course.
“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form,” he said in a statement.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he would not participate either, while Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton called for a boycott of the parade. Moulton, who served four tours of duty in Iraq, has marched with OutVets previously.
Restricting a veterans group from marching in a parade that honors veterans “doesn’t make any sense to me,” Baker said.
This year’s Chief Marshal, Dan Magoon, the executive director of Mass Fallen Heroes, resigned over the vote.
Observers speculated that the death last year of the council’s commander, Brian Mahoney, a solid ally for LGBTQ groups, led to the backsliding on their inclusion. The council has not given any explanation for its 9-4 vote against allowing OUTVETS to join.
Adding his voice to the chorus of dissent was Democratic State Rep. John Velis of Westfield:
“To say to them they can’t march because of their sexuality defies logic. It’s absurd,” Velis said.
Velis said the Veterans Council needs to change its mind. “These are veterans,” Velis said. “These are people that raised their hand and said they’re going to defend our country, potentially pay the ultimate sacrifice. … They should not be prohibited from marching.”