An outcry among local and state officials following the exclusion of an LGBTQ veterans group from Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has led its organizers to schedule a new vote on the matter for Friday.
Mayor Marty Walsh, along with Governor Charlier Baker and several Massachusetts state and congressional lawmakers, had expressed concern and stated their refusal to take part if OUTVETS were not permitted to march, despite having done so for the past two years since a landmark outreach to LGBTQ groups to join in the parade..
The Allied Veterans War Council had voted 9-4 to exclude OUTVETS from this year’s parade, and for the first time issued a statement to explain their decision:
In a press release issued Thursday to address “rumors and accusations,” the Allied War Veterans Council, which runs the parade, said that the gay veterans group, OutVets, “was informed that our Code of Conduct prohibits ‘the advertisement or display of one’s sexual orientation,’ and that the ‘rainbow’ flag on its banners and logo was in violation of this rule.”
The council added in the release: “The question at hand is not one of inclusion or discrimination.”
The council also claimed that OUTVETS had submitted a late application. These arbitrary rationales did not seem likely to sway the council’s critics, and attorney for OUTVETS Dee Dee Edmundson pointed out that the group had marched with the same flag and emblem previously without incident.
Meanwhile, economic pressure ramped up on the council as grocery store chain Stop & Shop announced it had withdrawn its sponsorship of the parade over the issue, and Anheuser-Busch stated it was considering doing likewise.