The Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be sans Sam Adams Beer on Sunday because the parade organizers exclude gay groups. Along with Sam Adam’s, Mayor Martin Walsh will also be boycotting the annual parade, which is sponsored by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. The Irish-American mayor said he would not march in the parade unless gay groups were allowed to march.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1995 that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council had a constitutional right to exclude marchers whose message they reject, including those who seek to identify themselves as gay, lesbian, and bisexual Irish-Americans. The parade, one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the nation, draws as many as one million people to South Boston.
Boston Beer company, which owns Sam Adams, stated that they will be joining the Mayor and will not be participating in this year’s parade: “We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.”
The mayor and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch were trying to broker a deal with MassEquality, a gay rights advocacy group, but an agreement broke down over the issue of MassEquality’s demand that members be allowed to carry banners or signs identifying themselves as gay, which the Veterans Council did not want.
In February, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would not be marching in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade because organizers will not allow participants to carry gay pride signs. De Blasio’s decision prompted Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, to remark that he was “delighted” that de Blasio would not be there. The Catholic league emphasized, “The parade is not about homosexuals, or abortion, or anything other than honoring St. Patrick.”