New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio previously announced that as a display of solidarity with LGBT groups who are not allowed to openly join the festivities he will not attend the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He did, however, attend an alternative parade Sunday that permits gay groups to participate.
According to Fox News, the St. Pat’s for All Parade, founded in 2000 as an alternative to the official parade to which New York City mayors have traditionally been invited, was on Sunday, March 2nd. St. Pat’s for All takes place in Queens, as opposed to the Manhattan-based official St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended the official parade and marched in it regularly, but de Blasio announced earlier this year that he had no plans to endorse the official St. Patrick’s Day Parade in any way. The mayor did not participate in the parade before his election, either. The parade does not ban LGBT individuals from participating, but it does not allow openly LGBT groups to display their affiliation.
Supporting the alternative parade for allowing these groups to march, de Blasio praised the organizers for “celebrat[ing] inclusion,” which “has made the city strong.” Parade organizers won a lawsuit in the 1990s that ruled that, as a private event, organizers have a First Amendment right to choose who participates. Opponents argue that a borough-wide, traffic-blocking parade transcends the private and becomes a public occasion, but courts have yet to agree in New York.
Mayor de Blasio is not the only mayor in the nation to enact such a boycott. In Boston, newly elected Mayor Martin Walsh asserted that he would not participate in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade for the same reason–but with much more positive results: parade organizers are working on a deal that would allow LGBT groups to march and participate openly. While Walsh achieved a compromise, de Blasio’s boycott triggered a backlash from some Catholic groups.
De Blasio’s tenure has been marked by divisiveness. His plan to tax wealthy New Yorkers to pay for a universal pre-kindergarten program prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to offer to pay for the program himself, but de Blasio has insisted that he will implement the tax no matter what. Democrats within City Hall have been quoted as being “flummoxed” by the lack of specific policy direction. Earlier this week, de Blasio courted controversy by angering parents yet again with an education decision, rescinding approval for three successful charter schools in the city. Outraged parents called the decision “ridiculous” and “crazy” and reported having to explain to sobbing children that they had to attend another school.