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Gay rights groups scoff at NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade decision

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
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NEW YORK — A decision by organizers of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade to allow one gay organization to march is a disappointment after decades of fighting by gay groups for full participation, several advocates said Wednesday.

Some were dismayed that the organizers had chosen just one lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group to participate next year after ending a ban on them. Others expressed continuing mistrust.

Nathan Schaefer, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, called the announcement “disappointing and self-serving.”

“While this development is long overdue, inviting one group to march at the exclusion of all others … is a far stretch from the full inclusion we deserve,” Schaefer said.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the gay-rights group GLAAD, said parade organizers – who announced other gay groups could apply for the parade in 2016 and afterward – “must be held accountable” to that pledge.

“Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue,” she said. “As an Irish-Catholic American, I look forward to a fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that I can share with my wife and children, just as my own parents shared with me.”

The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee said Wednesday that OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT resource group at the company that broadcasts the parade, would be marching up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on March 17 under an identifying banner. In the past, organizers said gays were free to march in the nation’s biggest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade but only with other groups and not with banners identifying them as gay.

The exclusion had made participation in the march a political issue in recent years. The committee said it made the “gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.”

But gay leaders said the organizers were forced into it.

“They weren’t nudged, they were shoved into making this decision,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. “They were increasingly beginning to look like dinosaurs. In one of the world’s most diverse and inclusive cities, not to allow gay people to march was becoming an anachronistic decision that they could no longer reasonably justify.”

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