New York City mayor marches in LGBT-friendly pre-St. Patrick’s Day parade

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, waves the flag of Ireland as he marches beside Kerry Kennedy, third from left, during the all-inclusive St. Pat's For All parade in the Sunnyside, Queens neighborhood of New York, Sunday, March 1, 2015. The St. Pat's For All parade, which embraces diversity and inclusion, is considered an alternative to the New York City's official St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17. Kathy Willens, AP

New York Mayor Bill de BlasioKathy Willens, AP

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, waves the flag of Ireland as he marches beside Kerry Kennedy, third from left, during the all-inclusive St. Pat’s For All parade in the Sunnyside, Queens neighborhood of New York, Sunday, March 1, 2015. The St. Pat’s For All parade, which embraces diversity and inclusion, is considered an alternative to the New York City‘s official St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17.

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told hundreds of participants at an LGBT-friendly St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday that a society for all is one that embraces and respects everyone.

The St. Pat’s for All parade stepped off in Queens under a heavy snowfall. It was held as an alternative to the city’s centuries-old St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan, which for years has excluded gay groups and this year is scheduled for March 17.

De Blasio arrived about 15 minutes late sporting a lavender shirt and green tie. Despite the snow and cold he said, “It’s a sunny day in my world.”

“You are a hardy troupe,” he told people gathered for the parade. “You are here to celebrate no matter what. That is what pride is all about – pride in the fact that in New York City you can be whoever you are.”

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De Blasio, a Democrat, refused to march in last year’s Manhattan parade because it wasn’t fully inclusive, and Guinness beer dropped its sponsorship. Organizers said last year, though, that they would welcome one gay contingent under its own banner this year.

The mayor said on Sunday: “A society for everyone is a society where everyone is respected, where everyone is embraced, where everyone has a say at the table.”

In the past, gays were free to march in the world’s biggest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade but not with banners saying they’re LGBT. Most marching units in the parade carry identifying banners. There are about 320 units in this year’s parade, the parade committee said.

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