Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mayor de Blasio breaks tradition, boycotts St. Patrick's Day Parade over gay-pride ban

Politic

The St. Patrick's Day Parade does not ban gays from participating in the parade, but it does not allow them to identify themselves by their sexual orientation. De Blasio says he disagress with that policy.

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Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking a stand against the policy of the St. Patrick's Day Parade — much like Mayor Dinkins did 20 years ago.

For the first time in 20 years, the mayor is boycotting the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in a protest over its ban on marchers who carry gay-pride signs.
“I am not planning on marching in the parade,” Mayor de Blasio said at a City Hall press conference on Tuesday.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade,” he added.
Parade planners have said gays are welcome to join the procession, which is expected to draw more than 1 million people on March 17, but they cannot identify themselves in any way by their sexual orientation.
Mayor de Blasio will not be among the bagpipers in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Shawn Inglima

Mayor de Blasio will not be among the bagpipers in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

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City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also pledged not to march.
“I have an incredibly strong trajectory of being a strong ally on issues regarding social justice and equity for the LGBTQ community, so I will definitely not march,” she said. “The mayor took a very bold step and decision in deciding not to march.”
De Blasio rebuffed a move from his supporters, including Public Advocate Letitia James, to ban uniformed city workers from marching in the salute to the city’s Irish-American heritage.
Mayor Bloomberg marched in the St. Pat's parade every year.

Bryan Smith for New York Daily News

Mayor Bloomberg marched in the St. Pat's parade every year.

The last time a mayor declined to march in the boisterous parade up Fifth Ave. was in 1993, when Mayor David Dinkins refused to take part because of the gay issue.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg participated every year. Former Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who is a gay Irish-American — did not march.
City Controller Scott Stringer and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens) said they would also avoid the decades-old display of pageantry.
Mayor Giuliani and Gov. Pataki were not opposed to the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Andrew Savulich

Mayor Giuliani and Gov. Pataki were not opposed to the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Van Bramer, who is openly gay and was arrested for marching in the parade with a gay-pride banner in 2000, praised de Blasio for his “strong stand against discrimination.”
“I find it offensive that the parade takes a formal and hard line that I can’t participate,” Van Bramer said. “That literally shuts out huge portions of our city.”
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Not everyone took the mayor’s side.
Mayor Koch was a regular face at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

MARK LENNIHAN/AP

Mayor Koch was a regular face at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a sardonic statement that he was thrilled by de Blasio’s decision.
“Personally, I am delighted,” Donohue, who leads his organization’s delegation in the parade, wrote in the statement posted on the League’s website.
“I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics,” he added.
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Mayor John Lindsay at the parade in 1966.

Gene Kappock

Mayor John Lindsay at the parade in 1966.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) said he was disheartened that the mayor would not participate.
“Mayor de Blasio’s decision not to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is truly unfortunate and disappointing,” he said. “I am hoping Mayor de Blasio will reconsider his decision and participate in one of New York’s most time-honored traditions.”
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York said Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who missed last year’s parade because he was taking part in the election of a new Pope in the Vatican, was on a retreat and not available for comment.
James was one of several pols who signed a letter asking de Blasio to ban uniformed city employees from marching in the parade.
Mayor David Dinkins was the last mayor to boycott the St. Patrick's Day Parade over the gay issue.

Gerald Herbert

Mayor David Dinkins was the last mayor to boycott the St. Patrick's Day Parade over the gay issue.

“The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people,” the letter states.
De Blasio responded that city workers can participate if they wish.
“I believe uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right,” he said.
Calls to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee were not returned late Tuesday.
clestch@nydailynews.com
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