Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade allegedly denied entry to a group representing gay veterans (OUTVETS) over a rainbow flag. This reignited a tense issue that had seemingly been resolved and sparked promises of a boycott from the mayor and other elected officials.
OUTVETS is a group that represents US veterans who identify LGBTQ, it previously participated in the past two South Boston parades.
On Tuesday, the group stated that they have been rejected from this year’s parade by the local Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the parade. The two groups met on Wednesday to solve the issue but the discussion got heated after the council said that OUTVETS was denied entry because the banner includes a rainbow flag, as the council said that the rainbow violates rules against promoting sexual orientation.
In its Facebook post, OUTVETS wrote: “We served our country with honor and distinction. But even after bringing honor to this parade, this community, and to all those who have served, we fight every day to be treated with the basic dignity that comes with service to country.”
The Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston banned gay groups from participating in the parade for years, but finally allowed them to participate in 2015. Allegedly, The council voted 9-4 to keep OUTVET out of the March 19 parade.
Fierce backlash occurred due to the decision, with several prominent local figures promising a boycott. Mayor Martin Walsh said he will not march in the parade unless the issue was resolved, and encouraged others to boycott it as well. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said he would “probably” not attend if OUTVETS was not allowed to march.
Marine veteran and US Rep. Seth Moulton said the decision was “outrageous and disgraceful” and said he, too, would boycott. Moulton has previously marched with OUTVETS. Executive director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes and a veteran himself, Dan Magoon, resigned as chief marshal of the parade.
Old history repeated:
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade has a lengthy and tense history with LGBTQ groups.
The Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB) requested to march in the storied parade in 1992, but their application was denied by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.
GLIB sued, stating that the decision was illegal discrimination. The case reached the US Supreme Court, it ruled against GLIB in 1995.
The controversy caused the city to remove public funds from the parade, and Mayor Tom Menino boycotted the parade for two decades.
The council finally allowed an LGBT group to participate in 2015 for to. That year, OUTVETS marched for the first time, and Walsh became the first Boston mayor to march in the parade in years.