Ban on gay vets threatens one of country’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades

The latest battleground for gay rights? St. Patrick’s Day parades, specifically the one in Boston, home to one of the countries largest Irish enclaves.

The organizers of the parade are refusing to allow any gay groups to march. For two weeks, the city’s politicians have tried to broker a deal between the Allied War Veterans Council, the parade sponsors, and MassEquality to allow gay veterans to march in the parade. But the Council said the only way they could is if there was no reference to their sexual orientation. Parade rules bar any political expression.

Neil MacInnes-Barker, a former sergeant in the US Air Force, said he signed up for the march two weeks ago, as negotiations were starting. He said that normally he does not participate in the parades, including ones celebrating the gay community, but that he wanted to be present in the St. Patrick’s Day event.

“If there are people — Irish Americans — who are LGBT in South Boston, then I want to march for them,’’ Neil MacInnes-Barker, a former sergeant in the US Air Force tells the Boston Globe. “If they are afraid of being intimidated . . . then I will stand for them.”

“It is our intention to keep this parade a family friendly event. We will not allow any group to damage the Integrity of the historic event or our reputation as a safe and fun filled day for all,” the council said in a statement.

But the talks apparently collapsed yesterday. And now the economic pressure begins.

One longtime South Boston nightclub said it’s no longer going to sell Sam Adams beer because it sponsors the parade. It posted this letter on its Facebook page:

Club Cafe is very disappointed that Sam Adams does not understand that the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade continue to demonstrate that they do not respect LGBT Irish Americans by excluding LGBT members of this community from openly marching in the St.Patrick’s Day Parade.

It is hard to understand how a community like Boston, where Gay members of the Police force, military and others have, and continue to, put there lives on the line for ALL BOSTONIAN’s, that organizers of The St.Patrick’s Day Parade feel it is just to discriminate against us as a community, and that Sam Adams does not take seriously the impact that their support of bigotry will have on their relationship to the LGBT community and their business.

Therefore Club Cafe will no longer sell Sam Adams until such time as either the Parade organizers or change their position, or Sam Adams removes its support of the St. Patrick Day Parade.

Frank Ribaudo, Jim Morgrage, and Club Cafe

Update 9:01 a.m.Sam Adams Beer says it’s pulling out of the parade sponsorship.

  • MrE85

    Clearly, this is NOT a fun filled day for all, and not all families are welcomed. Stuff like this just reminds people about the nasty fight over busing, the blatant stupidity of not allowing women to run in the marathon and the behavior of the fans at any given day in Fenway Park.
    File under Way To Stay Classy, Boston.

    • South Boston. For Bostonians, Southie is the crazy uncle we don’t invite to the picnic.

      • Joyce Clemons

        That’s funny. My daughter just moved there.I always did my best to keep her away from the funny uncles, looks like I have finally FAILED!!

  • Thomas Mercier

    Last I checked, the American flag is a political symbol. And it’s inclusion in the parade would constitute an endorsement of the politics it symbolizes just as permitting gays to march would be an endorsement of their “political agenda”.
    Given the large number of flags visible in the photos of the parade online I presume the grand marshal of the parade is Michelle Bachmann.

  • DavidG

    Merely identifying yourself as gay is no more political than identifying yourself as Irish, or a veteran, or a member of any other group that is allowed to openly march in the parade.

  • David
  • K owens

    So tired of hearing all this gay crap- everyone is entailed to live as they see fit- what I do know is 20 years ago they could get health coverage for their partners but heterosexuals had to be married.

  • Daniel

    it seems now the “gays” are the hate group. If they can’t get their way they have to use lies and hate to get their way, This parade is basically a Catholic Christian event with a permit to do so. Let the gays get a permit. then we as Christians and Jews and Muslim will DEMAND participation in there parade with banners statues stars of David bibles versus etc. see the point DON’T FRINK SAM ADAMS IF YOU BELIEVE IN GOD AND THE BIBLE send a message Dan

  • Devil’s Advocate

    Just a hypothet here: Would the organizers of say..Southern Decadence in New Orleans welcome, with open arms, members of the Westboro Baptist Church to march with them through the streets of New Orleans?

    • Daniel

      thanks David! you get it. and no they would not I’m sure..

  • ProudIrishGayGuy

    STOP IT RIGHT NOW. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade DOES NOT “exclude Gays” from participating. Stop politicizing this. The Parade does not allow “ANY special interest group” from participating. You don’t see the AFL/CIO marching, do ya? Look, I am an Out Proud Gay Irish Catholic. This is NOT the venue to make political. Another expample: If Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald wanted to march under a banner that said, “Irish Actors” — they would not be allowed to . WE HAVE TO FIGHT APPROPRIATE BATTLES. This ain’t the one.

    • Daniel

      that’s the point you get it!!! if they wanted to they would let the afl/ cio, Bing Chaney, Pres Bush , Clinton, etc etc or any one that asked to be in it . IT IS THERE CALL NOT THE GAY COMMUNITY OR THE COWARD MARTY MEEHAN OR TOM M. They paid for this permit to honor there saint Patrick. Listen I’m not catholic but I respect there right of this permit. I do NOT RESPECT THE GAY COMMUNITY. BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR ANYONE WHO DOES NOT AGREE WITH THEM/ YOU life style.. I am not a homosexual hater and neither is the God that the Catholics pray to. But He hates the sin all sin even heterosexual who commit adultery and fornicate HATES THIS SIN. that is what they believe and that will not change I hope BOYCOT SAM ADAMS AN OTHER COWARD COMPANY I will never drink it again and will tell all my friends to do the same

      • Joyce Clemons

        Sam Adams got bullied too. You know my daughter just moved to Boston and I was so happy for her until I started reading about this stuff, now I am starting to think there is something bad in the water.

    • Joyce Clemons

      gOD bLESS YOU.

    • Ceist

      Yeah, they would, Just like Irish Business Association, the Irish American Labor coalition, the Irish American Teachers Association etc etc is marching with a banner saying who they are.

  • mokicat2

    Headline is so misleading. Gays are not being barred from marching.

    • D. Michael

      really? how come it is the issue at hand?, why is Marty Meehan Tom M Sam Adams not part of this parade? Of course it is. they just call it special interest groups to be politically correct.. We all know what’s being talked about here Gays want to flaunt there beliefs shove it down our throats and true believers don’t agree