The Saint Patrick's Day parade is a big deal in New York City. The parade has been running annually each and every year, dating all the way back to the early days of 1762. Every year on March 17th, the city holds the parade that has come to expect an audience of roughly a million spectators and a few hundred thousand participants. Also of note, the parade is privately run. And here in lies the controversy in question.
Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is boycotting the event because the organizers ban gay signs and banners during the parade. A supreme court ruling back in 1995 allowed them to legally due this, citing 1st amendment freedoms of speech and assembly rights. For the last 18 events, the organizers have stuck true to their logic of not allowing gay citizens to "propagandize" their lifestyle. A quote from lead organizer Phillip Wuschke Jr. had this to say over the issue
, ''The theme of the parade is St. Patrick's Day. It is not a sexually oriented parade. All we want to do is have a happy parade. The parade is a day of celebration, not demonstration.''
It's difficult to tell if the parade organizers are being discriminatory, or if they simply want the parade to be only about St. Patrick's Day. To be clear, the parade organizers aren't saying that gay people aren't allowed in the parade. They are simply saying that gay signs and banners are not allowed to be openly advertised. I feel that if they had the energy and wherewithal to get a court to officially say they could exclude gay banners and signs, they are displaying a certain lack of complete inclusion on purpose, and therefore are willfully being against gay people and gay rights. But an argument can be made either way, I suppose. Aside from sitting down in a room full of the parade organizers, its hard to say for sure.
Former NY City Mayor Bloomberg was against the parade's policy as well. But, for all 12 events that he was mayor, Bloomberg never boycotted. He made an appearance every time. Mayor Bill De Blasio is taking his feelings a step further though this year and completely boycotting the parade, unless the private organizers change their thought process. Apparently, Queens NY has been offering an alternative parade that definitely allows gay people to advertise with banners and signs. De Blasio has already said he will be attending that event instead.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is also boycotting his city's parade for St. Paddy's Day this year. His view is that he wants parade organizers to allow groups of gay veterans to march proudly and openly, alongside everyone else. These gay veterans have served their country; it's very hard not to agree with his boycott and reasoning.