News coming out of Boston shows us that the fight for equality is never done, and that even after tremendous progress, the specter of regression is always present.
Two years ago, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council – the organization responsible for organizing Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade – broke a quarter century of intransigence when it voted to permit an LGBTQ group to participate in the festivities. The debate began in the 1980s, and even landed in the Supreme Court in 1995, which ruled that the organizers could pick whichever participants they wished in accordance with their First Amendment rights. In 2015, the organizers joined the tide of progress that elevated the rights of LGBTQ Americans to the mainstream, permitting gay and lesbian groups to participate.
Fast-forward to 2017, and we’re back where we started. The leadership of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council voted of 9 to 4 on Tuesday to ban the LGBTQ group it permitted the past two years – OutVets – from this year’s parade.
After OutVets representatives met with the council to discuss the baffling rejection, it emerged that their primary concern was the rainbow embedded in the organization’s logo. Rainbows, of course, make up a significant share of St. Patrick’s Day symbolism, with depictions of leprechauns and pots of gold littered throughout the proceedings. The exception in this case appears to stem exclusively from the rainbow’s use as a symbol of LGBTQ sexuality.
Bryan Bishop, the director of OutVets who met with the parade’s organizers, told the Boston Globe his take on their decision: “They refuse to change their minds. They are stuck in an arcane time in our history.”
While this news is certainly disheartening, the response of public figures and other key players was swift.
The parade’s grand marshal and founder of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes , Dan Magoon, resigned in protest. Both Massachusetts Governor Charlier Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that they would not participate unless OutVets was included.
. @MassGovernor gets emotional in telling me he won't march in St Patrick's Day parade if OutVets not allowed, tells us veterans are "holy"
— Sharman Sacchetti (@SharmanTV) March 8, 2017
Walsh went as far as to encourage the general public to refrain from participating unless the organizers made the parade more inclusive.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) March 8, 2017
The parade, scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, is a little over a week away. Let’s see if the organizers can rectify their mistake so that people of all walks of life can enjoy their Guinness together.