De Blasio to skip St. Patrick's day parade; cites exclusion of LGBT groups
Posted in the Weird Forum
#1 Feb 4, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that he would not march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan next month, citing the event’s longstanding tensions with gay and lesbian groups.
Mr. de Blasio will be the first New York mayor in 20 years not to take part in the event, a world-famous procession down Fifth Avenue, which is a highlight of the calendar for many Irish-American groups but also a deeply fraught event for politicians wary of its prohibition on public expressions of gay pride.
“I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference in City Hall.
The mayor said he planned to participate in several other events on St. Patrick’s Day, which is March 17,“to honor the Irish heritage of this city and the contributions of Irish-Americans.”
Mr. de Blasio, who previously served on the City Council and as public advocate, said he had never marched in the parade as an elected official.
Two of the mayor’s predecessors, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, marched every year in the parade. David N. Dinkins boycotted the event in 1993, in the wake of widespread protests after sponsors won a court battle to exclude a group of openly gay Irish-Americans from participating.
Mr. de Blasio’s decision was quickly denounced by William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, based in New York, who issued a sharply worded statement saying he was “delighted” to avoid marching alongside “a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics.”
But Mr. de Blasio also faced criticism from some of his allies on the political left, who said the mayor ought to do more to censure the parade’s organizers.
A coalition of liberal activists and city officials — including the public advocate, Letitia James — this week urged Mr. de Blasio to restrict public workers, such as firefighters and police officers, from marching in the parade while wearing formal city uniforms.
The mayor firmly dismissed that plan on Tuesday.“Uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right,” he said.
Organizers of the parade did not respond on Tuesday to a request for comment.
Some Irish-Americans said they were focused on other mayoral matters.
William Cunningham, a former communications director for Mr. Bloomberg, said he was more concerned about the manner in which Mr. de Blasio, who was recently criticized for eating pizza with a fork, might indulge in an Irish tradition.
“The real question,” Mr. Cunningham said,“is will he drink his Guinness through a straw, or with a spoon?”(A reference to the infamous Staten Island pizza scam with mayor de Blasio)
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