Ban On Gay Groups Marching In St. Patrick’s Day Parade To Be Lifted

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The organization that manages New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will allow a gay group to march under its own banner next year, effectively ending the ban on gay groups marching in the parade, the New York Times is reporting.

A group known as OUT@NBCUniversal, which is composed of LGBTQ employees of NBC – the network that has the rights to broadcast that parade – has been granted permission to march under its own banner at next year’s parade on March 17, according to MSN. In the past, gays have been allowed to march, but only with other groups, and not with banners identifying them as gay.

Spokesperson Bill O’Reily – who is not the same person as the television personality of the same name – has said that other gay groups will be able to apply in future years.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York and next year’s Grand Marshall, said that he approves of the change, saying that the parade will remain “loyal to Church teachings” and is “very supportive” of this change.

“I know that there are thousands and thousands of gay people marching in this parade. And I’m glad they are.”

Cardinal Dolan’s tone of inclusiveness in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade may be emblematic in a shift – however subtle – in the Catholic Church’s approach to LGBTQ people. Last summer, Pope Francis signaled the beginning of a new era with his statements on gays, according to a previous Inquisitr article.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a New York City tradition that dates back to 1762. Celebrating the city’s proud Irish heritage with bagpipes, Irish dancers, as well as politicians and civic groups, the parade draws hundreds of thousands of spectators every year.

The parade, which is officially a non-political event, has become mired in controversy since at least the 1990’s, as attitudes toward homosexuality in the U.S. have changed. Several groups have boycotted or threatened to boycott; most notably, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio refused to march in this year’s parade, and one of the parade’s main sponsors, Guinness, withdrew its sponsorship.

“Organizers have diligently worked to keep politics — of any kind — out of the parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event. Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the parade.”

Do you believe the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade made the right decision in allowing gay groups to march? Let us know what you think in the Comments below.