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Boston Mayor Urges Boycott After Gay Veterans Are Banned From St. Patrick's Parade

Many local politicians are refusing to participate

In a disheartening and surprising turn of events, the organizers of Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade—the private group South Boston Allied War Veterans Council—voted 9–4 to bar OutVets, an openly gay coalition of former soldiers, from marching in the event. The group, which represents LGBTQ veterans of all stripes, had participated in the event the past two years.

The organizers cited a breach of its code of conduct, which forbids “the advertisement or display of one’s sexual orientation as a topic that should in any way be depicted as a theme of our parade.”

Speaking to The New York Times, the founder of OutVets, Bryan Bishop, spoke to the organizers’ decision, saying, “They said people felt that rainbows represent the gay community. I told them if that's the case, then every picture of a rainbow in the parade that leads to a pot of gold needs to be removed.”

In response to the news, both the mayor of Boston, Martin J. Walsh, and the governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, are skipping the festivities and urging others to boycott the event as well.

Mayor Walsh issued the following statement on his official Twitter account:

Those opposed to the ban of OutVets have both spoken and acted swiftly. The parade’s marshal, Dan Magoon, the director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, resigned his post after learning the news. Sponsors have dropped out as well.

Due to the swift and strong reaction, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council is hosting an emergency meeting today, presumably to re-evaluate their decision in light of the crippling blowback.

We’ll see if the group’s likely pivot and new invitations are welcomed or are met with the same disdain and dismissal that proud gay veterans were.

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