It was unclear, however, if marchers from MassEquality, one of the
largest gay rights advocacy groups in Massachusetts, would be
permitted to carry signs or use slogans identifying themselves as
gay men and women, which may yet prove a sticking point.
"We don't ban gays, we just want to keep the parade an Irish
parade," Tim Duross, the lead organizer of the parade that
celebrates the city's Irish heritage and honors military veterans,
said in a telephone interview on Saturday.
He cited parade rules banning political protest and references to
sexual orientation, suggesting that MassEquality was established
enough not to have to explain who they are.
"Everyone knows who they are," he said. "They're a good
organization, they help LGBT veterans, and if they help veterans
they're OK with us," he added, using an abbreviation for lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender people.
MassEquality's application to participate in the March 15 parade -
the group's fourth try in four years - was denied at first, said
Kara Coredini, the group's executive director, in a telephone
But the Allied War Veterans Council, also an organizer, reconsidered
after Mayor Martin Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, threatened to
boycott the parade over the exclusion and began attempts to broker
"That there is a conversation happening around allowing openly LGBT
people to march in this parade is historic," Coredini said.
She and Duross will meet this week to see if they can agree on how
MassEquality's marchers can identify themselves in the parade
through South Boston. Coredini said the invitation would be
meaningful only if their unit could march "openly."
"It's not political to want to be equal. It's not political to want
to be visible and welcomed by your community," she said.
FLAG WITH POT O' GOLD
Duross said he was open to a discussion. When asked if the rainbow
flag, the unofficial symbol of the gay rights movement, might be
allowed, he hesitated.
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"If they put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and a
leprechaun, then I think everyone would be happy," he finally
A spokeswoman for Walsh said the mayor and U.S. Congressman Stephen
Lynch, both Democrats, had another meeting with organizers on
"It was a very positive meeting, and they remain optimistic that a
solution can be reached that will work for all parties involved,"
the spokeswoman said in a statement.
Unsuccessful efforts by gay rights groups to join the parade began
in the 1990s, and reached the Supreme Court in 1995. The court ruled
in favor of the organizers, saying a privately organized parade was
free to exclude groups, if they disagreed with their message.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have said
they will boycott the city's largest St. Patrick's Day parade this
year because it bans gay pride signs.
De Blasio, who, like Walsh, took office as mayor in January, called
the practice "discriminatory" and is the first mayor to take such a
stance since David Dinkins, the city's last Democratic mayor, did
the same in 1993.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Gunna Dickson and Dan Grebler)
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