Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Sunday morning he is skipping the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade because organizers will not lift their ban on the participation of out LGBT groups, despite last minute negotiations.
"I'm disappointed that this year, I will be unable to participate in the parade," Walsh said in a statement. "As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city. Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible."
The move comes after the mayor attempted to negotiate a solution with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, the parade's organizers, and MassEquality, an LGBT rights organization, so that a small group of LGBT veterans could march openly in the parade — carrying rainbow pride flags. Late last week, Walsh said he would sit out the parade if a last minute-deal could not be reached.
"As of this morning, parade organizers were quoted in the media continuing to insist that LGBT marchers hide their sexual orientation," Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality, said in a statement. "No other group is asked to march without a banner and their standard – not the police, firefighters, or the Irish. A double standard is the status quo and does not represent progress."
MassEquality said it is pleased that Walsh "kept his promise" to skip the parade if organizers continued to uphold the LGBT ban.
"While we are disappointed that we did not get to march this year as we had hoped, we thank the Mayor for championing full inclusion all the way until the end," Coredini said. "We are encouraged by today's small step forward with the inclusion of a 'diversity' float, and we hope that it is a sign that next year applications from LGBT groups, like MassEquality, that wish to join the celebration of Irish heritage and the service and sacrifice of veterans, will be accepted on their own merits and the decades long ban can finally be lifted."
On Friday, Sam Adams Beer announced that it would not be participating in the parade this year due to the ban. The parade, which kicks off Sunday afternoon, is one of the nation's largest St. Patrick's Day parades.
Former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, too, declined to march in the parade during his 20 years in office, saying he wouldn't unless LGBT people were able to participate, according to MassLive.