Gays and lesbians might be able to marry in the Empire State, but they still can't march in the St. Patrick's Day parade.
The Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the sponsor of the New York City event, have barred Irish LGBT organizations from participating for approximately 20 years. As reported by Huffington Post, the group maintained in a court case the parade is a 'private religious procession.'
Irish Queers, an advocacy association, will continue its yearly protest of the Fifth Avenue celebration. This year, the organization plans to focus on the participation of the city's law enforcement.
'How much does the NYPD [New York City Police Department] support religious anti-gay bigots,' the group asked on its website. 'The NYPD actively fought to keep Irish queers out of the parade, fought queers' right to protest the parade, and now sends thousands of officers to march in NYPD contingents. Most recently, when a dozen queer rights and immigrant/cultural groups joined forces to tell NYPD Commissioner Kelly that police endorsement exacerbates anti-queer violence, and to demand that the NYPD pull out of the parade, Commissioner Kelly didn’t even bother to respond.'
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian and rumored to be planning a run for mayor, is boycotting this year's festivities. Instead she will attend Mass with her father.
'It saddens me that I cannot march as an openly gay woman of Irish descent alongside my father,' Quinn said, as reported by the Daily News. 'I hope to one day march in this parade with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in a way that allows us to freely celebrate our heritage and identity.'
The Ancient Order of the Hibernians points out gays and lesbians can march; however, overt displays of sexuality are not allowed.
Richard Conway, writing for The Guardian, questioned this reasoning. He also noted in 2010 Ireland's former president, Mary McAleese, declined to be New York's parade marshal because of its anti-gay policy.
'To me, this attitude is outmoded, misrepresents modern Ireland, and as a Dubliner, is not something I recognize,' Conway wrote.