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BOSTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Reversing its previous year's decision, the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade has decided not to allow an openly gay group to march officially under its own banner — and liberal activists are expressing outrage.
In 2015, for the first time in its history, Boston's annual parade honoring the Irish Catholic saint permitted two LGBT groups — OUTVETS and Boston Pride — to march under their own banner. The scandal caused a religious community — the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary — to withdraw its float, which had been part of the celebration for years. Faithful Catholics also resigned from the parade's council in protest.
This year, however, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the parade, voted 9–4 Tuesday to disallow OUTVETS to march. After howls of protest, the Council agreed to meet Wednesday to discuss a way forward, but stuck to its decision to leave out the gay group.
Although initial speculation revolved around a late application, the council clarified that the rainbow flag used by OUTVETS is an "outward symbol of sexuality" that violates the parade's rules.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is boycotting the march, according to CBS Boston.
"I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form," Walsh said Wednesday. "We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city. I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same." Walsh had boycotted the parade in previous years before the LGBT groups were permitted to march in 2015.
OUTVETS is claiming the refusal is based on its homosexual advocacy. "The Council did not give a clear reason," OUTVETS stated on its Facebook page, "but, given the tenor of the Council's deliberations, one can assume it's because we are LGBTQ."
OUTVETS complained that last year, it was made to march at the end of the parade, and with the passing of Brian Mahoney, "who stood up for OUTVETS as fellow veterans after his own difficult and sincere soul-searching, our strongest ally among parade organizers is gone."
C.J. Doyle, head of Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, issued a press release Wednesday saying, "Whatever the reason, a parade named in honor of a Catholic saint should never be used as a venue for those who despise and reject Catholic morality, and castigate such morality as bigotry, prejudice and homophobia."
"The venerable name of Saint Patrick should not be exploited and trivialized by those who have contempt for the Catholic Faith, and have no interest in the ancient Catholic culture and heritage of Ireland," he continued.
"Mayor Walsh's posturing about not allowing discrimination is gainsaid by a 9 to 0 United States Supreme Court decision," Doyle continued, "which upheld the right of parade organizers to control the message and content of their own parade, which the Court found to be a constitutionally protected expression of free speech. Walsh's vision of inclusion does not, evidently, apply to Catholics who believe in traditional morality."
Doyle is referring to the case Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, a 1995 Supreme Court case that ruled in favor of the Allied War Veterans Council's right to exclude openly gay groups from marching in its parade, as doing so would be a violation of the Council's First Amendment right to free speech.
The Council is reportedly convening in an emergency meeting Friday to take another vote on whether to allow OUTVETS to march.