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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - New York's Catholic leaders marked the city's 257th St. Patrick's Day Parade by spotlighting openly gay marchers, chief among them, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland.
The prime minister and his boyfriend helped lead the parade, marching alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo and Congressman Peter King, both self-described Catholics.
Varadkar hailed the significance of the event. "It was a real privilege to march with my partner at this parade in New York," he said after the parade. "Only a few years ago, people couldn't march under the rainbow banner but that has all changed."
Cuomo also hailed the moment, noting the participation of the prime minister and his boyfriend was a testament to the radical changes of the last few years.
"Today as every day, New Yorkers know diversity is our greatest strength," the governor tweeted. "Proud to march alongside Prime Minister Leo Varadkar."
Cuomo is a key ally of New York gay activists. He was responsible for ramming through the state's landmark gay "marriage" bill in 2011, making New York the first major U.S. state to allow same-sex couples to "marry."
In a 2014 radio interview, the governor described gay "marriage" opponents "extreme conservatives" who "have no place in the state of New York."
Two years later, he banned state-funded travel to North Carolina, after Raleigh passed a "transgender bathroom" law, requiring individuals to use restrooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Again in 2016, Cuomo barred health insurance plans from covering reparative therapy for minors with unwanted same-sex attraction, vowing, "We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are."
2018 marks the fourth year gay groups were admitted to the parade founded in honor of the patron saint of Ireland.
After years under the Cuomo administration, few faithful New York Catholics were surprised by the governor's tweet. But they were again scandalized by the message sent by their archbishop.
Dolan rolled out the red carpet just hours after the prime minister paid a visit to the Stonewall National Monument, a memorial to the 1969 launch of the U.S. "gay rights" movement. The cardinal was later seen laughing with Cuomo and Varadkar on the streets of New York.
Under social and political pressure by gay activists and their allies in 2014, Dolan chose to look the other way as gay groups were admitted to the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
He seemed to welcome their inclusion, saying, "I think the decision they've made is a wise one. ... I have no trouble with the decision at all." He went on to serve as grand marshal for the 2015 parade.
2018 marks the fourth year gay groups were admitted to the parade founded in honor of the patron saint of Ireland and the first an international "gay rights" symbol was given pride of place at the head of the march.