The only two words I prefer to see together other than “unlimited” and “pancakes” are the words “gay” and “parade.” The highlight of any parade I've ever attended has always been the daring glittery Lady Liberty proudly shaking her hips to the sounds of a dub step remix of “The Thong Song.” Sure the freakishly well-coordinated teenage marching band is cool, but the gay dance party always wins in my book.
Apparently, not everyone shares my enjoyment of awe-inspiring (and free!) LGBT entertainment. Many organizers of St. Patrick’s Day parades across the United States have repeatedly refused to let any gay rights groups participate:
Pink News reports that a pro-marriage equality group was banned from the March 17 celebrations in Massachusetts this year:
“MassEquality, a marriage equality activist group, claimed it was excluded in the past from the parade for being an LGBT group, and dismissed the claim that the parade was full this year as “disingenuous.”
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini explains:
“Organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade have barred LGBTQ people and groups from marching in the Parade for 18 years simply because they are openly LGBTQ.”
Similarly, the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) was banned from participating in the in Cincinnati parade. Josh Wagoner, a GLSEN co-chair, said:
"We are horrified by the message this sends to LGBT youth, who suffer constant bullying and discrimination, that they are not welcome in Cincinnati. […] the significance of being excluded from such a big historical, cultural institution is emblematic of the rejection LGBT people face every day.”
Thankfully, it gets better. Ohio’s only openly gay councilman Chris Seelbach along with most other equally-outraged elected officials boycotted the entire event. The councilman has also headed a motion “that would require organizers of any parades that take city money to adhere to the city’s anti-discrimination policy.”
Seelbach’s Facebook page this morning indicated that "[a] majority of Council Members have signed a motion that requires all parades receiving a financial subsidy from the City to agree, in writing, to adhere to the City’s non-discrimination policy throughout the event. The motion also requires that in all economic development deals and other taxpayer subsidized financial incentives, the City include a clause (as a requirement of the deal) that the recipient adhere to the City’s non-discrimination policy. #progress."
Personally, I think we'll be able to claim progress has been made once St. Patrick's Day organizers believe that middle-aged men urinating in public or college students funneling beer before the eyes of babies in strollers is more offensive than gay-straight alliances. But hey, that’s just me.