We are extremely disappointed with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council’s decision (see AWVC’s press release below this statement) yesterday to continue their long history of banning LGBT people from marching openly in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We were under the impression that negotiations were positive and ongoing, and we were surprised by the abrupt and hostile tone of the Parade organizers’ rejection.
We know from experience that change comes through conversation and dialogue. We were encouraged to have an historic opportunity to meet face-to-face with Parade organizers to discuss a contingent involving LGBT veterans, and we did so with open hearts and open minds. We regret that the Parade organizers shut down conversation before an agreement could be finalized. MassEquality represents LGBT people across the lifespan. We were proud to work with a group of LGBT veterans to end the Department of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and those same veterans would have been proud to represent the end of the Parade’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. [pullquote]We were under the impression that negotiations were positive and ongoing, and we were surprised by the abrupt and hostile tone of the Parade organizers’ rejection. … LGBT people should never have to silence who they are to be safe, to be equal, or to celebrate other parts of their identities.[/pullquote]
Throughout this process, we have heard from many people with diverse perspectives about this Parade. Stories from those who marched openly and at great personal risk in this very Parade decades ago touched us deeply. LGBT people should never have to silence who they are to be safe, to be equal, or to celebrate other parts of their identities.
MassEquality is marching toward justice, and we remain committed to full equality and inclusion for everyone in our LGBT communities. We are grateful to all of the elected leaders who declined to march in the Parade because of its history of exclusion. And we are grateful to Mayor Walsh for taking that leadership one step further by pushing for dialogue and reaching toward resolution.
MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
[To read TRT’s in-depth report of this ongoing situation click here!]
South Boston Allied War Veterans Council
P.O. Box 350 South Boston MA 02127
Sponsors of The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day / Evacuation Day Parade
3, March 2014
At a recent meeting of The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, a motion was brought up about reconsidering an application that had been previously rejected. This application was submitted by LGBT Veterans of Equality, (An affiliate of Mass Equality). The reason for this rejection was a clear violation of our “No sexual orientation” rule, and not that we ban Gay people as reported by the press.
The application stated that 20 United States Veterans wished to March with Mayor Walsh and other Politicians in this year’s parade. They also indicated that they were a “Veterans Organization”, “helping Veterans from Cradle to Grave”. After some consideration, the Council agreed that Any Veteran should be allowed to march, regardless of sexual orientation. Further, any organization which helps our Veterans is welcome. This application was conditionally approved as submitted with the understanding that These 20 Veterans can march but no sexual orientation would be displayed, and the group would comply with our standard “Code of Conduct”, followed by all marching units in this parade.
To our surprise, the offer was rejected by Mass Equality’s representative Kara Coredini. Her rejection was based on the fact that we would not allow LGBT Veterans to identify themselves as openly Gay by means of signage and T Shirts Identifying Them as LGBT Veteran. This clearly violates our code of conduct.
At a closed door City Hall meeting last night it was made clear to us that the LGBT Veterans for Equality do not have 20 United States Veterans who wish to march. Rather, they presented only one supposed Veteran and a group of others carrying rainbow flags. When asked about a Color Guard, their loan Veteran replied that he wasn’t sure he could supply any more Veterans willing to march.
The Council performs background checks on groups wishing to march prior to their acceptance. We were unable to find any evidence of LGBT Veterans for Equality that would confirm them as a recognized Veterans Organization.
We appreciate the efforts the Mayor’s office to try and mediate this issue. However it is our intention to keep this an Irish Celebration, dedicated to our Men and Women serving in our Armed Forces. We will fight to keep our parade and its traditions.
Therefore, we The Allied War Veterans of South Boston fell we were misled by LGBT Veterans for Equality. It is our belief that the application submitted to us by LGBT Veterans for Equality was a ploy by them to enter this parade under false pretenses and is hereby denied.
It is our intention to keep this parade a family friendly event. We will not allow any group to damage the Integrity of the historic event or our reputation as a safe and fun filled day for all. We strive to hold the largest and most entertaining St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Country.
God Bless our Troops and God Bless this Country!
[From News Releases]