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Gay groups denied permission to march in main St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston

Posted by Your Town  March 16, 2012 12:17 PM

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Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will not be marching in the traditional South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade Sunday after two groups received rejection letters from organizers.

But members of the two groups are expected to take part in an alternative march known as the St. Patrick's Peace Parade, which is scheduled to begin an hour after the main one along the same route.

MassEquality, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents, applied to march in the parade organized by the Allied War Veterans Council.

The veterans group said no, citing the 1995 US Supreme Court case Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Group of Boston, which ruled parade organizers do have a legal right to decide who marches in the parade.

Join the Impact, another gay, lesbian and transgender group in Boston, was also denied permission to walk in the main parade this year. The Irish-American group marched in the parade in 1992 after obtaining a court order, but no gay or lesbian organization has walked in the traditional parade since the Supreme Court ruling, according to Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality.

Suffredini said her organization has bigger concerns than marching in the parade, but added it was “emblematic of more life-altering rejection that LGBT people face in Massachusetts every day.”

Suffredini said there is nothing the group can do to fight for the ability to march.

Changing attitudes is the bigger task, she said. “I think this is the work we do every day of changing hearts and minds,” Suffredini said. “There will be a day when we will be welcomed in this parade.”

The alternative parade, organized by the Greater Boston Chapter of the Veterans for Peace, is in its second year.

Ethan Harrison, co-chairman of Join the Impact MA, said the group is a leading organizer of the peace parade and members will be marching in it.

MassEquality spokeswoman Susan Ryan-Vollmar said members "actively encouraged to march."

Globe Correspondent Patrick D. Rosso contributed to this report.

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