Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Wednesday he won’t march in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade unless organizers reverse a decision to exclude a gay veterans group.
“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form,” Walsh said in a statement. “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.”
Governor Charlie Baker told reporters at a press conference he also would likely not participate in the parade if the gay veterans group isn’t allowed to march, MassLive reports.
“It’s a veterans parade,” he said. “Veterans’ groups should be allowed to march in the parade. If veterans’ groups aren’t allowed to march in that parade, I will probably do something else. I won’t march.”
The veterans’ group, OUTVETS, said in a Facebook post Tuesday they were denied a spot in the South Boston parade on March 19. The group has marched in the parade for the last two years.
“While the reason for our denial is unclear, one can only assume it’s because we are LGBTQ,” OUTVETS said.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, City Council President Michelle Wu, and Councilor Tito Jackson, who is running for mayor, expressed solidarity with the group on social media.
Inexcusable to deny any one who has fought for our country the right to march in historic St. Pat's parade. I stand proudly w @OUTVETS.
— Joe Kennedy (@joekennedy) March 8, 2017
I've never marched in the Southie StPatricksDay parade, and as long as the current leadership organizes this event I never will. #bospoli
— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) March 8, 2017
— Tito Jackson (@titojackson) March 8, 2017
Sen. Ed Markey said in a statement he is “deeply disappointed” that OUTVETS was excluded from the South Boston parade and threatened that he, too, would not participate unless they were included:
I am proud of my Irish American heritage. I am proud to represent South Boston and the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States Senate. I am proud that Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and is always a national leader on LGBTQ issues. I have been proud to support our LGBTQ community throughout my career and will continue to until every person, regardless of identity, receives full equality in our state and across our country. I am deeply disappointed that the parade organizers have excluded OUTVETS from this year’s parade, a stunning and inexplicable reversal the group’s inclusion since 2015. We all believed we’d moved beyond a time when the St. Patrick’s Day parade was used as an occasion to exclude people, in this case veterans, from our community just because of who they are or who they love. OUTVETS should be able to march this year, and every year moving forward. If the organizers of the South Boston parade do not reverse their decision to exclude OUTVETS, I will not participate in this year’s parade.
Congressman Seth Moulton encouraged a boycott of the parade, calling the event organizers’ decision to reject the group’s participation “outrageous and disgraceful.”
“Let’s just be clear, these are men and women who courageously put their lives on the line for our country,” Moulton said in a statement. “They deserve our respect just as much as anyone, and if this decision is not reversed immediately, I would encourage anybody who supports freedom, equality, and the service of our veterans no matter who they are, to boycott this parade.”
Moulton, who is an Iraq war veteran, marched in the parade with OUTVETS in 2015.