March 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Number of gay-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parades grows
Christine Quinn, New York City, gay news, Washington Blade, St. Patrick's for All Parade, Queens

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn marches in the St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens, N.Y., on March 3. (Photo courtesy of Garry Rissman and Ed Weidman)

D.C. is among the growing number of cities with LGBT-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parades.

Organizers of St. Patrick’s Day parades in San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, N.Y., and Dublin, Ireland, allow gays and lesbians to march. Those in New York City, Boston and other cities continue to bar LGBT people from openly taking part in their respective parades.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who on Sunday formally announced her candidacy to succeed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is among the officials who boycott the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade that takes place on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. She marched with her now wife Kim Catullo in the Irish capital’s 2007 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, last year rejected MassEquality and Join the Impact’s applications to participate. The groups took part in a separate march organized by the Greater Boston Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

St. Pat's for All parade, Queens, New York City, St. Patrick's Day, gay news, Washington Blade

The annual St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens, N.Y., drew tens of thousands of people to the borough. (Photo by Ed Weidman)

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 unanimously ruled the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council had a constitutional right to exclude gays and others with whose message they disagree from marching in the parade. The decision overturned a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that concluded the parade is a public accommodation that could not discriminate against any marcher under state law because of their sexual orientation.

Brendan Fay, who co-founded an LGBT-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade that now draws tens of thousands of people to the Sunnyside and Woodside neighborhoods of Queens, N.Y., on the first Sunday in March, told the Washington Blade he continues to see progress on the issue.

“Parades are vital expressions of cultural life and the exclusion and discrimination against LGBT people from these cultural events are deeply felt,” he said. “I am moved by the shift we have witnessed over the years.”

D.C.’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on Sunday along Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets, N.W., with former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen as grand marshal.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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