March 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT contingent to march in St. Patrick’s Parade
St. Patrick's Parade, Pat Hawkins, D.C. Center, St. Patrick's Day, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Center board member Patricia Hawkins is among the organizers of the LGBT contingent in the parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

A first-ever LGBT contingent is scheduled to march on Sunday, March 15, in D.C.’s 44th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade.

The D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, which is organizing the LGBT contingent, is calling on members of the community, especially those who are of Irish descent, to march with the contingent.

“Those of us who have regularly participated in the parade in the past as individuals are really excited about this,” said lesbian health advocate and D.C. Center board member Patricia Hawkins, who is among the organizers of the LGBT contingent.

Hawkins and D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner said parade organizers approved the Center’s request to join the parade as an LGBT organization without hesitation. St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers in other cities, including New York, in the past have refused to allow LGBT contingents to march in their parades.

Daniel Barutta, president of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity Washington, said Dignity is calling on LGBT Irish Catholics along with other LGBT Catholics to join Dignity members who plan to march on Sunday behind the group’s banner.

“This is a historic occasion for Washington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a great opportunity for those attending the event to realize there are openly proud LGBTQ Catholics,” Barutta said.

The D.C. parade is scheduled to kick off at noon and travel along Constitution Avenue, N.W., from 7th Street to 17th Street. D.C. Center officials have said the LGBT contingent will assemble at 11 a.m. on the Mall at 7th Street, N.W. and Madison Drive.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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