By Andrew Ryan / Globe Staff / March 4, 2014
Organizers of South Boston’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade have rejected a second application to march from a gay rights group and cut off negotiations seeking to end the two-decade ban on gay groups in the event.
Parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr. said in a telephone interview this afternoon that discussions were over with MassEquality, a group that advocates for gay rights, and it would not be allowed to participate.
“We gave them what we figured was reasonable,” Wuschke said. “They wanted it all.”
Discussions between the two sides had been brokered by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. He declined to answer questions about the issue through his spokeswoman.
But he issued a statement, saying he remained “hopeful that a resolution acceptable to all parties is still within reach.”
“There has been miscommunication by both parties in the press over this issue,” said Walsh, urging “direct conversation” between “all involved parties.”
Parade organizers said Monday in a press release that they had been misled by MassEquality, which had applied to march on behalf of 20 veterans, and Mayor Walsh. The application came from an affiliate of MassEquality called LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] Veterans of Equality.
“We were unable to find any evidence of LGBT Veterans for Equality that would confirm them as a recognized Veterans Organization,” organizers said in the statement posted on their website. “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.”
At a meeting in the mayor’s office Sunday night, parade organizers said, it became clear that MassEquality did not have 20 veterans who wanted to march in the parade. Instead they presented one “supposed veteran” and a group of other marchers carrying rainbow flags, parade organizers said.
“When asked about a color guard, their (lone) veteran replied that he wasn’t sure he could supply any more veterans willing to march,” the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the event, said in the statement.
Parade organizers said that MassEquality’s application had been “conditionally approved” with the understanding that 20 veterans could march so long as they did not hold signs or wear T-shirts that bore the word “gay” or other references to sexual orientation. The parade has a written code of conduct that prohibits references to sexual orientation.
“To our surprise, the offer [to march] was rejected by MassEquality’s representative Kara Coredini,” organizers said in the press release. “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.”
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