Culture Politics

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t march in St. Patrick’s Day parade

Bill de Blasio photo

(RNS) New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t march past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and on down Fifth Avenue in the city’s famed St. Patrick’s Day parade because he opposes organizers’ ban on marchers’ gay pride signs.

Bill de Blasio photo

courtesy Bill de Blasio's official website

Bill de Blasio photo

The new mayor said he will participate in other events to honor New Yorkers of Irish descent on March 17. “But I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” he said Tuesday (Feb. 4).

Organizers from a coalition of Irish-American groups say gay people are welcome to march in the parade, which typically draws more than a million spectators, but participants may not carry signs that indicate their sexual orientation.

De Blasio’s predecessor, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was a supporter of gay rights but marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. De Blasio did not march when he served as the city’s public advocate. But he said he will not stop any city employee from marching in uniform.

Gay groups in New York City acknowledge that court rulings have established the parade as a private, religious procession that may exclude gay groups. But allowing city workers such as police officers to march in uniform violates the city’s human rights laws, they argued in an open letter to de Blasio.

Bill Donohue, head of the conservative Catholic League, responding to de Blasio’s decision, said the parade does not exclude gays.

“The great myth has always been that the parade is anti-gay: in previous years, I have gone on the radio inviting gays to march with the Catholic League, provided they do not draw attention to themselves or to some extrinsic cause,” Donohue wrote. “The parade is not about homosexuals, or abortion, or anything other than honoring St. Patrick.”


About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • You can’t honor St. Patrick by parading past St. Patrick Cathedral on 5th Av., the home base of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is a strident opposer of everything gay–except taking action against sexually abusive clergy in Milwaukee, his previous diocese, and hiding diocesan funds in cemetery endowments there to avoid paying court-ordered awards to victims of clerical sexual abuse. As for Bill Donohue, he’s “extremely more Catholic” than Dolan or even Pope Francis. It was the Archdiocese of New York under previous bishops that obtained city permission to take over 5th Av. beyond diocesan property to choke off the speech of those with whom its leaders disagreed. That is unconstitutional.

  • Who do parade organizers think they are kidding? They claim LGBT Americans may march in their anti-gay parade if we remain IN THE CLOSET!

    Anti-gays should be used to this sort of public condemnation by New York’s mayor by now. Despite their efforts going back to Anita Bryant to keep LGBT Americans second-class citizens and at the far fringes of society, their misdeeds have placed anti-gays themselves at the fringe of society and unwelcome in America’s public life, such as the presidential Inauguration, while a gay poet spoke at that same Inauguration.

  • The other thing is the people likely to be upset over de Blasio’s action are the ones least like to have voted for him or likely to so in the next election.

    Why bother pandering to a group which is going to demonize you anyway?

  • If you take Donohoe at his word and the rule is “no signs on any topic apart from St. Patrick,” I’m not sure there should be any controversy.

  • The problem being, there is no reason to take Donohoe at his word. The controversy is a generation old and trying to reframe it as simply being about signs is to woefully understate the issue.

  • It just goes to show us that there are more gays in nyc then irish. Because if there were more irish then gays bill deblasio would be marching in the st patricks day parade. It’ all about the numbers(votes)

  • So you are implying gay and Irish are mutually exclusive categories?

    In a city with a long history of taking official offense to religious based bigotry (going back to the 17th Century with the Flushing Remonstrance), DiBlasio simply joins the ranks of other notable New Yorkers.

  • Good for the mayor. The organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade have a perfect right to exclude on gay rights supporters marching with gay pride signs, and the mayor has a right not to take part. This is liberty in action, on both sides. I do hope that the organizers of this parade do become more inclusive as time goes on.

  • Cardinal Timid Dolan guffawed with Hizzoner a couple of weeks ago when he came to the Madison Avenue Episcopal Manse, but now he’s got his trained mongoose Bully Donahue working over de Blasio because of this affront to the cardinal’s moment of homage on St. Patrick’s Day. (I don’t think the pope will be coming to Gotham anyway…despite the soon-to-be-newly-resplendent Cardinal’s Castle. The $180 million has to pay off, after all.)

  • Again , you are making this a anti – gay issue when it is NOT. it is a NO BANNER regardless of what you are or who you are. PERIOD! I am so sick of the Gay people thinking they have different rules then everyone else. No one can bring a banner what part of that do you NOT UNDERSTAND? You have your own parade where you dress up and carry your protest banners .. MORE POWER TO YOU GO FOR IT! But the Irish will NOT allow you to bring your agenda to our parade. Don’t like it ? STAY HOME.

  • Anyone who thinks the celebrating of St. Patrick’s day “honors” anything irish is a fool. Between the “irish yoga” t shirts and the green beer, all it does is minimize the huge impact irish immigrants have had on this country.

  • Why do they have to carry signs?? I’m sick of gay people trying to force their agendas on the rest of us. If you’re gay, why do you feel the need to broadcast it to the world? March and be happy that you’re there sharing the moment with everyone else.