In a clear signal to parade organizers, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he will boycott the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because of its policy of forbidding pro-gay signs to be included in the parade.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city,” said de Blasio at press conference on unrelated topics. “But I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade.”
De Blasio’s decision makes him the first New York City mayor in 20 years to sit out the parade. The event, which attracts about 200,000 marchers and 1 million attendees, is organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. As such, the parade is a private event and subject to the rules laid out by the AOH. Like it or not, the parade organizers have the right to be obnoxious and exclude anything they want.
However, politicians have always used the parade to strengthen their ties to the city’s Irish-American and Catholic population. De Blasio, who was raised Catholic but no longer attends church, is breaking with tradition by putting principle above politics. However, the mayor says he won’t stop uniformed city workers, such as police and fire fighters, from marching in the parade.
Bill Donohue, the one-man trolling operation for the Catholic right, professed to be pleased by de Blasio’s choice. ”I lead the Catholic League contingent every year, and I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics,” Donohue said.
It’s convenient for Donohue to pretend that de Blasio’s gripe is with Irish Catholics, when polls show a majority of Catholics support marriage equality. They would probably be a lot more comfortable with de Blasio on this issue than they ever would with Donohue. If anyone is out of step, it’s Donohue and the AOH.