Could De Blasio Do More Than Just Boycott The St. Patrick’s Day Parade?

Bill de BlasioNew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision not to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade because of its antigay policies was a statement of personal principle. But for some LGBT activists and supporters, the move stopped well short of the kind of action that the mayor could have taken. They want him to forbid any city worker, including firefighters and police officers, from march in the parade in uniform.

In a letter to the mayor, the group, consisting of more than 30 organizations and 14 former and present city officials, argue that the presence of uniformed city workers violates the city’s nondiscrimination law.

“The organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade have established a constitutional right to their exclusionary religious procession, but the participation of police and firefighters is a clear violation of the City’s Human Rights Law,: the letter says. “The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people.”

In announcing his decision to boycott the parade, de Blasio specifically noted that uniformed workers would be allowed to march. Those who signed the letter consider that move a slap in the community’s face, especially since the police deparment (NYPD) and fire deparment (FDNY) represent a huge number of marchers.

“The NYPD and FDNY’s participation in the parade is hugely questionable under the law–and the fact that the Mayor doesn’t seem concerned with remedying this problem is as disturbing legally as it is morally and politically,” said Alan Levine, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. “If the guarantee of respect for equality and dignity that is embedded in human rights law and the constitution means anything, it surely means that uniformed police – who are charged with equal enforcement of the law – should not be parading down a public street conveying a message of contempt for one of our City’s communities.”

No word yet from de Blasio but it’s fair to expect that the issue will continue to heat up between now and March 17.


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  • chaddyboy6

    The people work for the city not owned by the city. They should be free to do as they please whether we agree with it or not.

    But did you know that the man you are fawning over also wants to give anti-gay Muslims school holidays? And if you do not think that Muslims are, please educate yourself. For what reasons I can not fathom(sarcasm-it is pandering of course) but they make up such a small percentage of the NYC population. I am sure there are more Hindus in NYC. Where are their holidays?

    It is disingenuous to not mention that fact about DeBlasio and not call him out on that.

  • NG22

    IDK how I feel about this debate. I so respect the work of activists who try to advance our rights, even when it is difficult, controversial, and thankless. On the other hand, these NYPD/FDNY guys would have attitudes that are just as homophobic no matter what happens here. Forcing these proud Irish guys to wear plainclothes would make them hate the LGBT community even more.

    But in general, as a New Yorker, I just think we should ban the damn parade. It closes Fifth Avenue across a huge swath, which screws up traffic, bus schedules and routes, even walking commutes. And everyone is so damn drunk that they start vomiting everywhere. I’d much rather the Puerto Rican Day Parade. At least then you might get a grope on the ass.

  • NG22

    @chaddyboy6: Ooh, you classless. And xenophobic. Where is the love in your heart? It’s important to separate Islamic nations and their laws and practices from individual American Muslims, who should be treated with as much respect as any other group in this country. You can’t call for LGBT equality, and enjoy a lack of Islamic equality. Of course Islam is homophobic. But so are all Abrahamic religions. We don’t need more hatred between persecuted minority groups. We need to foster more understanding, to mitigate existing tensions. And a first step must be the assimilation of Muslim people into the New York and American families. Respecting their holidays is a nice way to begin. First generation immigrants will live and die by their existing beliefs, but there’s an opportunity to assimilate their children, so the next generation of American Muslims could be more understanding and respectful of the LGBT community. If we ostracize American Muslims, and give them the sense that they are not part of the American family, it could have the adverse effect of radicalizing their children to stand opposed to the West. Consider the Muslim community in France. That country was not successful in bridging the divide between Judao-Christians and Muslims, and now they have a ton of young Muslim men setting cars on fire in the suburbs of Paris and flying to Syria to fight alongside Al Qaeda-affiliated terror groups.

    In this city, we observe all major Jewish and Christian holidays. Why not Muslim? I’m openly gay and have had many friendships with Millennial Muslims, and they’re not as backward as you seem to think. It’s important not to characterize all groups like a monolith. Furthermore, there is the practical matter. If there’s a Muslim holiday, many kids do not come to school anyway, so this move would synchronize attendance schedules. I went to high school with many, many Muslims (the population is quite large in Brooklyn and Queens), and it makes sense for the schedule to reflect absences that will occur anyway.

  • hyhybt

    The parade’s policies are, for lack of a better word, homophobic, but that’s not what the parade is about. So people who agree with the general purpose but not that one aspect should be free to weigh for themselves which is more important to them. That groups would even ASK that firefighters and so forth be barred from participating, even in uniform, is going too far. Especially when it wasn’t *that* long ago that it was pride parades government employees weren’t allowed to participate in.

  • chaddyboy6

    I am not classless. If the American Muslims did not feel the same way as the Middle Eastern Muslims then why do you never hear about them denouncing the atrocities of their brethren. The Muslim inheritably is misogynistic, and intolerant. I will not be tolerant of it or those who follow it.

    And furthermore, they do not make up enough of the population to deserve their holidays off. And Christmas is a Federal holiday though schools now tend to call it winter break.

    Definitely not a xenophobe and since you do not know me you can not make that assumption. Just because I detest the Muslim religion (I have looked into it and their tenets) does not mean I dislike foreigners. Au contraire Mon Amie.

    And in reality many Muslim communities do not want to assimilate but want us to recognize and allow misogynistic Sharia Law (Dearborn Michigan is an example) They want us to conform to them but you come to this country you need to assimilate.

  • chaddyboy6

    and one more point does the Hispanic day parade allow gays. and if not will he boycott that? I wonder. I tried to look it up but could not find any pertinent information so if anyone does I would appreciate an honest answer.

  • NG22

    @chaddyboy6: We’ll disagree on this one, but I found your first comment hateful. I appreciate that you’re trying to defend the LGBT community from a perceived slight, but fighting hatred with hatred does little to get the ball rolling. We know the old saying about two wrongs. Furthermore, I find the assertion of a small Muslim population in New York irrelevant. Statistically, those who identify as LGBT are only 3-4% of the American population, but we don’t believe that’s a valid excuse to deny gay rights.

    And finally, something we should be proudest of as a country (and yet always try to run away from) is our identity as an immigrant nation. Culturally, immigration is a great thing. Part of this country’s status as a melting pot means that while people assimilate over time, they also leave their own indelible cultural markers on this country.

    Consider Irish and Italian immigration. A century ago, many found these groups to be undesirable scum. They didn’t want to give them jobs; they found them to be alcoholics, inferior, socially backward, etc. And if you revisit the whole point of this post, you will see that there will always be leaders, spokesmen, and people who are hostile the LGBT community–such as the Irish Catholic organizers of this event. And if you read the end of the post, you’ll see that many Irish Catholic people do support gay rights, even if their leaders don’t. This is my point.

    In time, past first generation immigrants, you’ll find that Muslim communities will assimilate. And I think we can both agree that will be a good day.

  • hyhybt

    @NG22: Amen.

  • JDJase

    chaddyboy6 must be jimbryant’s new screename

  • Arkansassy

    It’s their parade. Let them do whatever they want. Getting really tired of our “community” searching out ways to be victims. Not being invited to a parade does not a victim make.

  • jar

    I have great respect for CCR, but this is a bit too much. This parade has traditionally been one of trades (various unions, workers, civil servants, etc.). City workers should be allowed to march in uniform. Their presence in the parade does not mean that they agree with the AOH’s anti-gay position. Furthermore, there is a competing constitutional right of association at play. I think it is dangerous for the city to micromanage the celebrations of its workers. Frankly, I am surprised that CCR has taken this position.

  • mish

    @hyhybt: “That” is indeed what the parade is about. In 1992, the NYC Human Rights Commission determined that because the parade is a public event, it can’t discriminate. So in 1993 the organizers redefined it as a “private, religious procession” with an “explicitly anti-gay message.” They have reaffirmed that message every year. In caselaw, in public perception, and in fact, it is an anti-queer parade.

    No one is telling individual city workers where to march, or that they can’t be flaming bigots. But the law says that can’t do that in their official capacity — so no uniforms. The participation of the NYPD and FDNY isn’t incidental, either; they organize and send thousands of marchers and they’re by far the biggest contingents. It’s clearly an endorsement of the parade, and that is illegal too. That’s why there are 45 civil rights attorneys who put their names on the letter to DeBlasio asking him to uphold the law.

    And @chaddyboy6, seriously get a life with the Islamophobia stuff!

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