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News Analysis: Here we go again

by Sue O'Connell
Wednesday Mar 8, 2017

St. Patrick's Day parade 2015, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood
St. Patrick's Day parade 2015, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood  

Allied Vets unpack old grievances, reject OUTVETS

Editor's note. As Bay Windows went to press, Allied War Veterans Council member and Boston City Council Candidate Edward Flynn released this statement:

"I am calling for an emergency meeting of the Allied War Veterans Council to hold a new vote to correct this terrible injustice. I am also reaching out to city and state officials, as well as like-minded veterans and members of OUTVETS, to find a way to overturn this vote and support equality in the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. The OUTVETS are a proud group of military veterans who have marched the past two years and there is no reason that should change. As a 25-year United States Navy Veteran, I will continue to stand with them in this fight and pledge not to march if this situation is not rectified immediately."

After two uneventful appearances by the LGBTQ veterans groupo OUTVETS, The Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the venerable South Boston Saint Patrick's Day parade, rejected the group's application to march in this year's parade.

The parade is scheduled for Sunday, March 19 in South Boston.

Two years ago, it seemed the Allied War Veterans Council was ready to join the 21st century, and accepted both OUTVETS and Boston Pride's application to march. Sources said the Boston Pride application was a mistake-the Council thought it was a "Boston Strong" group, but both groups marched. The Council quickly made a "no rainbows" rule regarding signage for both groups during the parade, and one parade official became angry on the route when Boston Pride marchers opened rainbow umbrellas as it began to rain. Really.

By all reports, crowds along the parade route enthusiastically greeted both OUTVETS and Boston Pride.

Way back in the last gasp of the last century...1992, The Allied War Veterans Council rejected the application to march by the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB), eventually the Council took their case to the US Supreme Court in 1995, and won. Over the following decades many elected officials refused to march in the parade if LGBT groups were excluded.

Then, in 2015, LGBT groups joined the spokesperson from a tax service, people dressed like Star Wars Stormtroopers, pirates, and others to take to the streets to celebrate veterans and St. Patrick.

All of the good will and progress came to a screeching halt on Tuesday when the Council voted 9-4 against allowing OUTVETS to march.

"I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. "I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same."

Dan Magoon, who heads an organization to honor and support Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families, Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, posted his decision to step down as honorary chief marshal:

I have worked hard over the years to support returning Veterans and their families. We have fought battles across this City, State and Country in regards to Veterans rights, benefits, employment, mental health, discriminatory practices, and many other significant areas important to our Veterans. To be a part of a parade excluding OutVets does not coincide with the work I do advocating for all Veterans.

The severity that this decision weighs not only negatively impacts OutVets, but also the families of Veterans, thus creating a ripple effect across our community.

I wish the parade success. The freedoms that we possess to hold such an event is due to the men and women who have spilled their blood in defense to this great nation, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or who they share relations with.

Governor Charlie Baker told the The Boston Globe, "If veterans groups aren't allowed to march in that parade for whatever reason, then I will probably find something else to do that day."

"It's a veterans parade. Veterans groups should be allowed to march in the parade," Baker said at a press conference.

OUTVETS posted this to their Facebook page:

"While four members of the council advocated for our organization, the majority ruled against having OUTVETS in the parade. While the reason for our denial is unclear, one can only assume it's because we are LGBTQ,"

"This is a sad day for the LGBTQ community but also a horrible day for Veterans. We served our country with honor and distinction. But even after successfully participating in this parade and bringing honor to those who have served, we are still fighting for the respect that comes with serving our country."

As Bay Windows went to press Wednesday night activists were posting contact information for the parade's corporate sponsors.

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