Group Veterans for Peace, who say they were denied a place alongside other vets in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because organizers said their pacifist message was not compatible with the event, are to hold their own parade and they are inviting gay groups, who endure a long-standing ban since the 90s, to march with them.
The group applied for a place with other veterans in January, but were surprised to find their application was turned down. The Boston Channel quotes Pat Scanion of Veterans For Peace saying, “When I asked why they didn’t grant our application, they say they did not want to have the word peace associated with the word vets.” He goes on to add, “I’m a Vietnam vet. I think that’s an outrageous statement.”
Phil Wuschke of the Allied War Veterans Council said that the message behind the group Veterans for Peace was incompatible with the aims of that particular vet parade, saying simply “we’re not that type of parade,” and telling The Boston Channel that he believed anti-war signs might offend men and women of the armed forces.
Parade organizers won the right to exclude whomever they wished from the event when, sixteen years ago, they took their legal fight to the U.S. Supreme Court to block gay groups from marching by virtue of the claim that this was a private religious function.
Not ones to give up, Veterans for Peace applied for a separate permit and were duly given permission to march so long as they start an hour later and stay a mile behind the Allied War Veterans Council.
Veterans for Peace has also extended an invitation to banned gay groups, allowing them to come and join the parade.
Join the Impact Massachusetts and other groups have said they will take up that offer. The event is now being called the St. Patrick’s Day Peace Parade.
This is not the first time St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been controversial and there is long-standing criticism concerning the banning of gay groups.
Recently, new Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore criticized New York St. Patrick’s parade organizers for excluding gay people, reportedly saying, “What these parades are about is a celebration of Ireland and Irishness. I think they need to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it. Equality is very much the center of who we are in our identity in Ireland.”
He continued: “This issue of exclusion is not Irish, let’s be clear about it. Exclusion is not an Irish thing [...] I think that’s the message that needs to be driven home.”
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