While the Irish in Ireland have shown that the overwhelming majority of them support gay and lesbian couples, the Irish-Americans here in the U.S. don’t seem to be as welcoming as their overseas cousins.
Irish Central reported earlier this month that several sources have said the chairman of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is looking for a new television broadcaster for the event. In March of this year, the parade committee, for the first time, allowed an openly gay organization to march: OUT@NBC, the LGBT employees organization of NBC, the parade’s broadcaster.
In addition to the unnamed sources, Irish Central also reported on a speech made by John Dunleavy, the parade chair:
“[S]peaking at a parade lunch in April, Dunleavy said gay groups would ‘have a problem’ securing a slot in next year’s line of march.”
The news account reported that Dunleavy plans to stand his ground on not allowing an LGBT group march in next year’s parade. Reporting on an interview with the chariman, the article stated:
” ‘Some of the guys talked to me. There is going to be some changes,’ Dunleavy said when asked about next year’s march by the interviewer at a lunch for parade volunteers held at Antun’s in Queens.
” ‘No major changes but there is going to be changes. I am going to run for another term and [at] that time we will put certain items into the changes that we need.’
“Clearly commenting on the inclusion of gay groups in next year’s march, Dunleavy warned, ‘The parade itself is not there to promote anybody’s particular agenda in any way, shape or form. The parade represents our faith, our heritage and our culture, nothing more and nothing less. So we’re going to keep to that, and anybody who wants to mix that up is going to have a problem next year.’ “
Dunleavy’s strategy may backfire, sources said, because financial backers who were happy with an inclusive parade may withdraw from their parade support. Even New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the 2015 Grand Marshall, was fine with the inclusion of an LGBT group.
Parade viewers, too, seemed happy with the inclusive approach of the 2015 parade:
“OUT@NBC was one of the final marching units to take part in the parade and were well received by those who remained on Fifth Avenue. Their debut as the first gay group in the march was covered by media from around the world, and they were humbled by being the first to break the barrier.”
Dunleavy should listen to the will of the people, who have shown that they are ready for an inclusive parade. If he doesn’t, then on next March 17th, very few Irish eyes will be smiling.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry