St. Patrick's Day parade organizers for the first time are allowing an LGBT group to openly march this year, but gay rights organizations and several elected officials announced Tuesday they will continue to boycott the event until it is more inclusive.
City Council members Danny Dromm and Rosie Mendez, who are part of the council's LGBT caucus, joined nonprofits -- including the Irish Queers, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and VOCAL-NY -- outside City Hall Tuesday to blast New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade Inc., accusing them of "trickery."
In September, the organizers announced that OUT@NBCuniversal, an LGBT group made up of employees of the network, which airs the parade, would be allowed to openly march in the parade. Other LGBT groups couldn't join this year's parade because organizers said there wasn't enough space this year.
"It's not a solution to a problem we have been working on for 25 years," Dromm, an Irish Catholic, said.
A spokeswoman for the organizers noted that Out@NBC has 300 marchers and the marching slots for the parade has been finalized.
"City Council members are welcome to march, too, but they have no say in our marching unit selection process," spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in a statement.
Dromm said the LGBT caucus and Irish caucus would boycott the celebration this year and urged other council members and organizations to join in. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she would continue not to march in the Manhattan parade.
"Proud Irish New Yorkers should not be forced to hide their identities -- period," she said in a statement yesterday
Emmaia Gelman, of the Irish Queers, said there was no reason for the parade members to keep up their 25-year ban on groups. She said they permitted NBC's organization to march to mitigate the bad press that cost them important backers during the 2014 parade.
"Irish LGBT people have always been part of the community," she said.
Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first sitting mayor in 20 years to not march in the 5th Avenue parade. The City Council joined the boycott and several sponsors, such as Guinness and Heineken, dropped out of the parade.
A representative from Heineken said the company hasn't made a decision about sponsoring the parade and Guinness didn't return messages for comment.
De Blasio hasn't made a decision about the festivities.
"We need to see what level of inclusion is being afforded. So, I'm going to keep an open mind, but it's very, very important to me that all events like that be inclusive," he told reporters last week.
Following the September announcement, the Catholic League announced it wouldn't be marching because they weren't allowed to do so under an anti-abortion banner, according to its president Bill Donohue.