Catholic League bows out of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The League says a pro-life group isn’t allowed to walk with its own banner.

A week after the organizers of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade said they will allow an LGBT group to march for the first time, the Catholic League said it will not participate because anti-abortion groups still are not permitted.

Bill Donohue announced Thursday that he and his members won’t be marching in next year’s parade, because organizers won’t allow an anti-abortion organization to march.

Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, has been vocal about LGBT groups marching under their own banner and said he felt it was unfair anti-abortion organizations could not do the same.

“For the past two decades I have been the parade’s most vocal defender of its rules. Repeatedly, I have said that gays have no more been banned from marching than anti-abortion Catholics have: members of both groups can march with other units; they simply can’t march under their own banner,” he wrote in a statement yesterday.

Donohue, who criticized the mayor and City Council for not marching in this year’s parade because of its ban on LGBT groups, said he talked with the parade organizers to change the rules and allow an anti-abortion group to walk with its own banner.

He said they initially agreed but later came back to him and said that no such group would be allowed to participate.

Bill O’Reilly, a spokesman for the parade, said “It’s disappointing and the Catholic League will always be welcomed in the parade.” The Archdiocese of New York didn’t return immediate calls for comment. Last week, the celebration’s administrators said they would allow OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT group associated with the network, to march under its own banner in next year’s parade.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the parade’s grand marshal, said he had no problem with the decision.

Other LGBT groups said they have sent applications to participate in the parade, including the Irish Queers. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council haven’t said whether they will march next year.

Ivan Pereira