A decision announced in early September by the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, will allow some gays to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, specifically the NBC-affiliated LGBT group OUT@NBCUniversal.
The announcement has been seen by many as a change of heart towards the gay community by the organizers, who have long claimed that the parade is a Catholic parade.
The 2014 Parade made headlines last March when NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio refused to participate and Irish beer icon Guinness dropped sponsorship because the LGBT community were not allowed to participate.
A softening of conservative attitudes towards the gay community seems to be taking place within the Catholic Church. Last year, Pope Francis, when asked about gays seeking God, said, “Who am I to judge?”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will serve as the 2015 Grand Marshal of the Parade, offered nothing but “confidence and support” to the parade committee, saying in a press release, “I have no trouble with the decision at all. I think the decision is a wise one.”
However, some Catholics are dissatisfied with Dolan’s statement, seeing it as incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
Phil Lawler, the editor and founder of Catholic World News, rebuked Dolan and the committee’s decision saying, “You don’t honor a saint by encouraging a sin.” And the “Catholic Citizens of Illinois” sent an open letter to Cardinal Dolan asking him to step down because of the “great probability of misunderstandings, confusion and scandal among the faithful.”
Cardinal Dolan has remained resolute.
Meanwhile, opposition has also broken out within the gay and lesbian community, where many found the decision politically motivated and insincere, noting that only one gay group was asked to march.
Nathan Schaefer, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, told The Washington Post that the parade committee’s announcement was “disappointing and self serving,” adding that it “is a far stretch from the full inclusion we deserve.”
Members of Irish Queers held a news conference on the steps of the New York Public Library in Manhattan and called on OUT@NBC to withdraw from the parade.
While divisiveness seems widespread, compromise seems possible. Irish LGBT activist Brendan Fay remained positive that both sides will be able to come to an agreement telling The Irish Voice, “our message to the Parade Committee is that we would prefer to build a bridge than drive a wedge.”