Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wearing the Rainbow with the Green on Fifth Ave

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wearing the Rainbow with the Green on Fifth Ave

Article excerpt

ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY everyone claims to be Irish. Even gay people. And that has |been an issue with the organizers of the |St. Patrick's Day Parade, an event that has been part of the fabric of New York City life since before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Parade organizers have steadfastly refused to allow gay organizations to march under their own banner. Former New York Mayor David Dinkins marched with a gay group in the parade in 1991, but that was an aberration. It was also ugly. Dinkins referred to the hostile crowd reactions as akin to marching in Birmingham, Ala.

Much has changed in 20 years. On Wednesday, it was announced that the parade committee unanimously voted to allow OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT employee group within the media giant, to march in the 2015 parade. WNBC televises the parade.

The New York parade is not sponsored by the Catholic archdiocese; it is an independently run event. Yet Catholicism has been part of the parade ethic, and Catholic teaching on homosexuality has been used as a barrier against allowing openly gay groups from participating. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march in the parade this year. Perhaps of more consequence to parade organizers was the loss of Guinness as a sponsor.

Yet it is likely the loudest voice was not in New York but in Rome: Pope Francis wants Catholic bishops to stop obsessing over sexual orientation and focus more on issues of poverty, violence and social injustice. The pope's comment on homosexuals in the church, "Who am I to judge?" opened doors to many disaffected Catholics.

Despite the jubilant sounds coming from many gay-rights organizations, the reactions are not all positive. Some gay-rights activists note that allowing only one openly gay organization to march in the parade is hardly full inclusion. It is not, but it is a start. And there are still some folks who want things the way they were. Some readers' comments below the parade story on northjersey.com were enlightening. Here's a sampling:

"Perverts have to Pervert Everything ... it's what they do."

"Guess what gays? All you do is engender dislike and repulsion with this sort of thing. I used to not really care what gay people do. Now I find them revolting. I won't do business with them, but believe me, I am very sly on how I won't do it, so good luck suing me. I won't do business at a gay establishment, and I'll look the other way when I do see unfairness towards gays."

The most disturbing came from a man who identified himself as a sergeant in the Port Authority Police Department: "That's it for me; I'll never march in another one. When a private Catholic parade with a long tradition of family values cave in to accommodate 1% of the population who scream the loudest, they aren't worth my time."

Anti-gay hostility is bad enough, but this is coming from someone who identifies himself as a Port Authority police sergeant. …

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