Let me start by saying, “I’ve got Irish blood in me.” All my ancestors came across the pond on boats bound for American from their homeland of Ireland. Although I don’t partake in green beer and drunken buffoonery often synonymous with St. Patty’s Day, I enjoy the pipes, kilts and green parade festivities of St. Patrick’s Day. Hey, it’s a day when we’re all Irish, right? Wrong.
In cities across America, parade organizers have excluded LGBT participants from marching, causing some women candidates to stay away from St. Patrick’s Day parades. Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley did not participate in the South Boston parade this year because of its “exclusion of LGBT groups.”
In Cincinnati, Vice Mayor and current candidate for mayor, Roxanne Qualls, sent out a press release announcing her withdrawal from Cincinnati’s parade citing the same reason, exclusion of an LGBT education group. Qualls noted that the parade is one of a handful that the city subsidizes by waiving 90% of the police and fire fees that would normally be charged for parades.
Another Cincinnati City Councilwoman, Laure Quinlivan chose to participate but she carried a large banner displaying a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end with the words “We Support Equality.”
New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn refused to participate in the large Hibernians Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “Every morning when I wake up I’m Irish lesbian. I’m a package deal. I don’t come a la carte. You want me, you get all of me,” said Quinn in an interview with Edge New York. Instead Quinn participated in a parade in Queens.
The good news for candidates and fans of big Irish parades is that members of the LGBT community are welcome in St. Patrick’s Day parades in cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Buffalo NY. Some LGBT friendly groups have banded together to hold their own inclusion parades. It is sad that most of the LGBT groups requesting a spot in parades are spreading messages of inclusion, acceptance and love.
Erin go braugh! (Ireland forever)
Kathy Groob is a business and political consultant, founder of the ElectWomen movement to help women learn about politics and to encourage them to become involved and to provide the tools for women to run for office. She was elected to city council in her hometown of Ft.Mitchell two times before running unsuccessfully for the Kentucky Senate. She is the author of Pink Politics, The Woman’s Practical Guide to Winning Elections and is partner at November Strategies in Covington, KY. For more information, visit http://electwomen.com.