by Rick Winterson
You have likely heard that some individuals have changed their minds, and have canceled their commitments to take part in the 2017 St. Patrick’s/Evacuation Day Parade on March 19.
Their reason for boycotting the 2017 Parade was the decision by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council not to let the OutVets group join the Parade this year.
Members of the Allied War Veterans stated that the OutVets group submitted their Parade application late. The deadline is February 15; the OutVets themselves submitted their application on time last year and were admitted to the 2016 Parade.
This year, the OutVets Parade application arrived late in February; in addition, there had been some violations of Parade rules in the past two Parades. At the Allied War Veterans Council meeting Tuesday evening, the Council members voted not to make an exception to the rules, or to waive the February 15 deadline. As a result, the OutVets were denied permission to march in the Parade this year.
In any event, the 2017 Parade will go on as scheduled.
We’ve included the quotes of those choosing not to participate:
“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city. I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh
“It is a disgrace for the members of the Allied War Veterans Council to reverse past gains and this year banish the OUTVETS. It is not only disrespectful to the LGBTQ men and women who fought for all Americans, but also to the good people of South Boston. I call on the leadership to reverse its discriminatory decision immediately. I do not believe this vote is representative of the entire membership. I will do everything in my power to make sure this happens. I support all of our American hero veterans, for whom I have the utmost respect.
Like Mayor Walsh, and I hope many other elected officials, I will not march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade that is not fully inclusive.
In this day and age, in a city that is so committed and has made so much progress toward equality, it is outrageous that a veteran’s group would discriminate against another veteran’s group. The veterans denied their right to march have sacrificed as much for our liberty as every other veteran on that council.
I already have spoken to Bryan Bishop, Founder and Executive Officer of OUTVETS, and several other members, including Alex Oneto, John Affuso and Dan Forrester, to thank them for their service and sacrifice to this country, and to express my full support.
With everything that is happening in this country right now, we need to focus on renewing unity and not legitimizing hate. To that end, I will always do everything I can to make sure that nothing less than full inclusiveness, equality and respect is the standard.”
Mike Kelley, Candidate for District 2 Boston City Council
“Due to the council vote March 7, 2017 by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council not allowing the Veternas Group OutVets to participate in the South Boston Evacuation Day Parade, I have decided to step down as the 2017 Chief Marshal.”