The organizers of the popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston have reversed their decision to ban a group of gay veterans from walking in the parade on Friday.
The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council (who organizes the event) announced on the parade’s Twitter account.
Acceptance letter signed by Parade Organizer to allow @OUTVETS to march in 2017 parade.
— St. Patrick's Parade (@ParadeBoston) March 10, 2017
A lawyer for OutVets said on Friday that the group looked forward to “marching proudly” and representing LGBTQ veterans.
“We are honored and humbled by all the outpouring of support that has been displayed for our LGBTQ veterans – who are one of the most unrepresented demographics in our veterans community,” said lawyer Dee Dee Edmondson.
It was unclear if the reversal of the decision was a result of a second vote by the council.
“I decided this is a wrong that has to be corrected,” the parade’s lead organizer, Tim Duross, told WHDH-TV.
Earlier yesterday, OutVets executive director Bryan Bishop said the vets had been told the original decision to bar them was because of their rainbow symbols.
Bishop said the council offered to allow the group to march if its members did not display the rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, which is on their banner and their jackets. The group refused.
“I almost fell out of the chair at that point,” Bishop said.
He said OutVets has displayed the rainbow at the parade since they were first permitted to participate in the parade in 2015, which was seen as a groundbreaking decision after organizers had resisted the inclusion of gay groups.
Another veterans group, Veterans for Peace, said they also had been denied permission to participate. The group has been trying unsuccessfully for several years to march.
The case went to the US Supreme Court, which in 1995 upheld the council’s right to bar gay groups on free speech grounds.