New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade bills itself as the oldest and largest such event in the world–indeed, it predates the American Revolution. The parade is sponsored privately, by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The parade draws around 200,000 participants and one to two million spectators every year, and has always been a festive occasion. This year, however, news coverage of the parade has been dominated by the gay issue–specifically, demands by homosexual groups that they be allowed to march carrying signs identifying themselves as gay, as well as banners promoting gay marriage and so on.
The parade’s organizers say that homosexuals are welcome to march in the parade, but with very limited exceptions, no signs and banners are allowed. Further, as a Catholic organization, the Hibernians do not authorize organized groups of gays to be units in the parade. But gays are not singled out in this regard; there are no approved heterosexual groups, pro-life groups or pro-Second Amendment groups, either. Despite this even-handed treatment, many news outlets have reported that gays are “banned” from the parade. Reuters, to cite just one example, headlined: “Guinness pulls out of NY’s St. Patrick’s parade over ban on gays.”
At the last minute, beer sponsors Guinness and Heineken dropped their affiliation with the event, in response to threats by homosexual groups to boycott their products. Guinness released a statement that said:
Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade.
As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.
But are homosexuals really treated unfairly? The parade’s organizers impose a uniform standard on those who take part, with the goal of putting on an enjoyable, high-quality event. No activist groups–not just gay organizations–are allowed to use the parade to promote their agendas. Political messages, with a single exception, are not permitted. These are the 2014 guidelines for parade participants. Click for larger file size:
Homosexuals are welcome to march, but they can’t carry flags or banners, other than the Irish and American flags; they can’t wear green hats, tennis shoes or any sort of “oddball” dress; they can’t bring animals; they can’t eat, drink or smoke; they can’t carry displays of any kind; and they must adhere to a business dress code. Gays can participate like anyone else, except that, consistent with Catholic teaching, they can’t carry a sign identifying their group as, for example, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization.
This morning, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was asked about the participation by gays in the parade:
“I know that there are thousands and thousands of gay people marching in this parade,” said Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who greeted passing dignitaries in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and was wearing a woolen Irish cap over his red cardinal’s skull cap. “I know it. And I’m glad they are.”
Dolan noted that he’s not part of the parade leadership and therefore not responsible for who participates, but he said he supports the participation of individual gays. The cardinal declined to comment on the mayor’s boycott.
“I’m just hoping this is a day of unity and radiance and joy, I hope, bringing us all together,” Dolan said.
What is going on here is, at bottom, an effort to stamp out diversity. It is forbidden, in polite society, to believe (or to say, anyway) that homosexuality is in any way inferior to heterosexuality, or in any way problematic. Almost everywhere, the gay activists get their way. But there are a few holdouts; most notably, the Catholic Church, which for the most part remains true to its teachings. The St. Patrick’s Day parade issue is a purely symbolic one: not whether gays can march in the parade–they can–but whether they, as a group, will receive a stamp of approval from a Catholic organization. Much like the Obama administration bullying the Little Sisters of the Poor, the point is to force a religious organization to bow before the stronger political force, thereby betraying its principles. The activists want everyone–not just almost everyone–to conform to their will, and they want to show people of faith who is the boss.