New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has cast the Irish as "villains" in his decision to avoid the St. Patrick's Day Parade because of its exclusion of openly gay marchers, Niall O'Dowd, founder of IrishCentral.com, says.
"His decision to snub the … parade and his 'concession' that the FDNY and NYPD could wear their uniforms on the day is high-handed and provocative," O'Dowd wrote
in an editorial.
"I think he understood, at least, that asking New York heroes not to participate in the parade in their ceremonial dress, as some leftie leaders demanded, was akin to throwing a match into a gas tank."
Last week, de Blasio announced that he will forgo marching in the annual parade along Manhattan's Fifth Avenue because, "I simply disgaree with the organizers of that parade." He will be the first mayor in 20 years to not participate.
The event, run by private organizers, bans public expressions touting gay rights, including signs and chants.
"Politicians can march, sure, but they cannot advocate. That rarely gets explained. Parade organizers would turn down the Tea Party for the same reason," O'Dowd wrote.
"The parade organizers would be deeply anti-abortion but no such banners can be carried."
"What de Blasio has done, unnecessarily in my opinion, is cast the Irish as the villains and ensure that over St. Patrick’s Day the divisive issue will once again define this hard-working community that deserves so much better," O'Dowd says.
Bill Donohue, president of New York City’s Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said of de Blasio's snub:
"Personally, I am delighted. I lead the Catholic League contingent every year, and I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics.”
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and other city officials signed a petition calling for the mayor to ban city workers from marching in the parade while wearing their uniforms since members of the LGBT community could not publicly display anything that would promote their community.
De Blasio would not go along with James' request.
“I believe uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right,” de Blasio said.
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