Sam Adams Pulls Out Of Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade In Support Of Gay Rights, And It's About Time
Organizers of Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade can continue trying to exclude gay people from the event, but they'll be parading without Sam Adams beer behind them. The Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adams, announced Friday that they're pulling their sponsorship of the massive parade, in light of organizers' refusal to allow an affiliate of gay-rights group MassEquality to join the march.
Their statement reads as follows:
We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible. We share these sentiments with Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and others and therefore we will not participate in this year's parade.
This came just one day after South Boston's Club Cafe announced they wouldn't sell Sam Adams because of the brewery's sponsorship of the parade.
The sticking point in negotiations between MassEquality and the parade's organizing body, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, seems to boil down to a matter of visibility. MassEquality wants to march in the parade bearing signs and banners which identify the marchers as gay, but the organizers are, suffice to say, not down with that. The parade has long excluded any gay-rights groups from participating.
If that sounds flatly homophobic, you'd be right, but they do have law on their side — in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that the Veterans Council has complete authority to choose who can march and who cannot.
In a confusing twist, the Veterans Council has said that they always exclude activist groups from the parade, and that they were "misled" by MassEquality, saying that their affiliate in question, LGBT Veterans for Equality, is not a recognized veterans' organization. They also claim the group lied on their entry application about the number of members that would attend.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has tried to resolve the conflict, and if he fails he'll miss out on all the fun too, having made it explicitly clear he won't attend if the parade follows along this exclusionary path.
He will, however, still attend the annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast, hosted this year by Haitian-American state Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry — the first black woman (or man, for that matter) to do so. Sam Adams will still sponsor the breakfast, which typically features politicians from throughout the state of Massachusetts.