Unicorns, not Uniforms! (Marching in St. Pats' for All this Sunday!)

A contingent from the coalition of LGBTQ & police accountability groups will be marching in the St. Pat's for All Parade in Queens this Sunday March 2nd.

The parade begins at Skillman Ave and 47th Street. We'll be arriving at 12:30pm with a picnic. (We are arriving early to talk to press and do outreach!) The parade steps off at 2PM with speeches and opening remarks before hand. 

We'll be keeping our messaging focused on upholding the city's human rights law. We plan to march behind the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

Text 212 289-1101 or 718-909-3956 if you can't find us!

Press release: Irish/LGBTQ Coalition Slams Bratton on Anti-Gay Parade

PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release - Feb. 28, 2014

Irish/LGBTQ Coalition Slams NYPD Commissioner’s Decision to Join St. Patrick’s Day Parade; Bratton Endorsement of Homophobia Taints Police-Community Relations.

Marching in 'St. Pat’s for All' this Sunday, Coalition will call for withdrawal of uniformed NYPD & FDNY participation in Fifth Ave parade.

Press availability for comment at ‘St. Pat’s for All’ parade: Sunday 3/2 from 1-2pm in Sunnyside, Queens: 47th Street, mid-block between Skillman Ave. and 39th Ave. 

Contact:  Emmaia Gelman (917) 517-3627

New York – "NYPD Commissioner Bratton's announcement that he will march in the homophobic St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue is a slap in the face to LGBTQ people and all New Yorkers," said JF Mulligan of Irish Queers. "The Commissioner's one-word dismissal of a boiling civil rights issue is insulting and deliberately provocative. Bratton should be joining the Mayor and the City Council in refusing to endorse the insistent bigotry of the parade organizing committee.”

A coalition of more than 200 groups and individuals concerned with LGBTQ rights and biased policing had written to NYPD Commissioner Bratton and FDNY Commissioner Cassano last week, outlining their obligation to withdraw their official endorsement from biased events. Neither Commissioner responded. (See letter: http://irishqueers.blogspot.com/2014/02/calling-commissioners.html.)

“This parade was recast as a ‘private, religious procession’ for the sole purpose of circumventing anti-discrimination law. How are we supposed to watch thousands of cops march in an exclusionary, religious-right parade and then somehow trust them with our safety?” said Mulligan.

“Commissioner Bratton’s refusal even to acknowledge the LGBTQ community’s concern is a glaring confirmation that the NYPD is not accessible to us. Commissioner Bratton’s history in NYC inspires fear, not confidence, in communities who have been the targets of NYPD bias. His casual disregard translates directly to homophobia in the precincts,” said Jennifer Flynn of Irish Queers.

Early in February, the coalition petitioned Mayor de Blasio to pull uniformed City officials from the parade. The Mayor has not agreed to do that, although the request prompted the Mayor’s announcement that he would not attend the parade himself.

“The Mayor’s boycott of the parade is undermined by Commissioner Bratton’s declaration of his intention to march. The Mayor has to take action to stand the City in opposition to this parade. If police in Russia marched in an anti-gay parade in uniform, it would be front page news here,” said Flynn.

“The NYPD and FDNY's participation in the parade is hugely questionable under the law – and the fact that the Mayor doesn't seem concerned with remedying this problem is as disturbing legally as it is morally and politically,” said civil rights attorney Alan Levine in an earlier statement.

Government ministers in Ireland are also supporting the boycott and calling on Ireland’s conservative prime minister to stay away. LGBTQ organizations in Ireland have called on the Irish government and Gardaí (police) to shun the parade and reject its skewed portrayal of Irish culture. 

The coalition will march in the St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens this Sunday.



Hello progressives! NYC anti-gay parade boycott is now City Council policy.

Melissa! A progressive City Council has been so long coming.
Great news today as the NYC City Council pulls the plug on its participation in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Nearly all Councilmembers have honored the long-standing boycott anyway, but the Council always had a banner and a few die-hard 'phobes on the march. This marks the end of politicians' watery "wishing the parade were inclusive" while also courting religious-right money by refusing to pull NYC institutions out of the march. Not before time!

Now we await the response of the NYPD and FDNY Commissioners to our request to uphold human rights law -- we asked them last week, and gave them till tomorrow to reply. (We've been here before... Ray Kelly never even acknowledged the communication. But then, he had been Grand Marshal of the parade the year prior. And the City Council hadn't just laid bare the issue. That was then.)

Irish Queers' Jennifer Flynn said:
"The Speaker's move to expand the boycott of the parade is really welcome -- the City Council can and must take a stronger stand on this than individually staying out of the parade. New Yorkers have sent a strong message to our electeds. We want progressive leadership that is willing to take a stand for social justice.
We've also asked the NYPD and FDNY Commissioners to withdraw their permission for uniformed cops and firefighters to march, which is their obligation -- we asked them to respond by tomorrow. 
The City has to remove all traces of itself from this unapologetically homophobic parade. There's no question about the parade's message. It's so bigoted that the mere presence of identifiable queers is deeded "a political statement" against the parade. There's just no way for the City to participate without trampling its own human rights law." 

And here's some of the early coverage:

City Council Will Not Field Formal Contingent in St. Pat’s Parade
Gay City News
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will announce later today that the Council will not field a formal contingent in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue, Gay City News has learned.

Wall Street Journal (blog) 
The New York City Council will not participate “as an institution” in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue because of the parade organizers' rules effectively barring gay groups from marching, the council's new speaker said Tuesday. Speaker Melissa ...

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced today that the City Council will not officially participate in the Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade on any level. The announcement comes in the wake of Mayor Bill de Blasio's commitment to boycott the ...

New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV
NEW YORK (PIX11) – Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced Tuesday that the City Council will not be attending this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade because the parade does not allow groups with LGBT signs to march. “The St. Patrick's Parade ...

Wall Street Journal
NEW YORK — The New York City Council won't have an official presence at the city's St. Patrick's Day parade this year because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves while marching, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito ...

Following Mayor Bill de Blasio announcement that he will break with a recent tradition and refuse to march in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick's Day parade, the City Council has announced it will do the same. Citing the parade's exclusion of openly gay participants ...

... march in the gay-friendly St. Pats for All 2013 parade in Queens. Credit Spencer T. Tucker/ Mayor's Office. The New York City Council won't attend this year's St. Patrick's Day parade, following Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to skip it himself.

New York Daily News (blog) 
“This City Council is committed to celebrating and respecting the diversity of New York City and that is why we've decided to not participate in the parade. I hope the organizers will eventually realize that the parade will be better when all New Yorkers can ...

About - Cities & Towns 
Today, CBS News also announced, "New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the council won't have an official presence at this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves ...


Round-up: "Irish grapple with gay rights in New York and Ireland"

Sometimes the BBC gets it right:
Irish grapple with gay rights in New York and Ireland, 18 February 2014

Unlike his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will sit out this year's St Patrick's Day parade
Gay rights has become a subject of intense debate in Irish communities on both sides of the Atlantic this month. It is perhaps a reflection of the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality and the rapidly changing perceptions of gay equality in the West.
We'll start in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he will be sitting out the city's massive St Patrick's Day parade next month because the event organisers do not allow gay Irish-American groups to openly participate.
For homosexual rights organisations, and many of the city's left-wing activists, it was yet another sign that Mr de Blasio is living up to his reputation as an unabashed liberal crusader, in contrast to his predecessor, multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who governed with the firm backing of the city's establishment.

Start Quote

Conflating ignorance and violence against gay people with holding different views on same-sex marriage is far from reasonable”
Michael CliffordIrish Examiner
"Hooray for Bill!" writes Matthew Breen in Out magazine. "It's a mean-spirited exclusion, and the organizers should once again be ashamed of themselves. We're glad to see de Blasio is giving it a miss."
Others expressed some disappointment that Mr de Blasio didn't prohibit city employees, including police officers, from marching in uniform. In an open letter to the mayor, a group of gay rights groups, former and current elected officials and city residents wrote:
The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people.
The decision was quickly condemned by critics on the right.
"De Blasio's refusal to participate in the parade out of supposed solidarity with homosexual activists signals a hierarchy of political priorities," writes Gregg Campbell of the Tea Party News Network. "It appears obvious that de Blasio is more than willing to offend the city's Irish population by snubbing their parade in order to further honor the gay community."
Bill Donahue of the conservative Catholic League said the event should be about Irish pride, not politics:
The great myth has always been that the parade is anti-gay: in previous years, I have gone on the radio inviting gays to march with the Catholic League, provided they do not draw attention to themselves or to some extrinsic cause.
Panti Bliss gives a speech about oppression and homophobia
Cahir O'Doherty in the New York-based Irish Central website counters that it's important for gay Irish-Americans to be able to carry a banner in the parade "because if you are not seen you are not heard. And when you are neither seen nor heard, bad things can happen to you without anyone noticing. Gay people know this, but apparently quite a few others need to be reminded."
The parade controversy is making waves across the Atlantic, as well, where Irish government officials are split on whether to participate or join Mr de Blasio's boycott. Irish Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, who will be in New York on St Patrick's Day, has announced she will not march. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, on the other hand, has said he will travel to New York to attend.
The parade is just a blip compared to the larger debate going on in Ireland over gay rights, as a national referendum on same-sex marriage is scheduled for next year. The issue caught fire earlier this month after prominent Irish drag queen Panti Bliss called two journalists and a Catholic lobby group "homophobic" during a television interview.
The Irish national broadcaster, RTE, paid $116,000 (£70,000) to settle defamation charges stemming from the interview, prompting Panti (Rory O'Neill when not in drag) to take to the stage at a Dublin theatre and offer an impassioned speech about feeling oppressed as a gay man in Ireland and the meaning of homophobia.
"For the last three weeks I have been lectured to by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and about who is allowed to identify it," he said. "And so now Irish gay people, we find ourselves in this ludicrous situation where are not only not allowed to say publically what we feel oppressed by, we're not even allowed to think it because the very definition, our definition, has been disallowed by our betters."
He continues: "Now it turns out that gay people are not victims of homophobia, homophobes are the victims of homophobia."
Michael Clifford in the Irish Examiner disagrees. He writes that just because you're against gay marriage doesn't mean you're a homophobe - any more than President Barack Obama was a homophobe up until a few years ago, when he came out in support of gay marriage.

Start Quote

The thing about poison is that it's indiscriminate”
Cahir O'DohertyIrish Central
"Conflating ignorance and violence against gay people with holding different views on same sex marriage is far from reasonable," he writes. "And projecting an image of arrogance, or intolerance to opposing views, is not the way to campaign" for marriage equality.
The Irish Times' Fintan O'Toole, on the other hand, thinks it's just a matter of time before "an honest belief that it is OK for the law to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples" is considered homophobia.
He continues:
It's good that most of those who oppose gay marriage love and respect and cherish individual gay people, though they should hardly expect a pat on the back for not hating their fellow citizens. But they need to recognise that that's not enough. The whole point of the law is that it's not about giving people equal status because you like them. It's about freeing people from subjection to the arbitrariness of other people's benevolence.
The Independent's Ian O'Doherty writes that the contentious back-and-forth risks alienating the majority of the population in Ireland, who "don't really care that much one way or the other".
"They are the ones who have a healthy dose of contempt for the strident, tedious militants who have hijacked the debate from the original participants and are duking it out in an increasingly ridiculous war of words," he writes.
Back on the US side of the ocean, Irish Central's O'Doherty wonders why the gay rights issue has so divided the Irish community.
"I have been personally shocked by the deep contempt that's unleashed by some within the Irish community over Irish gay groups," he writes. "I wonder at the intensity of it.
"Don't people realize that it could be your own kids that you're blackguarding? Or your neighbor's kids? Or your niece or your nephew? The thing about poison is that it's indiscriminate."


Calling the Commissioners

NYPD are not "participants", they're close comrades in the parade.
Photo: DNAinfo.com
Yesterday the Ad Hoc Committee to Ban NYPD & FDNY Participation in Discriminatory Parades -- the group that includes Irish Queers and many of the others who signed the initial request to Mayor de Blasio -- sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Bratton and FDNY Commissioner Cassano.

The letter asks them to prohibit uniformed NYPD and FDNY officers from marching in the parade, and to prohibit use of departmental resources for organizing participation in the parade. No more recruiting marchers through official NYPD and FDNY channels, and no more lining up in precincts. If they feel urgently that they must march in an anti-gay parade, the law says they should do it in their private capacity.

In 2011, Irish Queers and 12 other LGBTQ groups -- including the LGBT Advisory Committee to the NYPD -- sent a similar letter to then-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. He didn't even bother to acknowledge it. Why should he? He'd been the Grand Marshal of the parade in 2010. In 2011, he marched with Mayor Bloomberg at his side, at the front of the parade where the bigoted organizers gave him pride of place.

Upholding the law is a political process as well as a legal one, we know. It's not enough that the law prohibits City departments from expressing bias (and no law can prevent them from holding bigoted views that make pathological their daily interactions with communities.) But here's a moment in which we're all demanding police accountability. Muslim community surveillance, stop-and-frisk, and the daily acts of diminishment and violence toward queers, youth, homeless people and others -- we're saying no more. Challenge it on every front, and challenge it together.

The St. Patrick's Day parade represents more than two decades of NYPD and FDNY total disregard for queers, human rights law, and community outrage; at times, joyous and violent disregard. The homophobia is so clear that the new Mayor and nearly every public official in the City are forced to boycott. Ireland is in an uproar over it as well.

For the NYPD and FDNY to claim, in the face of all that, that their participation is somehow separate from the homophobia, the boycotts, the protests -- that would be more than silly. They'd be saying "you'll have to sue us if you want us to follow the law." And that wouldn't stand up at all.

Religion & the City

Those who think of NYC as a place where the streets are so many miles of open-air forum for free expression and diversity... must not live here. This is an incredibly difficult and conservative place for conversations about accountable policing, preserving secular spaces, and supporting communities that don't toe the mainstream line.

In this GCN editorial (and article reporting on some gay elected officials' mysterious refusal to get behind the queer community on the #$%^& parade issue) Gay City News pulls back the veil on how church & state are not so separate in New York City.

Discrimination and a Tale of Two Cities (Editor's letter, Gay City News)
'What I find most frustrating about de Blasio’s position on both these issues is that I suspect he “gets” the problem raised by uniformed cops marching on St. Patrick’s Day and by anti-gay congregations getting bargain-priced space in the public schools. Taking on the organizers of the parade, the uninformed police and firefighter groups that traditionally march, and congregations that may have strong support in specific neighborhoods could be viewed as a distraction for a new mayor with an ambitious agenda. But I am in no way minimizing the significant and laudable goals de Blasio is pursuing to say that the city must also be vigilant in making certain that its resources and legal and moral authority are not used to enable discrimination.'

Despite Mayor’s Firm No, St. Pat’s Activists Persevere (Duncan Osborne, Gay City News)
'Elected officials who support de Blasio’s progressive agenda and feel some loyalty toward a fellow Democrat may be declining to sign in order to give the mayor some political cover. “It’s weird and frustrating that [Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm] haven’t signed on,” Gelman said. “They are both in new positions of power in a world with a new progressive mayor. We know that when people with a history of activism get closer to power, they pull back from making demands.”'


In the press: Ireland rises against the NYC St. Patrick's parade and "time warp" homophobia

[These are in chronological order. Don't miss the broadcast clip at bottom!]

'Patrick's Day is not about sexuality' - Taoiseach Enda Kenny
"The Taoiseach came under fire in the Dail for agreeing to participate in the famous Fifth Avenue Procession - which has been criticised for its ban on posters promoting LGBT rights...Mr Kenny was asked by People Before Profit TD if he would wear a badge symbolising the LGBT community. He responded by stating he would be happy to wear a shamrock, which he says symbolises Irishness."

Split deepens in Irish government over taking part in New York parade
"The split in the Irish government over attitudes to marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York has deepened with Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore backing the decision of his cabinet minister colleague Joan Burton not to march. He is now at odds with his leader Enda Kenny, who has made it clear that he will march on the day and that the rules of the parade are a matter for the organizers."

Why do Irish LGBT's need a banner in the St. Pat's Parade?
"Many readers have asked this week why Irish gay groups want to carry an identifying banner in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York? Here's the short answer: because if you are not seen you are not heard. And when you are neither seen nor heard, bad things can happen to you without anyone noticing. Gay people know this, but apparently quite a few others need to be reminded. As the increasingly thuggish moves in Russia and Uganda and Nigeria have been reminding us for months now, legally enforced silence is biggest international enemy of LGBT rights."

NY parade is perfect time for Enda to take a stand:
The time-warp views of our Yankee cousins on homosexuality need to be thrown off the float
"AS SAINT Patrick's Day approaches, and Enda readies the bowl of shamrock, it's important that the 'brand Ireland' gospel is spread throughout America. And so, in a way, you could say that the spat over gays and the St Patrick's Day parade in New York has come at just the right time."

Secret behind who really runs the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Spoiler alert: it's not much of a secret.

Why New York mayor is right to cold shoulder this St Patrick's parade 
"Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who claims Irish ancestry (doesn't everyone?), got around the parades issue cutely enough by attending two in one day. The main one which bans what Mr Donohue would see as gays "drawing attention to themselves," and another elsewhere in the city which welcomes them, rainbow flags and all... De Blasio's stance...has once again turned the international spotlight on a ban that would appear to be totally at odds with a 21st century city that so prides itself on open-mindedness and liberalism. It says something that Vladimir Putin would feel entirely comfortable with the current St Paddy's parade restrictions."

NY St. Patrick's parade walks alone in banning gay groups
"Until recent years, it was joined by the India Day Parade, the Celebrate Israel Parade, and the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade, with the annual lead-up to each celebration marked by a heated debate much like the one happening now...'Every time one of New York City's ethnic parades says yes to the LGBT community it makes it harder for the shrinking number of parades, like St. Patrick's Day, that have said no, to continue to say no.'"

Burton criticised by colleagues for her decision to boycott New York parade
"Ms Burton yesterday said she would not be attending the parade because of its exclusion of gay and lesbian groups... Taoiseach Enda Kenny refused to take the same course and said he intends to march in next month's event... Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer, who last week spoke of being beaten and spat at for being gay, said he would prefer it if Mr Kenny did not take part. Social Protection Minister Joan Burton also heaped pressure on Mr Kenny by claiming that she would boycott the event until it became 'more inclusive.'"

Gay rights activists urge Taoiseach not to march in St Patrick’s Day parade: National Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Federation make plea to Enda Kenny
"Olivia McEvoy, chair of the National LGBT Federation, said it would be “inappropriate and wrong” for uniformed Garda members to march in the parade as it sends out “a hugely negative message to LGBT people” and damages efforts to establish police relations with the LGBT community."

Irish Minister refuses to march in New York St Patrick’s Day Parade
'There comes a time when you have to say to the organizers we have had enough of this discrimination and division. In an ideal world, no Taoiseach (PM) or no minister should march in the parade. For me the big issue, why is the ban still there, in a progressive city like New York?'"

Buttimer would ‘prefer’ if Kenny didn’t attend New York parade

Why De Blasio made the right call on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
"The world looks very different than it did in 1990 when this squabble was really getting started and crucially, so does United States federal and state law. Those who still support the continuing ban and even those who have simply grown complacent over the stalemate have failed to recognize that the nation is in a new moment, one that has long since left them behind. Some Irish observers have suggested that the mayor should have attempted to mediate the dispute. Instead of taking the unprecedented and historic step of blankly refusing to participate. He could have saved our blushes by involving himself in the argument, even though the parade organizers have given no indication they are of a mind to bring it to an end. After twenty-five years of shameful stalemate, I’m not sure what concessions these observers think he can actually win? It’s doubtful that even Senator George Mitchell could produce a new path forward."

Irish leader says he will march in New York St Patrick’s Day parade

Kenny won't bow to gay pressure on St. Patrick's Day parade

Lyons says ministers should not participate in NY parade

Beaten, spat at and harassed: Buttimer tells Dáil in homophobia debate

Spat on for being gay: TDs reveal homophobia pain

Gay rights groups urge Govt to boycott New York parade
"Speaking on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Brian Sheehan, Director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), called on the Government not to take part in the event...A number of lesbian, gay and bisexual rights organisations have called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to boycott the event. Speaking on the same station, Scott de Buitléir, editor of online LGBT magazine Eile, said he hoped Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, in particular, would not participate in the parade, given his reputation among the gay community as an outspoken promoter of gay rights."

Second strike by NY Mayor de Blasio against Irish
http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/niallodowd/Second-strike-by-NY-Mayor-de- Blasio-against-Irish.html
Another very silly article from Niall O'Dowd (in which he publicly wishes that de Blasio would play both sides?!) but the comments section is great... "De Blasio had the perfect out on the parade, one that his predecessor Michael Bloomberg took – march in the Irish gay parade a couple of weekends before March 17, and then on Fifth Avenue on the day itself."

Mayor de Blasio makes wrong call on Patrick’s Day parade
A ridiculous article in which the Irish Voice's Niall O'Dowd claims "The original gay group was the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, formed to help gay young Irish immigrants here cope with depression and exploitation issues" and is taken to task by ILGO members in reply. Since Irish Queers members' comments didn't make it past the moderator, one wonders whether the comments will be preserved, so here are a few:

Anne Maguire
As a founding member of ILGO and someone who was involved from the beginning for many years I am, yet again, gob-smacked by this article and its myriad inaccuracies. ILGO was not formed by a bunch of "exploited" and "depressed" Irish people but quite a broad-based group of people from North and South, of various political persuasions, class backgrounds and with a wide variety of interests. I don't doubt the writer's "friend" was depressed but we formed the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization not the Irish Exploited and Depressed Gay Organization.

ILGO was not hijacked by anyone - in fact, we were cheered on, by one and all, until the parade issue got too complicated, taking you out of your comfort zone as far as gay people are concerned. So, you manufactured the falsehood of a radical coup which you regurgitate whenever this issue arises. The truth is that the original people who started ILGO, stood our ground by deciding, as a group, not to go back into the closet and if that's hardcore then bully for us!

Also, you have some nerve stating that we had no interest in Irish issues. Even if you do not believe that equality for the LGBT community is a legitimate Irish issue ILGO was full of people who did work in other areas as well as people who could not give a toss about any issue, Irish or otherwise. Rather than revising history it would serve your readers better if you got over the fact that ILGO was not what you expected, or wanted. Better still, go be a reporter and find out if the AOH is ready to change it's tune.

Niall O'Dowd
Hannah it was as a result of an article i wrote abut a young Irish gay man in difficulty that ILGO was formed. I spoke at their first meeting and heavily advertised it as I felt strongly it was needed. The pity is no such group exists today because it was taken over by some who wanted to make the parade the issue -- and they did

Paul O'Dwyer
I was at the first, and probably every, meeting of ILGO over a period of several years, and I hate to minimize your role in it, but it was not formed because of depression or isolation or exploitation or whatever it is you want to call it, or because you knew of an Irish gay person in difficulty. There were a whole variety of people involved, with a diverse range of interests, from political to social to whatever it is they wanted it to be. It was the vehemence with which so many Irish and Irish-American people and institutions expressed their hatred of gay people once we applied to march in the parade that caused us to feel exploited, depressed and isolated, and that ultimately ended up defining the group.

None of wanted the parade to be "the issue", other than that it was an institution in which we rightly felt entitled to participate fully and freely, like everyone else. It is unfortunate that you think we shouldn't have done so.

Anne Maguire
I was at the first meeting of ILGO and Mr. O'Dowd, you were not present. You did not start ILGO either - I responded to an ad in the Irish Voice newspaper as did most others present at the first meeting. You may have placed that ad but nevertheless, rewriting our history, not your's, is pretty arrogant. The parade became an issue when ILGO refused to be beaten back into the closet - I would argue that the AOH made the parade an issue and over the years it became an "issue" for all kinds of people and organizations for various reasons - your publication included. I believe you did not and do not like the idea of gay people who are not ashamed of themselves for being gay, or Irish for that matter. It's okay if we're "victims" and "in difficulty" but not okay if we're perfectly intact and able and willing to stand up for ourselves. Sadly, all these years later nothing much has changed.

[BROADCAST] Gay rights groups do not want Government representatives at New York St. Patrick’s Day parade
"Gay rights group say they don't want government representatives to attend the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York. The Taoiseach and Tanaiste had earlier claimed that they had the backing of the gay community. It's a huge story all over the United States. For the first time in 20 years, the Mayor of New York is boycotting the St. Patrick's Day parade because it bans marchers who carry gay pride [sic] signs."


Vintage video: 1991 & 1992 St. Patrick's parade

Lest we forget where this all began, here's video from the 1991 and 1992 NYC St. Patrick's Parade. 1991 is the year ILGO marched in spite of the ban, with Mayor Dinkins, as guests of a progressive AOH contingent. The experience was so awful that ILGO refused to march again without full status -- as a contingent of out queers marching in their own community's parade. (Since then, much of the Irish and Irish American community has overcome their homophobia.)

The next year, 1992, was first of many in which our protests were attacked or quashed and criminalized by the NYPD. In 1993, the parade organizers defined the parade in court as a "private, religious procession" in order to secure the right to their "explicitly anti-gay message."

NYC police have no such right, so our protest focuses on them. The NYPD has never been neutral on the question of queers and the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. Every year that they march, we're reminded that we only matter to them when we're forcing their hand.

Many thanks to Lisa for digitizing this footage in 2014!


GCN: Barely Taking a Breath, de Blasio Says “Nyet”

Less than 24 hours after LGBT activists and their allies called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to bar uniformed city personnel from marching in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade, they received a pretty firm no. 
Asked by reporters on February 4 for his response to the activists’ letter, the mayor said, “I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right.”


Sign yourself on to DeBlasio letter!

Press release: DeBlasio under fire

Feb. 4, 2014



Contact: Emmaia Gelman (917) 517-3627, emmaia.gelman@gmail.com

Yesterday a broad-based community letter called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to direct NYPD and FDNY Commissioners to stop sending uniformed officers to the nation's largest anti-LGBTQ event—the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. In response, the Mayor has ducked and punted, saying only that he won't march himself. This isn't much to be celebrated: no truly progressive politician has marched since the parade banned the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization from marching with its banner in 1991, and Mayor Dinkins stood alongside ILGO only to be pelted with beer cans.
The parade is explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory. Because the NYC Human Rights Commission said it violated the City's human rights law in 1992, parade organizers sought deliberately to define it as a private and religious event in order to continue to exclude LGBTQ people. Indeed, John Dunleavy, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman, infamously compared LGBTQ marchers to the KKK being allowed to march in an African-American parade in Harlem.  
Police and firefighters march by the thousands, making up most of the parade. (Did you think it was a celebration of Irish pride? That’s so 1992.) Their uniforms clearly convey that the City endorses the march. The Mayor's cavalier dismissal of the City's human rights law today compounds that effect. We get it: we LGBTQ people don't matter.
When NYPD and the FDNY wear their official work uniforms and march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, they diminish their sworn respect for the laws of this great city and violate the spirit of the city’s human rights law. Employers make rules about uniforms and that’s the issue in dispute – the wearing of official uniforms which conveys to the world that this parade’s bigotry is endorsed by our city government.

But the law protects us, and we will insist that the Mayor uphold it. We are told that we can march if we don’t identify ourselves in any way. If that is the way we are to be treated, then City personnel should march as individuals with their counties but not in City uniforms.
While we protest the rising homophobia in Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, we seek to end homophobic discrimination here at home as well. The St. Pat’s Parade has a right to its anti-gay march under the constitution. But the City and all supporters of human rights must do everything we can to isolate it.

The coalition’s full letter to Mayor de Blasio with scores of signatories from the City, civic, activist and legal communities is here: http://irishqueers.blogspot.com/2014/02/deblasio-letter.html

“The NYC human rights law is a protection for LGBTQ people and others who have been subject to discrimination, some overt and some  more subtle but equally insidious. It says that the City cannot reduce minority groups' access to services like policing and public safety. Federal case law also affirms it: the police cannot do their job where they are viewed 'more as oppressor than protector.’ The NYPD and FDNY's participation in the parade is hugely questionable under the law—and the fact that the Mayor doesn't seem concerned with remedying this problem is as disturbing legally as it is morally and politically.

If the guarantee  of respect for equality and dignity that is embedded in human rights law and the constitution means anything, it surely means that uniformed police – who are charged with equal enforcement of the law – should not be parading down a public street conveying a message of contempt for one of our City’s communities.”

"We see discriminatory policing every day that targets LGBTQ people, youth of color and other marginalized communities. When police put so much energy into marching in a parade that openly discriminates, and the mayor condones it, it sends the wrong signal about whether the culture of the NYPD is really changing. There’s no doubt Mayor de Blasio recognizes that the parade’s policy is wrong. We hope that he reconsiders his decision regarding the participation of uniformed city workers in the parade to reflect a consistent policy of inclusion and respect for LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

“We have spent the past 22 years at the sidelines of the St Patrick’s Day Parade being spat on, threatened and marginalized. Initially homophobia was an Irish community problem, but changes here and in Ireland have done away with much of that early tension. All that's left are the NYPD and FDNY, who make up most of the marchers in the nation's biggest parade of hate. The intention is clear—they're not just marching, they are the message. We can't make them not be bigots but we can invoke the law. It is illegal for them to march in their official capacity.”

“New York City is supposed to be a haven for all of us, with a human rights law to move us out of a long history of unequal treatment and abuses at the hands of police. But every year we see the sea of city uniforms marching on Fifth Avenue in a display of -- at best -- total disregard for a portion of the community. The bitter irony is that our government is working against gross anti-gay laws in Nigeria, Uganda, and elsewhere, and such bigotry at home shamefully undermines that work.”


UPDATED: LGBTQ and Allies Letter to Mayor on City Participation in Discriminatory Parades

Want to sign on yourself? Click here.
Contact: Emmaia Gelman (917) 517-3627, emmaia.gelman@gmail.com


Dear Mayor de Blasio:

More than twenty years ago, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization sought to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue and was excluded. In 1993, parade organizers used a court case to declare it a private, religious procession whose anti-gay message would be controverted by the presence of an identifiable Irish LGBTQ group—even though LGBTQ groups are welcome in St. Patrick’s Day parades all over Ireland.

From then on, City leaders supportive of LGBTQ rights and dignity have boycotted the parade. But the Police Commissioner and thousands of uniformed police, organized by their precincts, have marched every year in this explicitly anti-gay parade. Firefighters and other City personnel also march every year in their official capacity.

The organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade have established a constitutional right to their exclusionary religious procession, but the participation of police and firefighters is a clear violation of the City’s Human Rights Law, appended below.

The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people. It confirms the practice of the NYPD and FDNY at times of targeting certain communities for discrimination. What’s more, it betrays the current work of high level government agencies and human rights advocates working internationally against the current wave of extreme anti-LGBTQ legislation and discriminatory practices occurring in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and Russia.

Indeed, legal precedent on this matter, in Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143 (2d Cir. 2002), says: “The effectiveness of a city's police department depends importantly on the respect and trust of the community and on the perception in the community that it enforces the law fairly, even-handedly, and without bias. If the police department treats a segment of the population of any race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual preference, etc., with contempt, so that the particular minority comes to regard the police as oppressor rather than protector, respect for law enforcement is eroded and the ability of the police to do its work in that community is impaired.”

We are asking you to direct all City departments not to organize marchers for or allow personnel to participate in this anti-LGBTQ procession either in uniform or with any banner that identifies them with the City.

The 2014 St. Patrick's Day parade is approaching. We ask that you act immediately on this matter. We would be pleased to meet for further discussion on a timeline that addresses this year's march.


[Signatures as of 3/11/14. List in formation. Updates will be posted at http://irishqueers.blogspot.com/2014/02/deblasio-letter.html]


ACT UP/New York (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)

African Services Committee - Amanda Lugg, Director of Advocacy

Brooklyn Community Pride Center – Erin Drinkwater, Executive Director

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities

The Center for HIV Law and Policy - Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director

Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) Steering Committee

Gay City News

Gay USA TV program - Ann Northrop, Co-host

GRIOT Circle - Katherine Acey, Executive Director

The International Action Center - Teresa Gutierrez, Co-Director

Irish Queers - Gaby Cryan, Emmaia Gelman & John Francis Mulligan

Jay's House - Jay Toole, Executive Director and Founder

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice - Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice Campaign for Police Accountability - Marla Erlien, Claude Heffron, Maya Orli, Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky

Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club - Allen Roskoff, President

Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn - Michael Czaczkes, President

Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ) - Michael Mallon, President

Lesbian Herstory Archives

Metropolitan Community Church of NY - Rev. Pat Bumgardner

Milk Not Jails

National Lawyers Guild, NYC Chapter

New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth - Kate Barnhart, Director

New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) - Stephanie Hsu, Secretary

New York City Anti-Violence Project

New York City Dyke March Committee

North Star Fund - Hugh Hogan, Executive Director

Out-FM on WBAI-NY – John Riley and Naomi Brussell

Peoples Power Assembly - Imani Keith Henry, Organizer

Picture the Homeless

Queens Pride House - Pauline Park, President & Acting Executive Director


Queers Against Israeli Apartheid-NYC - Brad Taylor

Q-Wave - Alain Chan, Steering Committee member

Stonewall Democrats of New York City - Melissa Sklarz, President


WNYACT (Western New Yorkers Against Conversion Therapy)

City Officials and former City Officials

Hon. Letitia James, Public Advocate of the City of New York

Hon. Eric Adams, President, Borough of Brooklyn

Hon. Mark Green, former Public Advocate of the City of New York

Hon. Betsy Gotbaum, former Public Advocate of the City of New York

Hon. John Liu, former New York City Comptroller

Hon. Brad Hoylman, New York State Senator, 27th District, Manhattan

Hon. Corey Johnson, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Mark Levine, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Rosie Mendez, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Helen Rosenthal, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Ritchie Torres, New York City Council, Bronx

Hon. Ronnie Eldridge, former member, New York City Council

Hon. Herman “Denny” Farrell, New York State Assembly, Manhattan

Hon. Richard Gottfried, New York State Assembly, Manhattan

Hon. Keith Wright, New York State Assembly, Manhattan

Hon. Andy Humm, former New York City Human Rights Commissioner

Hon. Dr. Joyce Hunter, former New York City Human Rights Commissioner

Hon. James B. Levin, former New York City Human Rights Commissioner

Individuals (affiliations for identification purposes only)

Sammer Aboelela, Muslim community activist

Donna Aceto, activist, photographer and Gay City News freelancer

Curtis Arluck, Democratic District Leader, Morningside Heights

Nadia Awad

Mary C. Bakel, MSW, social activist

Sean Barry, Executive Director, VOCAL-NY

Mary E. Bartholomew, Esq., IPEC (Irish Parades Emergency Committee)

Hon. Marle Becker, NY County Democratic Committee

Jamie Bauer

Mark Black, veteran gay activist

Sandy Boyer, Irish community activist

Christopher Herman Brandt

Dwayne Brown, Executive Director, Jamaican Anti-homophobia Stand

Reginald T. Brown, M.Ed., Unity Fellowship of Christ Movement

Martha Burgess

Dennis Byrnes, Cranston, RI

Leslie Cagan, peace and justice organizer

Scott Caplan, Police Misconduct and Corruption Officer, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

George Carter, Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research

Sheri Clemons

Debra Cooper, Democratic State Committeeperson, Upper West Side

Peter Cramer

Michael Cunningham

Kara Davis, Queer activist

Brother Mark D’Alessio, SSF

Ann D’Ercole, Ph.D., Psychologist

Bill Dobbs, gay civil libertarian

Chelsea Dreher

Jack Drescher, MD, Clinical Professor, New York Medical College

Lisa Duggan, Professor, Dept of Social & Cultural Analysis, NYU

Hazel Dukes

Andrew El-Kadi

Hugh English

Lisa Fane

Brendan Fay, St. Pat’s for All, Founder and Co-Chair

Louis Flores, blogger

Jennifer Flynn, Managing Director, Health GAP

Richard Gamboa, artist/activist/academic

Robert Gangi, PROP (Police Reform Organizing Project)

Carl George

Kt Good

Ryan Green

Brother Mark Gregory, Society of St. Francis

Lisa Guido

Yvonne M. Harrison, Restoration Temple Ministries

Anthony Heilbut, author

Jenny Heinz

Ronald E. Hellman, MD, Director, LGBT Affirmative Program, South Beach Psychiatric Center

Geoffrey Hendricks, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University and former President of the Board of Visual AIDS

Tony Hoffmann, President, Village Independent Democrats

Douglas Jennings

Bishop Zachary Jones, Unity Fellowship of Christ Church

Jay Kallio, veteran LGBT activist

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, retired Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature, Queens College

Esther Kaplan

Ken Kidd, Queer Nation NY

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

SL Korn, Queer activist

Mark Landis, Democratic District Leader, 67th Assembly District, Part C

Rick Landman, veteran gay activist

Bob Lederer, member of WBAI Local Station Board; contributing producer, Out-FM on WBAI radio

Glen Leiner, veteran gay activist

Scott Long, human rights activist

Harris Lirtzman, veteran gay activist

Alan Timothy Lunceford, End AIDS Now

Revd. Dr. Bernárd J. Lynch, Chair of Camden London LGBTQ Forum, England

Ronald Madson and Richard Dietz, plaintiffs in suit that won domestic partner benefits for all City employees in Lesbian and Gay Teachers Association vs. The NYC Board of Education

Anne Maguire

Eli Mayer, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist

Malachy McCourt, Irish Pagan and author

David M. McDowell, MD (psychiatrist), Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Medical Center

David McReynolds, Socialist Workers Party

Mark Milano, ACT UP/NY

Patrick Moffitt

Megan Mulholland, Co-Director, QUEEROCRACY

Eileen Myles, poet

Kevin Noble, Irish community activist

Bernard O’Brien

Paul O’Dwyer

Edward Pass

Robert Pinter, Campaign to Stop the False Arrests

Jessica Rechtschaffer

Charles Rice-Gonzalez, author and co-founder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

Nelson Santos, Executive Director, Visual AIDS

Elizabeth Savicz, teacher

Nathan M. Schaefer, Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda

Paul Schindler, editor-in-chief of Gay City News, and Bert Vaccari

Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, City University of New York-College of Staten Island

Arthur Schwartz, Greenwich Village District Leader

Elaine Shulman, President, Ansonia Independent Democrats

Charles Silverstein, Ph.D., Former Director, Institute for Human Identity

Jo Anne Simon, NYS Democratic Committeewoman and District Leader, 52nd Assembly District, Brooklyn

Trish Spoto

Armanda Squadrilli

Sarinya Srisakul, NYC firefighter and President of United Women Firefights

Jessica Stern, Director, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Colm Tóibín, author

Michael Tikili, co-founder and board member QUEEROCRACY

Urvashi Vaid

Andy Velez

Thomas S. Verni (Ret. Detective), NYPD Community Affairs, Citywide LGBT Community Liaison 

Shep Wahnon, veteran gay activist

Dr. George Weinberg, psychotherapist, author of Society and the Healthy Homosexual (1972) identifying homophobia as social ill

Seth Weissman, Victory Fund Campaign Board Member

Robert West, President/Founder, Breaking Bread Under the Rainbow

Edmund White, writer

Sherry Wolf, associate editor, International Socialist Review

Maxine Wolfe, Professor Emerita, City University Graduate School and Coordinator Lesbian Herstory Archive

Ellen Zaltzberg, retired City worker

Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike, THAW, and under DADAnewyork

Legal (affiliations for identification purposes only)

Susan Abraham, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Beena Ahmad, Civil Rights Attorney

Bina Ahmad, Criminal Defense Attorney and National Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild

Afua Atta-Mensah, Attorney

Lee F. Bantle, Civil Rights Attorney

Melynda Barnhart, Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School

Fran Bress, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Ellen P. Chapnick, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives, Columbia Law School

Elena L. Cohen, President, National Lawyers Guild-New York City Chapter

Kathleen Conkey, Attorney

Pamela Edwards, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Hillary Exter, public interest lawyer

J. Todd Fernandez, Human Rights Attorney

Joan P. Gibbs, Esq., Civil Rights Attorney

Mercer Givhan, Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School

Julie Goldscheid, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Larry Grosberg, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Abdeen Jabara, former President, American Arab Antidiscrimination Committee

Ken Kimerling, Civil Rights Attorney

Alan Levine, Civil Rights Attorney

Arthur Leonard, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Richard A. Levy, Union and Civil Rights Attorney

Foster Maer, Civil Rights Attorney

Holly Maguigan, Professor of Law, NYU Law School

Carlin Meyer, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Benjamin Meyers, Attorney

James Meyerson, Civil Rights Attorney

Stephen A. Newman, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Gideon Oliver, Civil Rights Attorney

Edward Purcell, Distinguished Professor of Law, New York Law School

David Rankin, Civil Rights Attorney

Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights

Andrea Ritchie, Civil Rights Attorney

Allie Robbins, CUNY School of Law

Franklin Siegel, Civil Rights Attorney

Jane Marcia Spinak, Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia law School

Michael Steven Smith, Esq., Member, Board of Directors, Center for Constitutional Rights

Martin R. Stolar, Civil Rights Attorney

Richard Storrow, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Peter Strauss, Distinguished Adjunct Professor, New York Law School

Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, New York Law School and former President of the ACLU

Mark Taylor, Civil Rights Attorney

Susan Tipograph, Attorney

Bela August Walker, Associate Professor of Law, Roger Williams School of Law

Daniel Warshawsky, Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School

Rose M. Weber, Civil Rights Attorney

Melvin L. Wulf, former Legal Director, ACLU


Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York
Chapter 1 - Commission on Human Rights

§ 8-101 Policy. In the City of New York, with its great cosmopolitan population, there is no greater danger to the health, morals, safety and welfare of the city and its inhabitants than the existence of groups prejudiced against one another and antagonistic to each other because of their actual or perceived differences, including those based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, any lawful source of income, status as a victim of domestic violence or status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, lawful occupation, whether children are, may be or would be residing with a person or conviction or arrest record. The council hereby finds and declares that prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, and discrimination and disorder occasioned thereby threaten the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants and menace the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state. A city agency is hereby created with power to eliminate and prevent discrimination from playing any role in actions relating to employment, public accommodations and housing and other real estate, and to take other actions against prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination and bias-related violence or harassment as herein provided; and the commission established hereunder is hereby given general jurisdiction and power for such purposes.