Boston: Major Beer Sponsor Pulls Out of St. Pat's Parade

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com March 14 2014 12:34 PM ET

Boston Beer, the company that owns Sam Adams beer, has pulled its sponsorship of the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, due to its recent entanglement with LGBT people who wanted to participate.

In an announcement Thursday, the company stated that it would continue to support numerous local based charities and causes, including LGBT organizations to which it already contributes.

"That being said, our namesake, Samuel Adams, was a staunch defender of free speech and we support that ideal, so we take feedback very seriously," the company said in a statement. "The majority of our commitments are year-to-year, and we will continue to evaluate each organization and event before making additional contributions."

Earlier this month, talks between the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston and MassEquality broke down over whether the parade would include openly LGBT veterans. Organizers for the parade, which is intended to honor veterans, initially said LGBT veterans would be allowed to march in the annual tradition, after years of LGBT participants being shut out due to a "no sexual orientation rule." However, the question of whether participants could display signs or shirts that identified them as LGBT was a major sticking point.

Then, days later, officials with the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the parade, said they were misled by LGBT Veterans of Equality, which is a subgroup of MassEquality. Parade organizers claimed that MassEquality misrepresented the number of actual LGBT veterans participating, so they could not take part in the event.

Kara Coredini of MassEquality said her organization had in fact worked with numerous veterans to end the military's ban on openly gay service members, "and those same veterans would have been proud to represent the end of the parade’s 'don’t ask, don’t tell' policy."

"We know from experience that change comes through conversation and dialogue," Coredini said. "We were encouraged to have an historic opportunity to meet face-to-face with parade organizers to discuss a contingent involving LGBT veterans, and we did so with open hearts and open minds."