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Irish Pres. Picks Gay Rights Over Parade

Irish Pres. Picks Gay Rights Over Parade

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Irish president Mary McAleese turned down an offer to head the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade because of its history of shutting out gay Irish participants.

According to Irish Central, McAleese wanted to march in the gay-inclusive St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens a week before heading up the major parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a tactic many politicians use to avoid seeming as though they endorse the exclusion of gay people from the bigger parade in Manhattan. However, McAleese's schedule would not allow her to stay in New York for both parades.

Since taking office, McAleese has gone from Catholic conservative to gay rights advocate, and, one official said, participating in the Fifth Avenue parade "with gay groups protesting her presence is not what her legacy is all about."

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