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Boston Mayor Boycotts St. Patrick's Day Parade After It Axes Gay Vets

Marty Walsh

"I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form," said Marty Walsh after the group OutVets wasn't allowed to participate.

The mayor of Boston will not march in a St. Patrick's Day parade that excludes LGBT people.

"I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form," Marty Walsh said in a statement after OutVets, a group of gay veterans, was denied the opportunity to participate this year. "We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city."

OutVets, which marched the past two years in the parade, announced its application had been rejected by the South Boston Allied War Council, which organizes the 116-year-old event.

The council, citing conflict with the Catholic Church, has banned OutVets and other LGBT groups in years past. In 1995, it even defended and won its right to exclude them in a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision.

"We just received word from them South Boston Allied War Veterans that OUTVETS has been denied entry into the 2017 South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade," the group stated Tuesday on Facebook.

"The Council did not give a clear reason, but, given the tenor of the Council's deliberations, one can assume it's because we are LGBTQ. This is a sad day for the LGBTQ community and for veterans of all backgrounds," the group added.

The South Boston Allied War Council has yet to comment, so it has yet to be determined if the current debates over so-called "religious freedom," which has been supported by the Trump administration, played a hand in the decision.

In addition to Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said said they would be unlikely to participate, reports The Boston Globe.

"That word veteran, to me, approaches 'holy,' and the idea that we would restrict the opportunity for men and women who put on that uniform, who know full well they could put themselves in harm's way, and deny them an opportunity to march in the parade that's about celebrating veterans doesn't make any sense to me," Baker said.

The event, held March 17, is one of the country's largest celebrations of Irish heritage. Another major celebration, the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York, lifted its long-standing ban on LGBT marchers last year.

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