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Organizers of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Lift Ban on LGBT Groups

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Pressure from the Mayor and NBCUniversal influenced their decision.

Photo Getty

The Irish Voice announced today that the two-decade-long ban on gay groups participating in the St. Patrick's Day parade has been lifted and that a gay organization, OUT@NBCUniversal, will march in the 2015 parade. For the first time, an LGBT organization can march under its own banner. In the past, queers could march in the parade, but couldn't carry anything identifying them as a group.

The decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal--an employee resource group of LGBT & straight ally employees at NBCUniversal--to participate in the march came as NBC, the long-time broadcaster of the parade, was prepared to drop its coverage. As the New York Times noted, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan released a statement saying the parade organizers have his "confidence and support."

"My predecessors and I have always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades," he said. "As I do each year, I look forward to celebrating Mass in honor of Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and the Patron Saint of this Archdiocese, to begin the feast, and pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us."

Mayor de Blasio's boycott of last year's parade and Guinness' dropping its sponsorship also played into the decision. According to the Post, Guinness also helped to broker the deal that brought OUT@NBCUniversal into the march.

Though the parade has been around since 1762, it wasn't until the early 90s, when the HIV/AIDS crisis was in full swing, that LGBT groups wanted to march in the parade under their own banners.

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Alex Panisch