New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday, February 4, that he will not be attending Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March. The 52-year-old Democrat said his decision is based on parade organizers’ disapproval of gay and lesbian lifestyles and their unwillingness to embrace LGBT pride. He will be the first mayor to be absent from the event in over twenty years.
“I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” de Blasio said during a news conference at City Hall.
The parade, an annual momentous event both for Irish-American groups and people of all backgrounds alike, has long been a sticky situation for many other politicians due to its barring of public displays of LGBT pride.
De Blasio, who is of German and Italian ancestry, added that he will participate in other events on St. Patrick’s Day in order “to honor the Irish heritage of this city and the contributions of Irish-Americans.”
The last New York City mayor to boycott the parade was David N. Dinkins, in 1993. He declined to participate for similar reasons, after sponsors were victorious in a court case that banned openly gay Irish-Americans from partaking in the parade.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic league in New York, said in a statement that he is “delighted” not to have to march beside “a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics.”
The condemnation for de Blasio’s decision doesn’t end with the religious and conservative. Some of his own allies on the left are also depraving his choice, arguing that he should instead reproach parade organizers. Others, including public advocate Letitia James, advise that de Blasio restrict firefighters, police officers, and other public workers from wearing formal city uniforms while marching in the parade. However, the mayor promptly shot down the suggestion.
“Uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right,” said de Blasio.
William Cunningham, a former communications director for former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said he’s more concerned with the manner in which de Blasio will be celebrating Irish heritage. Recently, de Blasio was criticized after he was spotted eating pizza with a fork.
“The real question,” said Cunningham, “is will he drink his Guinness through a straw, or with a spoon?”