Boston Beer Company, the company that brews Sam Adams beer, is pulling it support from the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston because the organizers will not allow a group of gay veterans to march in Sunday’s parade.
Talks between the parade’s organizers, The South Boston Allied War Veterans, and MassEquality, a Massachusetts gay rights group, ended after the two groups failed to agree on a deal that would allow the gay veterans to march. “We won’t be there,” said Mass Equality executive director Kara S. Coredini.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh supported the efforts of MassEquality to get a place in the parade. Mayor Walsh tried to broker a deal on Thursday, but failed again.
The beer company and parade organizers had been negotiating to resolve this dispute but a statement released by the beer company on Friday suggests indicates that the state of negotiations makes it unlikely an agreement can be reached that would allow all interested groups to participate.
Sam Adams had been under pressure before entering into negotiations with parade organizers. Café Club Café, one of Boston’s largest gay establishments, posted a letter to its Facebook page stating it would stop offering Sam Adams products until either Sam Adams changed its mind about participating, or the organizers changed their policy. Club Café is a popular South End restaurant.
According to a report in The Huffington Post, other gay establishments may have made similar moves in support of the veterans group. It is not clear on Friday if those actions had any effect, but Sam Adams did drop its support.
After the announcement, The Club Cafe announced that it would resume offering Sam Adams products after the company dropped its support for the parade.
The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council made a statement on its Website to explain that the group is not opposed to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people; it just doesn’t allow sexual orientation to be displayed in the parade. The Council also stated that gays and lesbians could march with other groups but could not display anything that identified them as gay.
The gay veterans’ group announced on Thursday that it will not be marching on Sunday. This announcement came in spite of a possibility that organizers might change their minds and allow gay groups to march, according to a report published Friday in The Huffington Post.
This is not the first time LGBT rights have become an issue in planning St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Some groups have tried to march before. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh have previously threatened to boycott the parades in their cities over exclusion of LBGT groups.
Sam Adams has supported the parade for over a decade, and has said it will continue to support the event’s breakfast, another important tradition in America’s most Irish city. In a related development, Heineken cited concerns over LGBT rights in withdrawing support from the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Monday.
The loss of support by Sam Adams for the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade is more of a statement that a real blow to the parade festivities.
By Chester Davis