Marty Walsh yielded Sunday in his ongoing effort to try and bring an end to the ban of open homosexual veteran participation in Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Throughout the eventual defeat, the enthusiasm of the recently elected mayor’s work ethic was on display for the public. With Massachusetts in 2003 becoming the first state to enact same-sex marriages, public conscience and tolerance for the institution and practice of gay rights is at an all-time high.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have since brought about legislation to allow gay couples to be officially recognized as a married couple within their borders. This trend has inspired accepted participation of gays at various levels in and around respective communities. In Boston, First Amendment rights were left at an impasse, at least for the gay community, with its constricted potential for a public display of sexual orientation from gay veterans. Mayor Walsh took it into his own hands to oppose the stance of the Allied War Veterans Council, which, over the years, has upheld for the marshals and organizers the ban on gays from “coming out” during the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. MassEquality, an activist group founded in the state, has for years been trying to allow the participation of gays in the parade. For years, they have been denied. However, they have announced publicly their pleasure with the new mayor’s intervention with the parade.
This year, as it pertains to the city’s annual parade, things seem to be slowly shifting. One of the largest public examples of solidarity between Walsh and the gay community has come from a popular brewmaker of Samuel Adams beer. Along with Heineken, Boston Brewery announced its rescinding of sponsorship from the public parade. In similar tradition, New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio made public his absence from his own city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, set to take place Monday. Both beer companies chose not to participate in either of these parades.
Walsh attempted to broker these discussions even as they had reached a decline, when the Allied War Veterans Council turned away from an effort to consummate a deal with MassEquality. Seeking to display homosexual veterans under three separate flags, American, Irish and the rainbow, there was no final solution between the two groups. Chief Marshal of the Boston parade, Brian Mahoney, refused to back down in what was representative of his own views on how the parade should continue to operate. Without a complete compromise between the two parties, homosexual veterans were only allowed a small role in the holiday spectacle.
In the early stages of his mayoral career, Walsh briefly made headlines. Boston’s newest public servant brought the issues of gay rights into the public discourse. Regardless of his yielding to the council while they cling to the homosexual ban in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, his job still remains at the helm, directing and strengthening his democratic constituents through his position as mayor of the city of Boston. He has since replaced the respected Thomas M. Menino who, just months after his term as mayor had ended, is currently battling the early stages of advanced cancer.
By Bryan William Myers