It’s the one day of the year that it is okay to be decked out in all green to celebrate your inner Irish pride, and New York City is the place to be to broadcast your Kiss me I’m Irish pins or shamrock attire for the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. No matter what your cultural background is everyone comes together in celebration of the Irish holiday, and one such form of celebration is communing to the city’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade. However, not everyone will be participating in the parade…like our Mayor Bill De Blasio.
For the first time in nearly 20 years the Mayor of New York City will not be participating in the march down Fifth Avenue and opting out of taking part in the parade. Unlike his predecessors, Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani, the decision not to walk in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a tradition in itself for Mayor De Blasio who has not walked in the march since his days as a public official.
“I haven’t in the past in my capacity as a public official… I simply disagree with the organizer of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in the city,” explained, Mayor De Blasio choosing to abide to his values he held before taking on the position as Mayor.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city,” added the Mayor, ensuring the public that he will be celebrating the day in other activities beside the parade itself.
Prior to De Blasio’s decision not to march, former-Mayor David Dinkins didn’t march in the parade back in 1993. Dinkins refused to march after organizers of the parade won a court case which allowed them to disallow gay Irish Americans or disallow marchers from acknowledging their gay identity during the parade.
While a supporting Mayor of the gay community in New York City and of marriage equality, former-Mayor Michael Bloomberg marched in the parade during the twelve years he was in office. However, his Council Speaker Christine Quinn chose not to march because she is a gay Irish American.
So far De Blasio’s decision hasn’t drawn any criticism, sort of.
William Donohue, the President of New York City’s Catholic League, commented on the decision stating, “Personally, I am delighted” and that he leads “the Catholic League contingent every year, and I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics.”
While De Blasio’s stance is in support of the gay community in New York City and keeps him from marching, he is not preventing others from marching in parade if they want to.
In response to banning of gays being able to acknowledge who they are in the parade some LGBTQ organizations and Public Advocate Letitia James and other officials have signed a petition requesting that Mayor De Blasio ban uniformed police and firefighters from marching.
The request is based upon two factors: the first being that it sends a message that the men and women who are charged with protecting New Yorkers may not feel the same about the city’s Gay community, and the second is that members of the LGBT community feel that since they cannot publicly display anything that would promote their community it should adhere to other marchers as well.
“I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to. And I respect that right,” said De Blasio, disagreeing with the request to ban uniformed police officers and firefighters from the parade.
De Blasio’s position to not attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is slightly reminiscent to President Barack Obama’s who refused to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics held at Sochi, Russia. With the escalating political climate in Russia condemning its gay citizens, President Obama decided not to attend the games on behalf of America but will send a group of Olympic athlete dignitaries—who happen to be game—in his place.
Like President Obama, Mayor De Blasio is merely standing up for what he feels is politically right as to what is politically expected of him as a person in power. De Blasio’s move is rare and risky since he is taking a stand for something that represents an idea that may draw a large backlash later on.
We will have to wait and see what will come.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade consists of an estimated 200,000 participants who march in the parade itself which draws an audience of more than 1 million onlookers. You can expect to see Irish traditional dancers, bands, and thousands of representatives of Irish civilians along with uniformed police officers, fire, and so on marching down Fifth Avenue come March 17.