What's a Saint Patrick's Day parade in South Boston without a political controversy?

It seems as though there is always a controversy swirling around the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston.  The parade has been a staple since it's founding by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council well over a hundred years ago.   In a statement yesterday the Council says,  "Since it's founding in 1901 the parade has been a celebration of country, community and the catholic faith."  The Council says a "code of conduct" was established to "protect the theme and historic integrity" of the parade.

The challenge facing this year's parade organizers is whether to allow OUTVETS, an organization of gay veterans to display the Rainbow Coalition flag on it's parade banner.  It did so last year but the Council says it violates the established code of conduct which, according to the press release, prohibits "the advertisement or display of one's sexual orientation."  The release goes on to say, "The Council is accepting of all people and organizations, but it will not permit messages that conflict with the overall theme of the parade."  The statement continues, " Previous displays of the Rainbow Coalition flag have led to the loss of support from Catholic organizations that had been in the parade since the 1940's."

While the veterans certainly deserve the respect of all Americans and should be welcome to march in any parade on American soil, they don't have a right to push a political agenda outside the rules of the parade's code of conduct.  The sexuality of the parade participants is not the business of the organizers and that's not the issue here anyway.  Governor Baker says he may not march in this year's parade unless OUTVETS can carry the Rainbow Coalition banner.  The Governor is wrong to disrespect the War Veterans Council and all who wish to view the parade without being pounded with political messaging.

Support our vets, gay and straight but lets leave the politics on the sidewalk for once.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
(Additional source information provided by the New Boston Post)

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