After first suggesting that he could live with the decision of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers and grand marshal Cardinal Timothy Dolan to invite a single gay group to march under their own banner, Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, started wobbling and expressing some concern about it, especially his belief that gays seem to have some sort of no-pants dress code. He and has finally decided to withdraw his group from the parade altogether.
Meanwhile it is becoming increasingly clear that the decision to allow the gay group to take part has less to do with a change of heart on LGBT rights than the usual driving factor in such big events – money.
The parade repeatedly refused to lift its ban in recent years, even as New York legalized same-sex marriage. A report in the Irish Voice newspaper last week also contended that NBC, which has broadcast the parade since 1990, was preparing to drop its coverage of the event and several other corporate sponsors were likely to back out if the ban on gay marchers was not erased.
This was in addition to the boycott last year by Guinness, Samuel Adams, and Heineken. Apparently another big sponsor the Ford Motor Company was also hinting that it might drop its support unless some compromise was arrived at. It is clear that the organizers hoped that including just one gay group would satisfy its critics while the fact that these parade members would be employees of NBC would mean that their behavior could be carefully prescribed and thus avoid any acts that would inflame any anti-gay parade watchers.
I don’t know if that will work though. Even if the gay group does nothing more than have a banner with their name, some people are going to be nasty, especially given the drunkenness that characterizes the occasion. Let’s see how it goes.