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The New York Times
Unable to Reach an Accord, Quinn to Boycott the Parade
By WINNIE HU
Published: March 17, 2006
The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, will not be marching today in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue despite efforts by her aides and supporters to reach a compromise with parade organizers.
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
Christine C. Quinn, City Council speaker, Thursday at City Hall.
Ms. Quinn, who is a lesbian, had sought to wear a symbol like a gay-pride pin, button or sash while marching alongside council members and gay supporters. But she said yesterday that those efforts had failed.
Ms. Quinn's decision came as John Dunleavy, the parade chairman, touched off a new controversy by comparing Irish gay activists to neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. In an interview yesterday in The Irish Times, Mr. Dunleavy was quoted as saying, "If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow neo-Nazis into their parade? If African-Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?"
Ms. Quinn, when asked by reporters about Mr. Dunleavy's comments, said they were "so outrageous I don't even think they dignify a response."
She said she had hoped to reach a middle ground, in which gay men and lesbians could take part in a "respectful and dignified fashion that allowed them to be visible."
"I'm sad that we were not able to come to some place of commonality that could start a healing process as it relates to the parade," Ms. Quinn said. "You know, that said, I remain hopeful that in the near future we will find that day."
In a brief phone conversation, Mr. Dunleavy said he would not change the rules for Ms. Quinn. The parade traditionally prohibits most personal and political displays, including banners and T-shirt slogans.
"She is more than welcome to march as the leader of the City Council, but no buttons or decorations in any shape or form," he said.
Mr. Dunleavy added that Irish-Americans take part in the parade mainly to honor their heritage, not their "lifestyle." He said that if he were to allow buttons or pins to be worn this year, T-shirts or banners could be next. "I'm the chairman of the parade, and nobody's worked out a compromise with me," he said. "What's there to compromise?"
For 15 years, the parade committee has refused to allow gay people of Irish descent to march as an identifiable group, fending off legal challenges and protests from gay rights groups. Parade officials have contended that the festivities are private and deeply Roman Catholic and that homosexuality is contrary to church doctrine.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that while he disagreed with the parade organizers, they had the right to decide whom to allow in the parade. The mayor said he would march in the parade, as he has done in previous years.
"I've always believed this is a city where all of the parades should be open to everybody," the mayor said. "Orientation, gender, or whether you're an elected official or not, should not be the deciding thing."
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is also expected to march in the parade, but other prominent Democrats, including State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who is running for governor, will not. Ms. Quinn's predecessor, Gifford Miller, boycotted the parade when he was speaker.
After being elected speaker, Ms. Quinn said, she asked Irish-American leaders to lobby the parade organizers on her behalf. "There were conversations back and forth, there were moments when I was hopeful that we could have come to some agreement, but that didn't happen," she said.
Maura Keaney, the speaker's deputy chief of staff, said that Ms. Quinn tried to reach out to Mr. Dunleavy this week, but that he did not return her call.
Gays, including NYC Council head, won't march in St. Pat's parade
By LARRY McSHANE
Associated Press Writer
March 16, 2006, 5:00 PM EST
NEW YORK -- The city's first openly gay City Council leader announced Thursday that she would boycott the St. Patrick's Day parade after organizers rejected compromise attempts and barred Irish gays and lesbians from joining the festivities for a 16th straight year.
"I can't deny who I am on any given day," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was arrested in 1999 for protesting at an exclusionary parade in the Bronx.
She said she will attend several pre-parade breakfasts, along with Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, but will not join the 150,000 marchers Friday on Fifth Avenue.
Quinn, who took office in January, said attempts at brokering a deal with the Ancient Order of Hibernians for the 245th parade fell through. The city's Irish gays had long hoped to march behind their own banner, like other groups, although Quinn said they were willing to walk with the City Council as a unified group.
"There were conversations back and forth," Quinn said. "There were moments where I was hopeful that we could have come to some agreement. But that didn't happen."
The decision came as no surprise to gay activist Brendan Fay, who spent the past 16 years in the thick of the fight to march _ and then each subsequent March 17 watching the nation's oldest and largest parade from the sidewalk.
"You know the song: `When Irish eyes are smiling, all the world seems bright and gay,"' Fay said. "Well, not on Fifth Avenue."
The fight to let Irish gays march under their own banner dates to 1991, when parade organizers first rejected an application from the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization. The organizers said they wanted to keep politics out of the event.
Instead, 35 ILGO members marched with a Manhattan division of the Hibernians and then-Mayor David Dinkins. The group was sprayed with beer and insults as it walked up Fifth Avenue. That was its last appearance in the parade.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will march Friday, again urged the Hibernians to change their stance on letting the gay contingent in.
"I've always believed this is a city where all the parades should be open to everybody, and orientation, gender ... should not be the deciding thing," Bloomberg said.
The mayor marched earlier this month in the inclusive Queens St. Patrick's Day parade, which was launched by Fay in 2006.
Calls to the office of the Manhattan parade committee were not returned on Thursday as final preparations were made for the parade, which draws up to 2 million spectators.
Besides the Irish gays, the organizers barred another advocacy group from marching this year: the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which lobbies on behalf of undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S.
Fay said the seemingly endless battle for inclusion gets exasperating: "I sometimes joke there will be a peace brokered on the streets of Belfast faster than between the Irish on Fifth Avenue."
But Quinn said she was optimistic for the 2007 parade. "I've only been speaker for 10 weeks," she said, "so now we have 12 months to try to figure this out."
Gays Sidelined At NYC St Pat's Parade
by Beth Shapiro, 365Gay.com New York Bureau
March 16, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET
(New York City) There will be no pink shamrocks again this year at New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization remain barred from taking part in the annual parade down Fifth Avenue.
As in past years gays will be relegated to a barricaded area along the route where will be allowed to protest against the Ancient Order of Hibernians which organizes the parade.
More than a decade ago a federal judge ruled that the organization could bar the gay group on the grounds of religious freedom.
The organization has been told the ILGO that its members could march as individuals but not under the gay banner.
Last year some of the protestors chanted "We're here, we're queer, we'll be here every year," as the parade marched by.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is refusing to march in this year's parade. Quinn who is a lesbian and the second highest ranking city official, said she had considered marching this year, if she could do so openly.
The Order of Hibernians said no.
Also missing, for the second year in a row will be gubernatorial front-runner Eliot Spitzer. The Democratic attorney general, will attend a special mass, however, at St. Patrick's Cathedral for Mass.
His office said Spitzer won't be at the parade because he has a prior commitment in Buffalo. Irish groups have criticized his decision but it was welcomed by LGBT rights groups.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is running for reelection this year, will be marching. Clinton came under fire last month from the head of the state's largest LGBT civil rights organization.
Alan Van Capelle, Pride Agenda's executive director in a confidential memo to the group's board members, called for an end to financial support of Clinton's re-election campaign because of her refusal to support same-sex marriage. (story)
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