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NYC Council Follows Mayor’s Lead, Steps Away From St. Patrick’s Parade

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the council won’t have an official presence at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves while marching.

The announcement was made Tuesday.

Mark-Viverito said the council is “committed to celebrating and respecting the diversity” of the city.

Parade organizers don’t allow participants to carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as LGBT. An email to the parade’s executive secretary seeking comment was not answered, however the Catholic League denounced the decision.

“When a government agent prohibits the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, a tradition that has been honored for hundreds of years, it is an obscene exercise in censorship,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue said.

Mark-Viverito said individual council members can take part if they want to.

“Now if individual council members choose to march individually, they can do that. But, we as a City Council will not take an active presence,” Mark-Viverito told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

The council speaker said the vast majority of the council agrees that the deliberate exclusion of members of the LGBT community is unacceptable, Rincon reported.

“This is a parade that is closing off public streets. Public resources are being used. And so for them to opt to purposefully exclude members of our community from marching openly is something that should not be accepted,” Mark-Viverito told WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that he wouldn’t march in the parade. He’ll be the first mayor in decades to not take part in the annual march on Fifth Avenue.

“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city and the contributions of Irish Americans, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” he said.

De Blasio also did not march while he was public advocate.

The parade is a tradition that predates the city itself. Organizers predict more than 1 million people will attend on March 17.

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