NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Staten Island is full of pride.
But people who represent gay pride are being told they can’t participate.
At least two groups that tried to register told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner on Wednesday they weren’t even allowed to fill out an application.
Irish flags and bagpipes are a signature part of the annual parade. But Carol Bullock, director of the Pride Center of Staten Island, said her group’s banner is not welcome, and neither is one from the Gay Officers Action League of New York, or GOAL.
Both groups tried to sign up this past weekend to march, but when they showed up, “We were asked if our organization had anything to do with sexual identity. We said yes and we were told that this is not a parade for sexual identification,” Bullock said. “We provide services all over this island.”
The parade is organized by Larry Cummings, who heads the Parade Committee of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. Bullock said this weekend and in the past he has said letting the groups march, “promotes the homosexual lifestyle” and “goes against the tenets of the Catholic Church.”
Brian Downey is executive director of GOAL. He’s also Catholic.
“LGBT people are welcome to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Ireland. I think it’s kind of a step backwards for our city,” Downey said.
So now the Pride Center is encouraging supporters to frequent the stores and restaurants along the parade route, but not actually march in it.
Some businesses along Forest Avenue in West Brighton have posted signs reading, “I stand for inclusion.”
Rozner tried to speak with Cummings at his home, but was told he wasn’t around. Cummings’ son said the father of six is a former FDNY firefighter and 9/11 first responder battling health issues from ground zero, and now he has been getting death threats. The groups said they just want to meet, even over a pint, and see each other as human beings who want to celebrate Irish heritage.
Some city politicians have now decided to skip the parade. The Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade started welcoming gay advocates to march five years ago.