Oh boy! Here we go again! Just when you think we’ve moved past this, controversy rears its ugly head when it comes to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie. OUTVETS posted on their Facebook page that the Allied War Veterans Council – the group that organizes the parade – voted to deny the LGBTQ veteran group entry into the parade. Two years ago both OUTVETS and Boston Pride were allowed to march and were for the first openly gay groups to march since the Supreme Court ruling more than 20 years ago.
Back in August, Chester Darling – an attorney for the Allied War Veterans Council filed an amended complaint on an earlier lawsuit alleging that Mayor Marty Walsh used threats and verbal bullying to pressure organizers into allowing LBGT veterans to march back in 2014.
Four members of the AWVC advocated for the group to march. Eddie Flynn – candidate for Boston City Council District 2, Dan MaGoon from Mass Fallen Heroes voted in support of OUTVETS and then resigned from his honorary position (see statement below.) “I am saddened and outraged that the Allied War Veterans Council has voted to turn back the clock on equality,” said Flynn via a statement. We couldn’t agree more. Flynn met with OUTVET late Wednesday afternoon and a new vote with the Allied War Veterans will take place on Friday. Chief Marshal Sponsors of the parade like Dedham Savings, Budweiser and Stop and Shop have threatened to pull their sponsorship until the parade is inclusive. So we shall see.
Honestly? It’s 2017, time to move past this….again!
Statement for Mayor Marty Walsh:
“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city,” Walsh said in a statement provided by a spokeswoman. “I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”
Statement from Senator Linda Dorcena Forry:
“I am deeply disappointed in the decision by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council to exclude OUTVETS in the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. For the last two years, I have had the honor of marching in an inclusive parade that has reflected the diversity of the brave men and women of our U.S. Armed Services. I ask the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council to return to the table, reverse their vote and invite OUTVETS to participate in the parade.”
Statement from Dan Magoon – Chief Marshal of South Boston Evacuation Day Parade:
To: South Boston Allied War Veterans Council
From: Daniel Magoon
Dear Council Members,
Due to the council vote 7MAR2017 by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council not allowing the Veterans group OutVets to participate in the 2017 South Boston Evacuation Day Parade, I have decided to step down as the 2017 Chief Marshal.
As a proud Veteran who advocates and works with Gold Star Families and Veterans through ought the Commonwealth on a daily basis, I cannot support the decision rendered by the Council body.
I have worked hard over the years to support returning Veterans and their families. We have fought battles across this City, State, and Country in regards to Veterans rights, benefits, employment, mental health, discriminatory practices, and many other significant areas important to our Veterans. To be a part a parade excluding OutVets does not coincide with the work I do advocating for all Veterans.
The severity that this decision weighs not only negatively impacts OutVets, but also the families of Veterans, thus creating a ripple effect across our community.
I wish the parade success. The freedoms that we possess to hold such an event is due to the men and women who have spilled their blood in defense to this great nation, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or who they share relations with.
If we are to honor that sacrifice, we should honor all who have raised their right hand to serve in our Armed Services.
As I stated at the Council vote on 7MAR2017, I share a difference of opinion on this vote and while I do respect the Council’s decision, I cannot support it as Chief Marshal.
My resignation is effective immediately.
Statement from the Perkins Post in Southie:
The Michael J. Perkins American Legion Post (the “Perkins Post”) has decided to withdraw from the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston (the “Council”). The membership of the Perkins Post, comprised of primarily of younger post-9/11 veterans, was encouraged to participate as the number of older veterans in the area dwindled. The Perkins Post happily assisted with fundraising and members have served in leadership positions within the Council. However, recent efforts by several non-veteran parade volunteers to guide decision making has resulted in the subversion of the Council as an organization being led by veterans (despite the name).The feeling that the Perkins Post has provided “veteran” group legitimacy, while increasingly being taken along for the ride as personal political axes are ground has led us to the decision that we need to distance ourselves from the Council and join several other South Boston veterans posts that have similarly withdrawn in the past year. Our parting request is that the Council consider amending the name of the group to remove references to being a veterans organization to prevent destroying the community goodwill that we and the other South Boston veterans posts have worked hard to achieve. We hope that all the issues surrounding the parade can be resolved in an amicable way so that the people of South Boston and beyond can enjoy a great parade and all the traditions associated with it.
The Perkins Post
Statement from Teamsters Local 25:
Today, Teamsters Local 25 is informing the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee, that we are no longer participating in this year’s parade unless OutVets is included in the line-up,” said O’Brien. “Our Women’s Committee has been proud to walk alongside our tractor trailer for the past several years, but if the organizers shut out certain organizations, the parade is no longer representative of the 11,000 members of Teamsters Local 25 and our families. I urge the committee to reconsider their decision to make the parade reflective of the city of Boston so that all can enjoy.
In addition to Stop and Shop, Dedham Savings and Budweiser, Mass Bay Credit Union released the following statement to pull sponsorship:
Mass Bay Credit Union is deeply disappointed in the decision made by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council to exclude the OUTVETS, a peaceful group who served our country in the armed services, from this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As long as this decision stands, we will withdraw our participation and reconsider any future sponsorship. Our cash donation and sponsorship was made weeks ago, assuming that this would be an inclusive community event and not a divisive grandstand statement. While we are hopeful this council will change its decision, as long as there exists this overtone of exclusion, we will not participate.