To keep you up to speed in the almost 20 year battle between parade organizers – The Allied War Veterans and MassEquality – a statewide gay rights advocacy group, here’s the latest update. Discussions with Allied War Veterans, Mass Equality and Mayor Marty Walsh to come to some sort of compromise seemed to be at an abrupt stand still last week.
According to the Allied War Veterans press release, MassEquality is up to some good old fashioned shenanigans when it comes to their application and the group LGBT Veterans for Equality – a group of 20 gay veterans. “The Council performs background checks on groups wishing to march prior to their acceptance. We were unable to find any evidence of LGBT Veterans for Equality that would confirm them as a recognized Veterans Organization.”
MassEquality stated, that’s news to them, via press release. They thought they were making strides towards a positive outcome for both sides. “We were under the impression that negotiations were positive and ongoing, and we were surprised by the abrupt and hostile tone of the Parade organizers’ rejection. We know from experience that change comes through conversation and dialogue. We were encouraged to have an historic opportunity to meet face-to-face with Parade organizers to discuss a contingent involving LGBT veterans, and we did so with open hearts and open minds. We regret that the Parade organizers shut down conversation before an agreement could be finalized.”
Mayor Marty Walsh, still keeping a positive outlook, believes that the two groups can come to some sort of agreement by the parade on Sunday, March 16th. He is optimistically hopeful but time’s a tickin’. Congressman Lynch said last week he would most likely not march if LBGTQ veterans are not being treated fairly.
All has been quiet until this letter was published Wednesday in the New England LGBT publication The Rainbow Times website:
“We, the undersigned, are some of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans associated with MassEquality who would have marched in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade had parade organizers allowed us to march openly.
We write first and foremost, to reject allegations made by the Allied War Veterans Council that we do not exist. We are well known in our Massachusetts communities. We are active duty, reserve and National Guard veterans, disabled American veterans, American Legion Post past commanders, past district officers, town and city officials, family members, friends, sons and daughters, co-workers and neighbors. We have served our country with distinction defending our Constitution in our United States military service uniforms. We would be proud and honored to stand beside our fellow veterans, march and celebrate the service and sacrifice of all of our veteran brothers and sisters in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In 2010, the United States Congress repealed the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, finally allowing lesbian, gay and bisexual service members to serve this country openly and with pride. We sought only to march with integrity behind the colors that represent our multi-faceted identities as veterans, LGBT people and, for some of us, as Irish-Americans. But we fought too long and too hard to be able to serve our country openly to retreat back into the closet in order to march in a parade. As we have stood shoulder to shoulder, in war and in peace, we would stand together again marching as a symbol of the freedom that we offered our lives for, a freedom for all people, of all colors, creeds, origins, sexual orientations and gender identities. A legion of people that served and who ask nothing more than to stand beside our brothers and sisters, to march openly and proudly in honor and in duty in the uniform that represents the freedom afforded all citizens of the United States.
We are quite disappointed that the Allied War Veterans Council will not let us fly our colors as we march. More importantly, however, we respectfully request that they cease to allege that we do not exist, that we are “supposed” veterans and that we never intended to march.
John Affuso, 1st Lieutenant, United States Army Reserve/Army National Guard
Peter K. Bennett Jr., Captain, United States Army
Daniel Butler, Radioman-Petty Officer 1st Class (E6), United States Navy
Robert H. Cory III, Master Sergeant, United States Air Force/Air National Guard
Adam Harmon, Captain, United States Army
Travis Hengen, Chief Warrant Officer 2, United States Army
John F. Kelly, Airman 2nd Class, United States Air Force
Neil MacInnes-Barker, Sergeant Commander, United States Air Force
Emily Miller, Captain, United States Army
Reverend Father Alex Oneto, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class, United States Navy Reserve
Melissa Ann Seidenberg, Culinary Specialist SA, United States Navy
Hope Watt-Bucci, 1st Lieutenant, United States Army”
So now what? Seems like now the ball is in the Allied War Veterans court.
Image: Boston Globe