US: Boston gay veterans continue to be banned from marching in St Patrick’s Day parade

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Gay rights advocates in the US state of Massachusetts have announced that no deal has been made to allow gay veterans to march in this weekend’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Boston.

The announcement comes just over a week after it appeared that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh had arranged a deal between the Allied War Veteran’s Council, which runs the parade, and MassEquality, which was advocating for gay veterans to be allowed to join in.

Today, Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality, said: “We are not marching. It’s not happening… The parade is every bit as exclusionary this year as it was 20 years ago.”

Following the meeting between the two groups last week, the Council released the following statement.

“At a closed door City Hall meeting last night it was made clear to us that the LGBT Veterans for Equality do not have 20 United States Veterans who wish to march. Rather, they presented only one supposed Veteran and a group of others carrying rainbow flags. When asked about a Color Guard, their loan Veteran replied that he wasn’t sure he could supply any more Veterans willing to march. It is our intention to keep this parade a family friendly event. We will not allow any group to damage the Integrity of the historic event or our reputation as a safe and fun filled day for all.”

Over a dozen military and reserves veterans issued a statement today refuting the claims by the Council’s statement.

The statement read: “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

“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,” they wrote. “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.”

The letter included John Affuso, 1st Lieutenant, United States Army Reserve/Army National Guard; Peter K. Bennett Jr., Captain, United States Army;
and Hope Watt-Bucci, 1st Lieutenant, United States Army.

Mayor Martin Walsh made the announcement several weeks ago, that he intends to boycott the parade, should the veterans be excluded from marching.