Boston Mayor won’t give up on fight against gay veteran ban for St Patrick’s Day parade

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The Mayor of Boston has vowed to continue to not give up in a fight to allow gay veterans to march in this weekend’s St Patrick’s Day parade, but reiterated a promise to boycott, if they are not.

Martin Walsh on Wednesday told the Boston Herald, that he intended to use the remaining days before this weekend’s celebrations to continue to fight for gay veterans to be allowed a place in the parade.

He said: “I don’t give up. I am going to continue to try. We’ve got a few more days. The thing is, we were very close. … I am going to try and do one more shot at this.”A

Also reiterating that he would boycott the parade should negotiations fail, in a not insignificant move for Boston’s Mayor.

He said: “If it fails, I will not be marching. I think there has been some miscommunication on both sides and I was hoping that as cooler heads prevailed we would be able to come to a compromise. As of right now, we are not there yet, but we still have a few more days. Never say die.”

Yesterday it appeared that the gay veterans had accepted defeat, as, 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 Allied War Veterans Council, which manages the parade, 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 yesterday 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.

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