With Gay Veterans Group Marching, Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade Rolls On

A group from OUTVETS marches in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston Sunday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
A group from OUTVETS marches in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston Sunday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Crowds lined the streets of Boston for the city's St. Patrick's Day parade Sunday, which went off amid high spirits and without a hitch after a dispute over whether a gay veterans group could march.

There was no shortage of green clothing, shamrock headbands and booze during the annual parade Sunday. Some parade-goers said they would have attended no matter the outcome of the dispute over the OUTVETS gay veterans group.

The South Boston Allied War Council previously had said the group OUTVETS would not be able to march in Sunday's parade because the group failed to comply with guidelines by carrying the rainbow banner last year.

The council also had said the group did not submit their application on time and therefore could not participate.

But the council reversed course this month after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh and other high-profile politicians condemned the decision.

In the end, about two dozen OUTVETS members were greeted by the raucous cheers of parade-goers Sunday.

OUTVETS founder Bryan Bishop said he was heartened by the crowd's response.

"You walk up and down this street and you see the rainbow flags everywhere in solidarity for inclusivity, for diversity and also to honor OUTVETS, so this is fantastic," Bishop said.

OUTVETS was first allowed to participate in the parade in 2015 after decades of resistance that had kept gays out of the procession.

"When we did this in 2015 we got a wonderful response in South Boston, but today goes beyond any expectation that we thought we would get," Bishop said.

Parade organizers say OUTVETS will now be able to permanently march in the annual event.

"All veterans, no matter who you are: you served this country, you deserve respect," Bishop said. "You deserve the honor that's befitting of someone who's raised their right hand to serve this country."

Meanwhile, members of the veterans group Veterans for Peace said they would gather along the parade route in silent protest because they again this year haven't been allowed to march.

With reporting by The Associated Press' Tracee M. Herbaugh and WBUR's David Tanklefsky and Bob Shaffer

This article was originally published on March 19, 2017.



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