De Blasio Won’t March in St. Patrick’s Day Parade Despite Policy Shift


Mayor de Blasio confirmed Monday that he would not be marching in New York City's main St. Patrick's Day Parade, despite organizers' decision to allow a single gay group to march.

Last year, the mayor also skipped the event, saying he disagreed with organizers' policy of banning gay groups from marching under their own banners. A few weeks ago, he marched in the St. Pat's for All parade in Queens, an inclusive event.

This year, organizers have said they have dropped the ban, and announced plans for OUT@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee resource group at the company that broadcasts Tuesday's parade, to march. Other gay groups can apply to march in future years, spokesman Bill O'Reilly has said.

WATCH LIVE: The 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade

But some gay activists have called it a token gesture. The group Irish Queers has argued that OUT@NBCUniversal members should not march until the parade is opened up more broadly to gay organizations.

The chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal called the inclusion of the group a "historic point."

"We approach the opportunity with respect for the event's heritage, culture and tradition, as well as hope and excitement for this first step towards an increasingly inclusive era for the Parade," Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal, said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, the Catholic League has also said it will sit out this year's march up Fifth Avenue because event organizers aren't letting an anti-abortion group march.

Organizers had been facing increasing pressure to change their policy as acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has become more widespread. Last year, the makers of Guinness, the popular Irish beer, announced they had withdrawn sponsorship of the event, citing its "policy of exclusion."

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