A Gay Veterans Group Was Shut out of a Huge Celebration and People Are Furious

March 8th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A gay veterans organization can't participate in a major celebration and it's causing a huge controversy. 

Outvets, an organization dedicated to honoring LGBTQ veterans, said the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council denied it permission to participate in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston this year, an infamous celebration of Irish-American heritage.

In a 9-4 vote, the council decided that it could not participate. No reason was given. 

Outvet alleged in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the council's decision was discriminatory.

"The Council did not give a clear reason, but, given the tenor of the Council's deliberations, one can assume it's because we are LGBTQ," the post states. "This is a sad day for the LGBTQ community and for veterans of all backgrounds."


The post alleges that anti-LGBT voices influenced the council to deny the group permission. After a fiery debate, the council decided two years ago to allow gay groups into the parade.

"With the passing of former South Boston Allied War Veterans Council Commander Brian Mahoney, who stood up for OUTVETS as fellow veterans after his own difficult and sincere soul-searching, our strongest ally among parade organizers is gone," the post states. "The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council wilted. It failed to stand its ground against reinvigorated voices of spite, exclusion, and disrespect." 

Backlash from politicians and advocates came quickly. 

The parade's chief marshal this year, Dan Magoon, executive director of Mass Fallen Heroes, resigned his position because of the council's decision, according to the Associated Press. Mass Fallen Heroes is a support organization for veterans and Gold Star families. 

"The freedom that we possess to hold such an event as the St. Patrick's parade is due to the men and women who have spilled their blood in defense to this great nation, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation," he reportedly said in a letter to the council.

On Wednesday, Irish-American Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the decision was prejudiced and called for a boycott of the parade.

In a statement, he said that he will "not tolerate discrimination" and he wont march in the parade until Outvets is included. 

"Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same," he said. 

Irish-American Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat, followed the mayor's lead and also pulled out of the parade barring a reversal of the decision.

Responses on Twitter were mostly supportive of the decision to boycott the parade. 

Gay people in the military face unique struggles. 

Although a 1993 report on gays in the military found that sexual orientation was "not germane" to military success, President Bill Clinton — encouraged by Pentagon officials — implemented the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that forced military service members to stay in the closet in order to serve. Thousands of service members were discharged because of their sexual orientation. That policy didn't end until 2011, under the Obama administration, and explicit protections for lesbian and gay service members were announced in 2015.

A ban on transgender troops serving openly didn't end until last year. 

RELATED: This 1995 Clip of Bernie Sanders Defending Gay Soldiers Will Warm Your Heart