Boston

Patience (in Activism) Is a Virtue: Gay Groups Finally March in Boston St. Pat's Parade

Sometimes cultural shifts take 20 years.

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Demanding the same access to drunken fistfights as everybody else.
Credit: Tim Pierce / photo on flickr

Sunday marked the first time in the history of Boston's 114-year-old St. Patrick's Day Parade that gay groups were allowed to march with everybody else. This has been a battle for decades. It's worth pointing out the end point because it is another example of how cultural problems are to be resolved by cultural pressure, even if it does take some time.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council had refused to allow gay groups into the parade, a decision that has been causing controversy since the 1990s. In a 1995 Supreme Court case, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Group of Boston, the justices ruled unanimously that the council had a right to do so under the First Amendment. Then Justice David Souter wrote about excluding gay groups: "One important manifestation of the principle of free speech is that one who chooses to speak may also decide what not to say," meaning the parade organizers could not be forced to host a group that conveyed a message with which the organizers did not agree.

Boston mayors started boycotting the event after the ruling, but this time Mayor Marty Walsh was on hand, saying it was the start of a "new chapter" of Boston's history.

The parade's first gay group was a collection of military veterans, appropriately enough. OutVets marched in the parade, as did Boston Pride, who was just approved last week, according to the Assocated Press. The AP noted that some Catholic groups, like the Knights of Columbus, declined to march as a result.

Yes, it would have been faster had the Supreme Court ruled the other way, but it also would have been terribly wrong, and it would not have been embraced by the community. It took an additional 20 years for culture to change enough to bring gays into the parade as groups (certainly there were gay people in the parade in other groups all along), but look at all the controversy that didn't happen with this shift. The change was barely noticed, whereas the battle over inclusion was top national news back then.

But that's the way it's supposed to happen. This didn't involve discrimination based on government rules and regulations, like bans on gay marriage recognition or keeping gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Those are issues that require government involvement in order to resolve (and even then, a whole lot of cultural shoving and pushing was needed to get majorities on board). The inclusion in the parade was not a government matter, just as with other free-association controversies like participation in the Boy Scouts. It's up to the citizenry to do the work to push for changes. Yes, it takes time. But the advantage is that it will stick, and there will be less pushback and resentment when change happens.

NEXT: "If you only support free speech for ideas you agree with, you're a hack."

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  1. “One important manifestation of the principle of free speech is that one who chooses to speak may also decide what not to say,”

    exception: decorating a cake, in which case you can be forced to work for customers who want you to say things to which you object.

    “Yes, it would have been faster had the Supreme Court ruled the other way, but it also would have been terribly wrong, and it would not have been embraced by the community.”

    Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case. “Community” leaders will rush to the cameras to say that the courts have spoken and all that’s left is for us to obey. That’s why the activists insist on using force – they know it works.

    1. You do realize that there is a huge gulf between “the community” and “community leaders”, right?

      1. Certainly!

        But in practical politics, it’s lead or be led.

        The media is going to be looking for “your leaders” to interview. You need to take steps to contact the reporter and explain how Mayor so-and-so or Rev. so-and-so doesn’t speak for you.

        1. But in practical politics, it’s lead or be led.

          So deliciously totalitarian!

          1. Oh, for crying out loud, I mean *influence* (for or against liberty) in politics. And the laziness of a media which will assume that your self-appointed “leaders” speak for you unless you take care to disavow them.

            Or do you think I’m *endorsing* the realities I describe?

            1. OK, I’ll correct myself – self-proclaimed community leaders have no political influence, the media will always see through their BS, reporters will proactively seek out alternate views without being shamed into it, free unicorns are available for the asking.

          2. Regardless of whether Plato was a totalitarian, I have trouble disagreeing with this formulation of Eddie’s point:

            “[H]e who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.” (Republic I)

  2. Eww. Why would gay people want to be around a bunch of Irish Bostonians?

    1. “Today is St. Patrick’s Day, where everyone’s a little bit Irish…except the gays and the Italians!”

      1. “Ladies and gentlemen, what you are seeing is a total disregard for the things St. Patrick’s Day stands for. All this drinking, violence, destruction of property. Are these the things we think of when we think of the Irish?”

        1. “Ladies, please. All our founding fathers, astronauts and World Series heroes have been either drunk or on cocaine.”

          1. “What are you looking at?”: the innocent words of a drunken child. Well, I’ll tell you what we’re looking at, young man. A town gone mad. A town whose very conscious was washed away in a tide of beer and green vomit.

            1. The worst part is that I now know that St Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and get to anticipate all the drunk morons screaming in the street tomorrow. I need to get shitfaced, puke into balloons, and then throw them down at the revelers tomorrow.

              1. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I find it to be very apt.

                1. Those goddamned Irish’ll kill ya

                2. Nothing compares to what it was like when I lived in Manhattan, though. The Upper East Side was the end of many pub crawls. Since I actively ignore St Patrick’s Day, I never know when it is, but then I’d come out of the subway after work and go “why are there so many retards wearing green and screaming? Is that puke? And is it green?!?” And then it would hit me what day it was, and I would make for my apartment, lock the doors, and shutter the windows.

                  It gets REALLY stupid.

              2. puke into balloons

                That seems logistically challenging. A funnel, perhaps?

                1. You’re right, I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I can just shoot my inevitable diarrhea right into the balloons instead.

                  1. Episiarch, you of all people should be able to appreciate that St. Patrick’s Day is the reason we get hot young women dressed like sluts swarming the city on their way to Lucky. Isn’t that reason enough to celebrate?

      2. “To alcohol! The cause of… and solution to… all of life’s problems!”

        1. According to chemistry, alcohol IS a solution.

    2. Why would anyone want to be around drunk Irish Bostonians period?

      They are the WORST.

      1. Especially when Nicole’s in town.

    3. You write pornographic stories with people consensually puking on each other and you ask this question?

      1. Of all the things you can accuse me of, at least I’m not from Boston.

        1. I guess some people can’t be happy unless they find someone to look down upon.

          1. Boston wouldn’t be all that bad if it wasn’t for the Irish.

            1. Your people truly are the worst. It’s amazing that Nicole isn’t Irish.

              1. I bet she secret is. Or has had sex with one of them.

                1. It has to be the latter, there’s no way her English side would tolerate her being part Irish. She really is the worst.

        2. Yeah, but he is. Or from nearby, which is essentially the same thing. Like Worcester.

          1. Worcester isn’t that close. Framingham maybe.

            1. It’s close enough. Plus it’s horrible, which was more the point.

              1. Worcester may be worse than just about anywhere else in Massachusetts, of that I agree.

                Of course you could go south to Walpole or Quincy which also smell of sweaty balls.

                Jesus I’m glad I left that horrible state.

                1. I got a speeding ticket at 16 years old in MA when visiting a friend. I appealed it because it was patently bullshit (I was in a pack of cars on a two-lane road, the cop was coming the other way, and basically nabbed me for having CT plates). After about six months of hearing nothing, I forgot about it.

                  Four years later I got a letter summoning me to a hearing in Worcester about it. I went, and it was a room with a single judge and a stenographer and no one else. I told the judge what happened and he dismissed the ticket on the spot. On the way to and from, I was just thinking “my god Worcester is a shithole”.

              2. It’s worster.

            2. Get to know Rufus: My home town of Duvernay defeated Framingham 3-2 at a soccer tournament back in the 80s.

              Worcester is where hockey mullets go to die.

    4. Even the people of Rock Ridge had to be forced into accepting them.

  3. That’s all well and good, but did they pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd?

  4. “Sometimes cultural shifts take 20 years … cultural problems are to be resolved by cultural pressure, even if it does take some time.”

    No, “cultural problems” are to be resolved by a couple generations of indoctrination in state run schools without the consent or knowledge of parents. Oh, I’m sorry, did you really think that it was your witty, libertarian arguments that won everyone over?

    “Sunday marked the first time in the history of Boston’s 114-year-old St. Patrick’s Day Parade that gay groups were allowed to march with everybody else.”

    This is, of course, an absolute lie. They have always been allowed to march with everybody else, but that is not what they have wanted. What they have wanted was to march AS GAYS amongst everybody else. Come the new progressive/libertarian order, every parade will have to be a gay parade.

    Make drugs legal, you’re gonna need ’em.

    1. What they have wanted was to march AS GAYS amongst everybody else.

      I’ve long felt that an individual’s caring about the Saint Patrick’s day parade was a huge warning sign of retardation.

      Every time the silly parade intrudes on my notice I become even more convinced that this prejudice is a valid one.

    2. What they have wanted was to march AS GAYS amongst everybody else on St. Patrick’s Day in addition to the Annual Gay Pride parade.

      +1 Parade Day.

  5. Have the The Gays ever excluded The Irish from the Pride Parade?

    1. I thought everyone else excluded the Micks out of a sense of self prevservation.
      No?

      1. I thought it was because they wanted to parade AS IRISH!

    2. Have the The Gays ever excluded The Irish from the Pride Parade?

      Does drunk and belligerent count? It’s not a choice, they’re just born that way.

  6. THIS WHOLE PARADE IS OUT OF ORDER!!!

    *gesticulates wildly*

  7. OK, it was not a victory won in the courts, but it is still evidence that anything other than tacit endorsement of the homosexual activist ideological position is unacceptable. There is no other reason for compelling the parade organizers to accept gay organizations as part of the parade, as there was no phohibition against individuals as part of other groups.

  8. I thought those parades were just to celebrate the Irish?

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