- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York City Council won’t have an official presence at the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this year because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves while marching, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced Tuesday.

The decision follows a similar one this month from new Mayor Bill de Blasio, marking a significant departure from previous mayoral administrations.

In the Council announcement, Mark-Viverito said, “This City Council is committed to celebrating and respecting the diversity of New York City, and that is why we’ve decided to not participate in the parade. I hope the organizers will eventually realize that the parade will be better when all New Yorkers can march openly and proudly.”

The parade, which started long before the five boroughs has joined to become New York City, is run by a private organization that has said that gays and lesbians can march, but are not allowed to carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as LGBT. An email to the parade’s executive secretary seeking comment was not answered.


The parade draws huge crowds as participants march along Fifth Avenue and is one of the city’s most well-known events.

The parade’s prohibition on gay-friendly signs and banners has been the subject of protests for years and has spurred alternative parades and events.

The decision means there will be no City Council banner or sergeant-at-arms at the parade. Mark-Viverito says individual councilmembers can take part if they want to.