- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2014

Guinness, the maker of the popular Irish beer, will nonetheless be missing from one of New York City’s biggest Irish-based draws — this Monday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, due to the march’s prohibition on open displays of gay rights.

Company executives decided to call it quits and pull back sponsorship after parade organizers announced they would not turn back from a longstanding rule that bans gay and lesbian groups from openly marching, Fox News reported.

Guinness said, in a statement posted on the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s website: “Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”

Last week, the Boston brewer of Samuel Adams beer pulled sponsorship from that city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade for the same reason. But companies aren’t the only ones getting in on the pro-gay parade message.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will go down in history as the first mayor in decades to avoid participating in the march, due entirely to the gay issue. And Boston Mayor Martin Walsh sat out from his city’s Sunday parade, too, as a similar form of protest, Fox News reported.

Parade organizers maintain that gays aren’t prohibited from marching — but they just can’t carry campaign signs or political messages promoting their sexuality, or identify themselves as members of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender community, The Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he’ll participate in the New York event regardless of the controversy. In a statement reported by the AP, he said: “The St. Patrick’s Day parade [in New York] is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality, and I would be happy to participate in it.”

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