BOSTON — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he’s still hoping that he and openly gay people will be able to march in South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade even as the controversy over Sunday’s march intensifies.
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South End restaurant Club Café had announced it wouldn’t serve brews from Boston Beer Company – which manufactures Sam Adams – until the company said on Friday that it would pull sponsorship from the parade, which does not allow marchers to openly identify as gay.
Now a Southie bar is boycotting Sam Adams because they’re unhappy with the company’s decision to drop its parade sponsorship.
“They’re fired, as far as I’m concerned,” said Tommy Flaherty, Jr., the co-owner of the Cornerstone Pub. “If they’re not going to support the veterans, and they’re not going to support South Boston, well, they can sell their beer elsewhere.”
Flaherty said he thought it was disingenuous of the Boston Beer Company to pull its sponsorship so late.
“If some silly issue is going to get them to pull support from our neighborhood, I don’t see us doing business with them again,” he said.
The Boston Beer Company said in a statement that it is disappointed that an agreement could not be reached between the gay rights advocacy group MassEquality and parade organizers that would have allowed a group of gay veterans to march.
Walsh, who said he will march if an agreement is reached, told NewsCenter5 on Saturday that the Boston Beer Company’s stand was “courageous.”
“I commend Sam Adams,” Walsh said. “It’s a courageous stand, because they have a lot of business.”
A 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council could include or exclude whichever groups it wanted. The parade, one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the nation, draws as many as 1 million spectators to South Boston.
MassEquality said in a statement Saturday that the group hopes to march while flying a rainbow flag and a banner identifying marchers as LGBT.
“We appreciate that the Mayor is committed to marching only if the LGBT community can march openly, and that he is still fighting for that,” the group said. “We hope that is the case tomorrow.”
Walsh said that even if an agreement cannot be reached between parade organizers and LGBT groups, he believes progress has been made.
“I think this year there has been a lot of steps toward that, toward the full inclusion,” he said. “It’s a question of fairness and I can’t understand why in 2014 we’re still having this discussion, this debate.”