Since 1762, the St. Patrick's Day Parade has been an institution of New York City. However, last year Mayor Bill de Blasio and Guinness, the parade organization’s biggest sponsor, boycotted the tradition to show support for the LBGT community, which was prohibited from marching with pro-gay propaganda. On Wednesday the gay ban was lifted reported The New York Times as New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was named the Grand Marshal of the 254th Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Out@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual employee resource group of NBC that plan to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade behind their own banner provided the historic news to The Irish Voice through an unnamed source. According to reports the decision was part of a compromise to calm the controversy that excluded gay banners from the 2014 parade. Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University and Francis X. Comerford, chief revenue officer of NBC-owned television affiliates, were instrumental in the landmark result to lift the gay ban. It also seems that money played an influential role with the absence of Guinness last year. Bill O’Reilly, spokesperson for parade organizers, stated, “other groups would be free to apply in the future.”
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan was given the honor of Grand Marshal to kickoff the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade during a reception at the New York Athletic Club on September 3. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York followed in Pope Francis’ sentiment, evident in his statement that was released today, stating that parade organizers have his “confidence and support.” Last year the Pontiff made headlines when he declared, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Cardinal Dolan went on to state he “prays that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us,” and reminded us that the parade is about St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese.