Dear South Boston St Patrick’s Day organizers,
You might have seen a news story this week taking place in Arizona. It involved a piece of legislation called SB 1062, also known as the ‘Restoration of Religious Freedom Act’. The senate bill allowed for business owners in Arizona to deny services to certain citizens if those citizens lived a life that conflicted with the business owners religious beliefs. If signed into law an Arizona business owner who is a devout Catholic could have, for example, denied services to a gay or lesbian person. There are other examples as well.
When the Republican-led legislature in that state passed SB 1062 it created an immediate and widespread uproar. Corporations doing business in Arizona, including Apple, Marriott and others, urged Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. So did several prominent politicians (included Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake – both also Republicans), as well as the National Football League and Major League Baseball.
Television pundits from across the globe began a full scale assault on the bill. Even Fox News weighed in saying this was a bad piece of legislation…that is saying something!
This bill was, in essence, legalized discrimination. They must be crazy in Arizona right? Too much sun maybe? Imagine being mocked by the entire country? Told that your views were archaic and out of touch. Called “morally repugnant” by none other than John Stewart. The U.S. does not allow for discrimination of this kind, we’re better than that was the prevailing opinion.
Unless of course it’s the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the last bastion of Massachusetts-led, religious-based discrimination. Our own very special version of archaic and out of touch thinking. How dare gays and lesbians be allowed to march in your parade, you say.
“Saint Patrick was a Catholic archbishop and is a Catholic saint,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic League, in a statement Thursday. “How do you honor a Catholic saint by providing a platform to those who express pride in rejecting Catholic morality? And who castigate that morality as bigotry, hatred and homophobia?”
Well Mr. Doyle, how about we ask the organizers of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin? You know, the place where it all began. Apparently they have no problem at all reconciling your dilemma. They openly welcome gays and lesbians to take part in their parade and celebration.
By the way, have you taken a quick peek around Southie lately? In case you haven’t noticed it has become one of the hottest up-and-coming ‘gayborhoods’ in the region. There are Southie-based LGBT neighborhood groups such as One Southie and others. And along with this new influx of young straight and gay residents Southie has seen an incredible growth of beautiful new residential buildings, new restaurants and more.
Kudos to Mayor Menino and now Mayor Walsh for doing the right thing.
No gays and lesbians allowed huh? Can you imagine if someone in Boston ever put up a sign that read “No Irish Need Apply”? Oh wait…
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