‘OUT’ OF ST. PAT PARADE
Boss axed for gay nay
The longtime chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been ousted over his hardline opposition to gay groups marching in the iconic procession.
John Dunleavy was replaced by a board member who was instrumental in winning a spot this year for a gay group tied to official broadcaster WNBC, according to a statement Wednesday from the organization behind the annual March 17 march up Fifth Avenue.
New Chairman John Lahey was elected “with the authorization to add a second lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender group to the parade,” the statement added.
Tuesday’s decision by the parade’s board of directors came five days after the US Supreme Court ruled that samesex marriage was a right protected by the US Constitution, and followed a May referendum approving gay marriage in Ireland.
Lahey, the president of Quinnipiac University, and new Vice Chairman John Fitzsimmons were also authorized to negotiate a new broadcast contract with WNBC, whose parent net work sent members of Out@NBCUniversal to march in this year’s parade.
Their inclusion marked the first time gays and lesbians were allowed to march behind their own banner in the 254year history of the venerable parade.
Many politicians — including Mayor de Blasio — have boycotted the parade over its exclusion of gay groups that wanted to take part in it.
Dunleavy, 76, had been chairman of the parade’s board since 1993, but faced growing opposition over his stance against the open participation of gays and lesbians.
The IrishCentral.com Web site, which first reported Dunleavy’s ouster, said his fate was all but sealed when the Irish Voice newspaper reported last month that he said gay groups “would have a problem” marching next year.
Supporters of gay rights exulted at Dunleavy’s departure, blasting him on social media as “homophobic,” while one Dunleavy backer tweeted a link to a column blaming his ouster on the “Gaystapo.”