The president of the Catholic League is challenging the organizers of the parade to include him after LGBT activists protested the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for barring LGBT participants with pride flags and banners. Update: Organizers say he is free to participate.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League and a vocal opponent of LGBT rights, said Wednesday he wants to march in the 2014 New York City Pride Parade under a banner reading, “Straight is great.”
Donohue made the remarks during an interview with conservative talk show host Steve Malzberg, in which he criticized activists for protesting bans on LGBT groups marching in the New York and Boston St. Patrick’s Day parades and corporate sponsors that withdrew their support of the events over the policies.
“Are they going to let me do it or not? I’m waiting to see what they want to say,” Donohue said, explaining the pride parade organizers require participants to carry LGBT signs. “All right, you can disagree with their rules, but that’s their parade. Why don’t they respect us when it comes to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade?”
When reached by phone Wednesday night, organizers of the parade at Heritage of Pride Inc. said Donohue had not yet filled out a formal application to participate in the parade and that his request was made by email.
Britton Hogge, the organization’s operations manager, told BuzzFeed a decision has not yet been made on permitting Donohue to march under the banner he proposed, but that they “will be issuing a statement probably sometime tomorrow,” he said.
This year’s major St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York and Boston were marked by the withdrawal of corporate sponsors and both the cities’ mayors refusal to participate or march in the parades due to the ban on LGBT groups. In New York, Guinness dropped its sponsorship less than a day before the parade kicked off Monday morning.
In response, Donohue called for a boycott of the sponsors, including Guinness, Sam Adams, and Heineken.
The annual parade, which draws hundreds of thousands, will take place June 29.
Update — 10:30 a.m. ET: Pride Parade organizers and LGBT advocates at GLAAD welcomed Donohue to march in the parade.
“Mr. Donohue and his group are free to participate in the 2014 March,” said David Studinski, march director at NYC Pride, in a statement. “His group’s presence affirms the need for this year’s Pride theme, ‘We Have Won When We’re One.’ Straight is great – as long as there’s no hate.”
Chris Frederick, managing director of the organization, said “straight allies are great,” including the thousands that participate in the parade every year like Catholic groups that support LGBT equality.
Along with welcoming Donohue to participate in the parade, organizers pointed to a recent interview in which he said he wouldn’t ask to be included. During an interview on World Over with Raymond Arroyo, Donohue said, “If I wanted to get into their gay pride parade with my own float with big banners saying ‘straight is great,’ they would have a right to feel put-upon and I wouldn’t do that to them.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, asked Donohue to march with her in the parade.
“As a fellow Irish New Yorker, I’m hoping Bill will march with me at NYC Pride,” Ellis said. “I look forward to the day when I can march openly with Bill in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and not be turned away because of who I am.”
Both the parade’s organizers and GLAAD pointed to recent examples of Donohue’s opposition to LGBT equality, such as a July 2013 interview in which he says marriage equality is “one of the most bizarre ideas in human history.”
As of Monday morning, parade organizers had not yet received a formal application from Donohue.