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OUTVETS

The Allied War Veterans Council has voted 9-4 to deny OUTVETS return to march in Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade. Photo courtesy OUTVETS

New England’s LGBTQ Veterans Organization OUTVETS has been denied its place in Boston’s March 19, 2017 St. Patrick’s Day parade — a spot it held for the past two years.

Standing in solidarity with OUTVETS, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh responded by pulling out from his plan to march in the parade.

“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city,” Walsh said in a statement provided by a spokeswoman. “I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”

“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city,” Walsh said in a statement provided by a spokeswoman. “I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”

In 2015, OUTVETS was the first LGBTQ group approved to march in the parade. Congressman Seth Moulton and Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco Urena marched with marched with them at that time “in support of LGBTQ Veterans and our right to be respected as Veterans for our selfless service to our nation,” reads a March 7 statement posted to the group’s Facebook page.

However the following year, OUTVETS was placed at the rear of the parade, far from the other Veterans groups marching. “While many wanted to quit and go home, we agreed that as an organization we were there to honor those who had served and are still serving our country,” reads the statement.

According to a March 8 Boston Globe report, OUTVETS founder and chief executive Bryan Bishop said he was “‘disgusted’ by the move. He also called it ‘disheartening.'”

“This organization has marched in the parade for the last two years with no issues, no problems. We’ve followed their rules to the letter of the law,” Bishop told the Globe. “We were there to honor veterans.”

The Globe report goes on to say:

The Allied War Veterans Council previously fought attempts by openly gay groups to march, taking the case all the way to the US Supreme Court — and winning. The dispute resulted in the loss of city funding for the parade and the refusal of Mayors Thomas M. Menino and Martin J. Walsh to march. Walsh participated in 2015 after OUTVETS was allowed to march. “We can finally move beyond the issue of inclusiveness,” he said then.

The Parade officials Council gave no reason for this year’s decision.

“While four members of the council advocated for our organization, the majority ruled against having OUTVETS in the parade” by 9-4. “While the reason for our denial is unclear, one can only assume it’s because we are LGBTQ,” according to OUTVETS.

“This is a sad day for the LGBTQ community but also a horrible day for Veterans. We served our country with honor and distinction. But even after successfully participating in this parade and bringing honor to those who have served, we are still fighting for the respect that comes with serving our country.”

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