Speed Reads


Guinness quits New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade over gay exclusion

Don Arnold/Getty Images

My goodness. On Friday, Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Co. dropped its sponsorship of Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Heineken pulled out of New York's, each brewery citing the exclusion of gay and lesbian groups from the respective parades. On Sunday, the U.S. arm of Ireland's most famous beer maker joined the boycott, withdrawing its name and greenbacks from New York's biggest Irish-themed parade.

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all," the Dublin brewery said. "We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year's parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation."

The mayors of New York (Bill de Blasio) and Boston (Marty Walsh) also declined to march in the parades, after negotiations to allow gay-rights groups to march led nowhere. There is no gay litmus test for people marching in the parades, but organizers don't allow marchers to display any sign of sexual orientation. In New York, the magnificently named organization the Ancient Order of the Hibernians has run the parade for more than 150 years; in Boston, the longtime organizer is the conservative Allied War Veteran's Council.

If you're wondering how this became a big issue, Garrett Quinn at Vice dates the standoff to court battles in the mid-1990s, when the Supreme Court ruled that the private organizers of Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade have the right to exclude whomever they wish — and gay rights groups decided they were not okay with being so publicly excluded.