(CNSNews.com) – For the first time in two decades, the mayor of New York City will not march in the annual St. Patrick Day’s Parade on March 17 but will instead join the “St. Pat’s for All” parade in Queens that will feature gay marchers, including Irish drag queen Pandora Panti Bliss.
“I am not planning on marching in the parade,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a City Hall press conference on Feb. 4, as reported by the New York Daily News on Feb. 5.
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade,” said de Blasio, who did not specify what events he would join.
The Daily News also reported that the annual parade – which dates back to 1766 – does not prohibit homosexuals from taking part but does restrict signage.
“Parade planners have said gays are welcome to join the procession, which is expected to draw more than 1 million people on March 17, but they cannot identify themselves in any way by their sexual orientation,” the Daily News article stated.
De Blasio’s predecessors – Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani – participated in the parade each year they were in office. Mayor David Dinkins boycotted the parade in 1993 because of the gay issue.
The website for “St Pat’s Day for All” parade announced that de Blasio will march in that event as he has done before. Two members of Congress and other city officials will join deBlasio, the article stated.
“Mayor de Blasio, who has marched in the St. Pat's for All Parade for many years, will be joined by Members of Congress Caroline Maloney [D-N.Y.] and Joseph Crowley [D-N.Y.]; Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito; Public Advocate for the City of New York Letitia James; New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer; New York City Council Members Daniel Dromm, Costa Constantinides, and Jimmy Van Bramer,” the article stated.
The participation of Panti Bliss, whose real name is Rory O’Neill, was also announced on the “inclusive” parade’s website.
“This year's parade will feature an appearance by Irish gay activist Rory O'Neill, also known as Panti Bliss,” the website states. “Bliss recently caught the world's ear with an impassioned speech on homophobia, gay pride and hope, which she delivered in early February at the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland.”
"I'm absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to take part in the wonderfully inclusive St Pat's For All parade in the diverse and welcoming borough of Queens in the great city of New York,” Bliss said in the website article. “This colorful and vibrant celebration really is for all - and I'm definitely one of the ‘all.’”
The New York Times wrote about de Blasio’s decision on Feb. 4 , saying some people think he did not go far enough in boycotting the parade.
“Mr. de Blasio also faced criticism from some of his allies on the political left, who said the mayor ought to do more to censure the parade’s organizers,” the article stated. “A coalition of liberal activists and city officials — including the public advocate, Letitia James — this week urged Mr. de Blasio to restrict public workers, such as firefighters and police officers, from marching in the parade while wearing formal city uniforms.
The mayor dismissed that idea at the Feb. 4 press conference, the Times reported.
“Uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right,” de Blasio said.
The “St. Pat’s for All” parade takes place at 2 p.m. on March 2 on Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens.