Don’t Rainbow on Our Parade

Staten Island Stands Its Ground for its St. Paddy’s Parade

Every year, New Yorkers on Staten Island visit the Church of the Blessed Sacrament to sign up for the local St. Patrick parade. Recently, Carol Bullock, president of the LGBT organization Pride Center of Staten Island, hoped to include her group in the parade but was refused her application.

In 2014, New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade dropped its ban on gay groups’ participation, but Staten Island’s parade has not, explaining that it’s “not a political or sexual identification parade.”[1] St. Patrick is an icon of Irish and Catholic culture, and the Staten Island organizers don’t want their St. Patrick’s parade to be connected with the “sexual identity” movement that has so often pushed its way into various institutions and events.

Despite the straightforward response the Church of the Blessed Sacrament made to the Pride Center’s petitions, the situation attracted much criticism from various organizations in the area. Critics argued it was discriminatory to bar gay organizations from representing themselves in the parade, although the organizers said they didn’t mind gay individuals marching with them; they just didn’t want a certain agenda pushed on a day set aside to honor a saint.

As contentious as such situations tend to be, it seems a commonsense position to simply have a parade dedicated for one specific purpose and reject agendas contrary to it. But the sexual identity agenda seems to be so totalitarian that even an Irish Christian holiday like St. Patrick’s has apparently gone amiss if it doesn’t have official representation from LGBT organizations.

This shows how pervasive the idea of one’s identity as sexual orientation really is in our culture, and we don’t have much reason to assume it will slow down any time soon. It’s clear from church history that marriage has always been honored (and defined) as the union between a man and a woman. St. Patrick and his successors in Ireland were clearly in agreement with the Christian moral tradition: no sexual activity outside of marriage. But the LBGT organizations insist on their right to edit and force the Christian tradition to get with the modern gospel of sexual liberation.

A good way to see the problem is to reverse it. The managers of the parade categorized it a religious parade honoring the saint and excluding sexual agendas, just like an LGBT parade would be expected to express the views of the LGBT movement. It would be absurd for an organization promoting Christian traditional sexual morality to march with their banner in a parade hosted by the Pride Center of Staten Island. Would the LGBT organizers welcome an organization opposing their purpose?

Allowing the parishioners to celebrate St. Patrick is tolerant of their views, just as letting the Pride Center pursue their own vision of sexuality is tolerant of theirs.

Critics of the Staten Island parade position encouraged the Pride Center to attend the parade and wave flags and hold signs as a way of making their presence known. Assuming viewers of the parade stand in public space, that’s simply a matter of free speech. Moreover, Larry Cummings, the president of the Staten Island parade committee, said “gays” can even march in the parade itself, “but not under a banner.” That’s the point. For an LBGT organization to march with a sign all about sexual identity brings sex into the parade front and center, which would subvert the intentions and convictions of the organizers – not to mention those of St. Patrick himself.


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