Organizers unanimously vote to allow LGBTQ vets group in parade

BOSTON (WHDH) - SOUTH BOSTON (WHDH) — Organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s parade voted Friday to allow an LGBTQ veterans group to march this year after they were initially told they could not.

Parade organizer Tim Duross said he sent a letter to the group, OutVets, on Friday to invite them to march. He said he felt it had to be done.

“I decided this is a wrong that has to be corrected so I issued a letter to OutVets this afternon. If they’ll come, they’re welcomed,” said Duross.

The group was initially told by the Allied War Veterans Council that they could not participate because they sent in their application late and their rainbow flag violated the code of conduct forbidding anything involving sexuality. Bryan Bishop, the founder of OutVets, said he never saw a deadline for applying and that despite marching for the past two years, they had never been told they were violating the code of conduct.

“We always want to be present and bring awareness to veterans, gay or straight,” said Bishop. “It would be nice to be able ot do it but not feel like we have a target on us.”

Elected officials including Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker said they would not march if OutVets was not allowed to. Sponsors including the Teamsters and Stop & Shop also dropped out and the council decided to reconsider.

Veterans from five different posts met on Friday with lawmakers to discuss if Duross’ invite was valid and then a re-vote was taken. All veterans who were able to vote voted to allow OutVets to march.

Statement from OutVets:

“OutVets was just informed that a vote was taken tonight by the allied war veterans’ council. The vote was unanimous (11-0) to accept OutVets into the St. Patrick’s Day Parade permanently.

Additionally, we are encouraged by the further actions of the Council to reform their policies and procedures regarding management of this historic parade. These changes will make the parade more inclusive and transparent for the entire community.

We are honored and humbled by all the outpouring of support that has been displayed for our LGBTQ Veterans – who are one of the most unrepresented demographic in our Veterans community. We look forward to marching proudly on March 19th and honoring the service and sacrifice of those brave men and women who have sacrificed for our country.”

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