STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Along Forest Avenue on Staten Island, businesses are getting ready for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade that is scheduled for the first Sunday in March.
It’s one of Staten Island’s biggest events, and one the head of the Pride Center of Staten Island is asking people to boycott.
“Any organization who has applied, rethink marching that day. Any organization who is thinking of applying, again, please rethink that decision,” said Carol Bullock, the center’s executive director.
The Parade Committee of the Ancient Order of Hibernians organizes the annual march. On Sunday, Bullock and the center’s supporters attempted to apply for a permit to march in the parade. But on the door there was a sign that read, “Do to the threat of a protest by the gay pride people/politicians/and minsters of other faiths on the holy grounds of Blessed Sacrament Church the parade must move the parade sign ups to 300 Manor Rd.”
Bullock went to the alternate location, but was told by Parade President Larry Cummings that it’s a “non sexual-identification parade,” and that not allowing the group to march under its banner is “not discrimination.”
“We just really didn’t get anywhere. He doesn’t believe that it’s discrimination; we clearly feel that it’s blatant discrimination,” Bullock said.
Staten Island’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the only one in the city that isn’t inclusive. The issue dogged the parade in Manhattan for decades until gays and lesbians were allowed to march under their own banners six years ago.
Last year, many island elected officials chose not to march in the parade in a show of support with the Pride Center. This year, many of those same politicians are voicing support again, vowing not to march in a parade that is not inclusive.
The parade is seen as a kickoff to the campaign season.
Borough President James Oddo, Congressman Max Rose and City Councilwoman Debi Rose say they will skip it.
Councilman Steve Matteo says he is undecided.
Congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblyman Michael Cusick did not answer whether or not they plan to march.
Cummings did not return NY1’s requests for comment.
Source: Spectrum News NY1 | Staten Island