The gay veterans group previously banned from Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has decided they will march in this year’s parade.
An earlier vote from the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council which barred OutVets from marching drew immediate backlash from high-profile politicians, many of who said they would not march if the gay veterans were excluded. It also caused some sponsors to back out and grew in controversy as word spread on social media.
"This has gone on much, much too long and it's something that needed to be corrected," the parade's lead organizer, Tim Duross, told NBC Boston. "It was a mistake, really, with regard to the thought of barring any veterans."
Duross says he was unable convince the rest of the council to allow OutVets to march, so he made the decision unilaterally, a move he was able to make because his name is on the permit.
"It may be my last decision as parade organizer, but it's the right thing to do," he said.
Later, after an hour-long meeting, the council voted unanimously to stand behind Duross' decision.
Officials like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced they would boycott the parade when they learned the group had been barred. City Councilor Tito Jackson, a mayoral candidate in Boston, said he will not take part regardless of whether OutVets participates.
After learning the decision was reversed, OutVets released a statement accepting the council’s invitation and confirming their participation in the march.
“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,” the statement read. “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. “
Governor Baker also spoke out and stated he and Lieutenant Governor Polito were, “disappointed with the attempt to discriminate against individuals who served this country with honor and are pleased OutVets will now participate in the parade."
Ed Flynn, one of the first council members to speak out about the ban, also expressed his joy in learning the decision was overturned. “OutVets never should have been banned in the first place. South Boston is an inclusive community, and with this development, we are one step closer to a parade that reflects that spirit.”
OutVets added that they were encouraged by the Council’s decision to reform the policies involving parade management arguing that the changes will make the parade, “more inclusive and transparent for the entire community.”