Two days before the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Borough President James Oddo announced via Twitter that he would not be marching on March 3 to protest the continued exclusion of the Pride Center of Staten Island.
“I wanted to, and thought I could reconcile my call for inclusion with still marching, but internally I cannot,” Republican Oddo said in a March 1 tweet. “No disrespect is intended towards anyone, including colleagues who will march. For me, my call for inclusion needs to reinforced by my own action. I hope for a good parade this year, and will work towards a truly joyous, inclusive one in 2020 and beyond.”
The evening before, the borough president had declined to answer the question of his participation when asked by NY1 News.
Oddo, who is serving his second term as borough president after nearly 15 years on the City Council, had voiced his support for the Pride Center’s participation this Sunday in a February 15 tweet, where he wrote, “I look forward to marching next month, and time has long since passed that we include the @pridecenterSI. What a unifying moment it would be for our borough to reach an accord and have all of SI enjoying this happy day.”
Democratic Congressmember Max Rose, who is serving his first term representing New York’s 11th District, which encompasses Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, also announced on March 1 that he would not be part of the parade on Sunday.
At a February 17 registration event for the parade, Carol Bullock, the Pride Center’s executive director, was told that the members of the parade’s organizing committee had voted to reject the group’s application to march with a banner once again this year because its participation would “go against the tenets of the Catholic Church.”
The group’s banner, parade president Larry Cummings told Bullock, “promoted homosexual lifestyles.”
Though Bullock responded, “You know I’ll be back against next year, Larry,” her group, at least as of February 21, was not calling on others to boycott the parade. The parade, she wrote in an email message, “is an important event on Staten Island for the community and Irish who live here. It’s a great day, so we are not looking to ruin that, and that is why we want to march.”
Bullock said she and others planned to attend the parade as spectators, explaining, “It’s a great event.”
Bullock was not immediately available to comment on whether the Pride Center had shifted its posture and was now calling for a boycott.
The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City tweeted praise for the GOP borough president, writing, “The Republican Borough President of Staten Island gets that you can’t march in a community parade where not all the members of the community are welcome. Every Democrat in the city should be on the same page.”
Shortly thereafter, the club also tweeted its thanks to Rose.