Pols Don’t Rain on Bigot’s Parade

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Days after John Dunleavy’s Nazi-KKK rant, three mayors, senator join in the fun

Despite Dunleavy’s insistence that this is a Catholic parade that must uphold sexual morality, some of the biggest cheers from the spectators were reserved for Rudy Giuliani and his third wife Judy, despite the fact that in the eyes of the Catholic Church he is still married to Donna Hanover. While Giuliani had his first marriage annulled, he dissolved his marriage to Hanover through civil divorce—something his church does not recognize.

John Francis Mulligan of Irish Queers, which led the protest this year, said, “There used to be loads of Irish immigrants here” at the protest, “but the majority have returned to Ireland where it is safer and better.” He also conceded that some have burned out on protesting.

Billy Desmond, a gay Irish native who lives in London, showed up at the protest to see his first New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade and was appalled. “It fills me with anger and sadness,” he said. “This is not the Ireland of today. Queers in Ireland are accepted. We’re part of the St. Patrick’s Day parades. This is horrific and creates a sense of isolation.” On the verge of tears, he said, “It’s too painful. I have to leave.”

Gay City News asked the politicians marching if the remarks of the parade chairman, published last week in the Irish Times, gave them pause about participating this year. Clinton said Dunleavy’s comments were “unfortunate.” Adolfo Carrion, Jr., the borough president of the Bronx, said, “It’s not Dunleavy’s parade,” despite the fact that he runs it and his views were not repudiated publicly by either the parade committee or the Ancient Order of Hibernians. “This parade is not run by one person,” said former Mayor Ed Koch, participating in his 35th St. Pat’s Parade.

“He [Dunleavy] doesn’t express the views of all in the parade,” said John Faso, a former state assemblyman and candidate for the Republican nomination for governor. Republican William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor now also running for governor of New York, continued his march to the right by joining the parade in defiance of the gay boycott.

Bloomberg avoided comment. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was scheduled to march but did not, though not in protest of gay exclusion apparently. His opponent for the Democratic nomination for governor, Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County Executive, was chastised by Quinn for coming to her Speaker’s breakfast and then marching.

While most politicians make fatuous and evasive remarks about the controversy, Suozzi’s won this year’s prize: “Today is not a day about political statements,” he said.

When Andrew Kirtzman of WCBS tried to ask Cardinal Edward Egan about the appropriateness of keeping gays out of the parade, Egan literally ran away as he invariably does when gay issues are raised with him.

Quinn said of Dunleavy, “His comments are in no way representative of Irish New Yorkers and Americans. They do not even represent the majority of AOH members.”

Quinn had discussions with AOH members about marching without a group banner, but with some insignia such as rainbow sashes or buttons “in a dignified and respectful way,” but was rebuffed by Dunleavy. Two nights before the parade, Quinn told Gay City News, “Although we did not get to a compromise this year, I am incredibly optimistic about the prospects for the future.”

But Anne Maguire, a founder of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization whose 1991 application to march in the parade sparked the controversy, said, “Not having a banner is going backwards.” Would sashes be an acceptable compromise? “No way,” she said.

Maguire has just published a book about the controversy, “Rock the Sham! The Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization’s Battle to March in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

Mulligan relayed some good news from Sydney, Australia that a gay Irish group marched in their St. Pat’s parade for the first time. “It’s much bigger than New York,” he said, “It’s about queer visibility.”

Not if John Dunleavy can help it. Asked about the admission of LGBT people into his parade, he said, “What’s the first word in the name of the parade? ‘Saint.’ That says it all.”

Despite the outrageous comments made last week by parade chairman John Dunleavy comparing gays to Nazis, Klanners, and prostitutes, and a turn-out of LGBT protesters, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Judy saw fit to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Friday.