BOSTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The mayors of Boston and New York plan to stay away from this year's St. Patrick's Day parades unless gay rights groups are allowed to participate.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Wednesday that he was trying to work out an agreement that would change the parade's policy, the Boston Globe reported. He said a gay veterans' group sponsored by MassEquality is applying to join the parade.
The Boston parade is set for March 16, while the New York parade, the largest in the world, is on St. Patrick's Day, March 17.
John "Wacko" Hurley, who has been involved with the parade for years, said there will be no change. He cited a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the parade's right to keep gay and lesbian groups out.
Walsh is the son of immigrants from Ireland and has participated in the parade for years, marching last year as a state legislator. But he said his decision this year was an easy call.
"I'm not in a tough spot," he said.
Walsh's predecessor, Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston's first Italian-American mayor, stopped marching in the parade in 1995 because of the ban on gay groups.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced some time ago he would skip the parade. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito said Wednesday that she will not march and that she is banning any official council presence, the New York Daily News reported.
Viverito said council members who want to march can do so as individuals. Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is openly gay, never marched herself but allowed the council to be represented.