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Guinness pulls out of NY St. Patrick's day parade

Ireland's most famous brewery won't sponsor New York's St. Patrick's Day parade Monday over the exclusion of gay groups.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   March 17, 2014 at 8:50 AM   |   Comments

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March 17 (UPI) -- Guinness joined with other major corporations Sunday in pulling its support from the annual New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade over bans preventing LGBT organizations from openly marching.

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all," the beer maker said in a statement. "We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy."

The move comes after Heineken dropped its sponsorship of the New York parade Friday, under pressure from the gay advocacy group GLAAD. Boston-based beer company Sam Adams similarly withdrew its sponsorship Friday from Sunday's South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, after negotiations between the parade organizers and statewide rights group MassEquality failed.

Guinness' decision leaves Ford as the only national corporate sponsor sticking with the parade.

"Ford Motor Company is involved in a wide range of events and organizations in communities across the country and around the world, including long-standing participation in this parade," the company said in a statement last week. "No one person, group or event reflects Ford's views on every issue. What we can tell you is that Ford is proud of its inclusive policies. Every member of the Ford team is valued, and we provide employee benefits regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation."

Representatives from the parade's organizers, the New York board of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, did not respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said back in February he had no plans to march in the parade, the first time in 20 years the mayor would refuse to participate in the annual event.

“I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade," de Blasio said at a press conference.

And Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston's first Irish-American mayor in 20 years, sat out his city's parade over its refusal to allow members of MassEquality to identify themselves as gay.

“So much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression,” Walsh said. "As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city. Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible.”

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