“This is a parade that celebrates inclusion, diversity, unity,” de Blasio said. “That is what this city is about. That is what has made this city strong.”
Among those to join de Blasio’s resounding statement of support for New York City’s gay community were City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Several state legislators and members of congress and the City Council joined them at the front of the parade.
The Irish government made a point of supporting an all-inclusive parade by sending two representatives, Irish Minister of State Ciaran Cannon and Consul General Noel KilKenny.
“The Ireland I represent is changing. It’s slowly becoming a place where regardless of your sexual orientation, regardless of your ethnicity, regardless of your religious beliefs, you are treated as an equal citizen,” Cannon said. “The Ireland of 2014 is a much more caring, much more inclusive place.”
Even without the mayor’s support, it is unlikely St. Patrick's Day Parade chairman John Dunleavy will have a change of heart since he believes, as he said in a 2007 interview with the New York Irish Examiner, the inclusion of gay banners would, “change the spirit of the parade.”
Terry McGovern, who served with Senator Tom Duane as one of the parade’s Grand Marshals, feels that this approach is a slight to all those who want a chance to self-identify as both Irish and gay, as well as a dangerous institutionalization of an anti-gay message into American Irish culture.
“In the name of religion, people keep trying to re-institutionalize hatred. Recently in Arizona, we wanted the right not to sell or do business with LGBTQ people, nothing personal, mind you, just religion,” McGovern said. “So as you can see, this is not really just a dispute about a small, benign matter. Discrimination is never a small matter. It institutionalizes hatred. Irish people of all should understand this well.”
Corona resident Elna Tullock, who has been attending the St. Pat’s For All Parade since its inception, said she supports the parade because she believes in supporting equality and justice for all.
“I try to attend all events that have to do with the betterment of people, and I came specifically to this parade because it’s inclusive,” Tullock said.
Gabby Cryan of the Irish Queers, an organization involved in exploring the legality of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s gay exclusion, said that police and firefighters in uniforms, representing the City of New York, “should not be marching in a parade that’s so homophobic that the mayor won’t even march in it.”
“There’s nothing about the police or firefighters that are inherently Irish, there’s nothing about the numerous schools and businesses that participate that are inherently Irish,” Cryan said. “It’s just Irish gay groups that aren’t allowed to march, it’s not other political organizations.”