NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is not planning to march in the nation's biggest and oldest St. Patrick's Day parade unless its organizers change their limitations on displays of gay pride.
De Blasio skipped the march a year ago and currently intends to do so again, aides to the mayor said Monday. This year, one group is permitted to carry an LGBT-themed banner in the March 17 parade up Fifth Avenue but the mayor, a Democrat, does not feel that change is enough.
"We need something more for it to really feel like we've turned the corner," the mayor said Sunday after he marched in an inclusive St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens. "A lot of people feel — I think, rightfully — that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating."
The mayor's staff said de Blasio would be willing to reconsider if the organizers changed their minds in the next two weeks. At the moment, only a delegation from NBCUniversal will be permitted to march under a LGBT-themed banner. NBC televises the parade.
De Blasio, a Democrat, became the first mayor in 20 years to skip the Manhattan march. Many other top elected officials also did not participate in 2014.
The parade's organizers have not suggested that they will alter the policy. The event — one of the largest parades on the city calendar — has been held for than 250 years and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, will serve as grand marshal.
The mayor's decision to likely skip the parade could be another source of tension with the city's Irish political leaders, a group that has seen its influence wane in recent years.
Its numbers have shrunk, largely due to moves to the suburbs and the rise of other ethnic political groups, and many Irish leaders were alarmed last year when the mayor appeared to consider canceling the city's annual Hibernians breakfast St. Patrick's Day morning. The event was held, but much smaller than in previous years.
Additionally, some Irish leaders have condemned de Blasio's long-delayed plan to ban horse carriages from city streets. Many of the carriage drivers are recent Irish immigrants.