League fights on in Boston parade case

League files amicus brief

Justice Herbert P. Wilkins of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court let stand a lower court decision directing the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, sponsors of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, to allow a homosexual group to march in the parade this year.

The Catholic League filed a brief in support of the veterans, arguing that the central issue of the case was the question of the morality of homosexuality.

Superior Court Judge Hiller Zobel characterized the parade as a secular event, citing the fact that in addition to being the day commemorating St. Patrick, March 17 is the date that British troops left Boston in 1776. Because of this event the day is known in Boston as Evacuation Day.

According to the Boston Globe, although parade sponsors argued that the gay group is antithetical to the ethnic and religious components of the parade, Judge Zobel ruled that, historically, the parade has been a nonreligious, civic celebration. “The parade,” said Judge Zobel, “is in every rational sense a municiple celebration, a public festival.”

Judge Zobel noted that the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston marched peacefully in the parade last year and the judge imposed the same conditions on the gay pride group as last year.

Catholic League Executive Director Joe Doyle issued a strong statement in response to Judge Zobel’s ruling. “The parade is in honor of a Catholic saint in an overwhelmingly Catholic community. By this decision, Jodge Zobel will force Irish Catholics, while attempting to honor their patron saint, to accept those who scornfully reject Catholic belief and practice. Judge Zobel has chosen to impose part of the homosexual agenda on the people of South Boston.”

Doyle characterized the judge’s “Evacuation Day” argument as ludicrous. No one, Doyle said, says “Let’s go to the Evacuation Day parade!” According to Doyle, the Evacuation Day tie-in was a fiction from the beginning which allowed the Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and get around anti-Catholic prejudice which would have blocked a parade permit.

With state appeals in this matter exhausted, the parade sponsors turned to the Federal courts. The Catholic League, in this fight to the very end, joined in with an another amicus brief. These maneuvers were taking place just as we went to press. We will report on the outcome next month. Stay tuned.


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Written by Bill