The decades-old controversy concerning the Saint Patrick's Day Parade is continuing for another year. Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will not march in the parade due to organizer policies against outward displays of gay pride. Josh Robin filed the following report.
A mayor marching up Fifth Avenue seems as much a Saint Patrick's day tradition as kilts and bagpipes.
But the 109th mayor?
"No, I'm not planning on marching in the parade, I haven't in the past,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio says that's because the parade leaders have long denied marching privileges to gay organizations. He didn't march as Public Advocate.
Depending who you asked, his refusal as mayor set of cheers of pride...
"I applaud the mayor on his decision,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.
And also cries of sacrilege.
"Certain things should not be political and this is one of them,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich of Queens.
The parade sponsors didn't return a request for comment.
Ulrich says the mayor should reconsider.
"Giuliani marched in the parade, Bloomberg marched in the parade, Mayor Koch certainly marched in the parade. I think every mayor has marched in this parade,” said Ulrich.
Not quite. Some years, politicians are as rare as a four-leaf clover. That's because many protest the parade's longstanding ban on an Irish gay and lesbian group joining.
Mayor David Dinkins didn't march in his final two years as mayor.
"I will not be able to lead the long green line up Fifth Avenue,” Dinkins said then.
Next month, you can still expect lines of city workers. Some say until the gay groups are permitted, they shouldn't be allowed to wear their uniforms.
"I think it should be revisited. I do think that a parade that discriminates against LBGT people, that that should be looked at again,” said Councilman Corey Johnson of Manhattan.
De Blasio had a different take.
"I respect the right of our city workers to march in uniform, period,” said de Blasio.
Opponents of the march point out that in some places at least, gay rights seems to be increasing, with greater legalization of same sex marriage and even the pope saying of gay people, who am I to judge?
"Times have changed, but the Hibernian Order is still living in the past, and my hope is that they'll on their own decide that this is not the way to treat New Yorkers,” said Johnson.