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Gay Group to March Under Banner in St. Patrick's Day Parade

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TWC News: Gay Group to March Under Banner in St. Patrick's Day Parade
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St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers say an openly gay group will be allowed to march under its own banner for the first time next year.

The parade has become a point of controversy in recent years when LGBT groups were prohibited from participating.

Organizers said they were trying to keep politics out of the St. Patrick's Day celebration, but the policy caused Guinness to drop out as a sponsor this year, and newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march.

On Wednesday, the parade committee announced its unanimous approval of the group -- OUT at NBC Universal -- to participate in the 2015 edition.

The group represents LGBT employees at NBC Universal, the same company that broadcasts the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Outside Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown, passersby who spoke with NY1 mostly expressed support for the change.

"I like that change, I think everybody has a right to express themselves, I have no problem with that," said one New Yorker.

"It's great news. Everybody should be able to stand up for what they want, and stand out and march, and enjoy their freedom," said another New Yorker.

In response to the news, Cardinal Timothy Dolan released a statement which reads, "The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee continues to have my confidence and support...[I] pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us."

The Irish Queers organization heavily protested this year's parade.

They released a statement saying, "We welcome this small victory, but our call remains the same -- the parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not 'in subsequent years' but now."

The change comes as Pope Francis has made statements that show he is more tolerant of gays and lesbians.

The Catholic League says gays technically have never been barred from the parade and hopes new entries to the parade will conduct themselves in a manner that honors Saint Patrick.

A committee spokesman says they will accept applications from other LGBT groups in future years.

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