For the first time, New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade, the biggest in the world, will allow a gay group to participate with a banner of its own, the AP reports. Previously, gay groups had only been allowed to join in combination with other groups, and their identification had to be kept quiet. "Organizers have diligently worked to keep politics—of any kind—out of the parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event. Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the parade," said parade planners.
The group, OUT@NBCUniversal, consists of workers for the network broadcasting the event; NBC had suggested it could scrap coverage if the policy regarding gay participants wasn't changed, IrishCentral notes. The Guinness beer company had also pulled its backing from the parade; the brewery's reps have been meeting with parade organizers on the issue, an insider tells the side. "Once an iconic company like Guinness showed it was standing up, pretty much everyone else had to follow," the source notes. Additional gay groups will be welcomed in the future, a parade rep says. The event is "remaining loyal to church teachings," organizers add, with parade grand marshal Cardinal Timothy Dolan backing the shift.