Anheuser-Busch may skip Boston’s St. Patrick’s parade
NEW YORK — Anheuser-Busch may withdraw its sponsorship of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade this year to protest the exclusion of a gay veterans group.
The move comes after organizers refused to allow OutVets, a group that honors LGBTQ veterans and active service members, to march in the South Boston parade on March 19, two days after St. Patrick’s Day.
Anheuser-Busch’s distributor in the Boston area has a “Luck of the Irish” sponsorship and the Budweiser Clydesdales were set to participate in the march. Now they may not.
“We are disappointed to learn that the OutVets, who have proudly served this country, have been denied entry,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement. “We are re-evaluating our participation in this event.”
WBZ in Boston reported that Stop & Shop also withdrew its sponsorship Wednesday. The grocery chain could not be immediately reached for comment.
In previous years, the parade prohibited sexual orientation from being displayed, so LGBTQ groups couldn’t march openly.
Eventually the rule changed and OutVets has marched in the Boston parade for the past two years.
In 2015, OutVets had a prime spot and marched alongside a congressman and the Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs. But last year, OutVets was placed at the rear of the parade — “away from every other veterans’ organization,” according to a statement on the group’s Facebook page.
Many OutVets members “objected to this treatment and wanted to stand aside in protest.” But in the end, the group marched and chose to raise its objections with the organizers ahead of this year’s parade.
“We agreed that as an organization we were not there for our own benefit, but to honor those who had served and are still serving our country. So, we marched. We marched proudly,” the statement said.
OutVets said the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston, which organizes the parade, didn’t give a clear reason for excluding the group.
“Given the tenor of the council’s deliberations, one can assume it’s because we are LGBTQ,” the statement said.
The Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also responded to the news that OutVets had been excluded. He said he would not march until they were invited back.
Anheuser-Busch isn’t the first beer company to take a stand for LGBTQ inclusion in St. Patrick’s Day parades.
In 2014, Sam Adams pulled its sponsorship of Boston’s parade because LGBTQ groups couldn’t march openly. That same year, Guinness and Heineken pulled out of New York City’s parade for the same reason.
By Ahiza Garcia