The New York City Council will not be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because gays can not wave the LGBT banner on this occasion. I’m curious about Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s decision to limit her outrage to the gay issue when she also might have insisted that marchers be allowed to wave banners about their support for abortion rights and universal insurance for birth control. As a New Yorker who is neither Irish nor Catholic, I wonder how the council which supposedly represents all New Yorkers became monolithically concerned about the feelings of the gay population, one which actually has its own designated parade. Of course, as Mayor de Blasio’s toady, Ms. Mark-Viverito made the ultimate obsequious choice, raising the ante one degree higher than her boss who declined to march himself but thought it was fine for city workers to march in uniform.
We have reached the nadir of the civil rights movement when people are reduced to being single-issue puppets instead of fully rounded human beings. Surely, if a gay man went to a wedding officiated by a Catholic priest, he would be able to restrain the need to initiate a debate over the church’s position on the subject of homosexuality. He would go as a friend, an employee or a family member - just three other identities he might possess that have nothing to do with his being gay. Similarly, each of us has a multitude of roles, causes, concerns and memberships which define who we are. It has taken more than a century of legislation, still ongoing, to abolish defining ourselves narrowly by race, creed or gender. Yet here we are in a polyglot city where people have enormous freedom for self-expression with a group of dissenters who insist that the Irish not be entitled to their separate moment of Irish pride, uncontaminated by political and controversial issues which have many other forums for public discussion. The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, named for an Irish-Catholic saint, deprives no one of the right to be who they are. It just asks that the celebration stay on the topic of Irish pride - not gay pride, not Puerto Rican pride, not Jewish, German or Italian pride - all of which have their own opportunities to celebrate their respective identities.
We’ll be watching what happens at the Gay Parade: will Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Mark-Viverito decline to march unless Catholics are allowed the freedom to carry banners proclaiming the church position on homosexuality? Just different strokes for different folks in the reign of identity-politics.
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