Saturday, September 13, 2014

Everybody loves a parade! (except Bill Donohue)

Man, pulling out is their
answer for everything...*
Brace yourselves municipal celebration fans, the Catholic League has pulled out of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade. Why? Because gay people. Oh yes, for the first time in the event's 253 year history, an LGBT organization, OUT@NBCUniversal, will be allowed to march. NBC is the network that broadcasts the parade, and OUT@NBCUniversal is their (cumbersomely acronymed) Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Straight Ally Employee Alliance or LGBTSAE. So while it's cool that a gay group will finally get to march, my enthusiasm is somewhat blunted by the fact that this particular one sounds like a glorified focus group tasked with finding new ways to get gay people to watch America's Got Talent. But whatever, it's still progress, right?

Anyway, the move upset Catholic League's president Bill Donohue, who insists that his issue isn't with an LGBT group participating, but rather with the event's organizers making an exception for them. Officially, organizations who espouse a political message aren't allowed to march, so why should OUT@NBCUniversal be allowed in while, say, a pro-life group would remain unwelcome?
"It's just not faaaaiir!"
-Bill Donohue, speaking from 
behind his official pouting desk
Also, nothing kills a festive atmosphere like
people calling each other baby-murderers.
Because shut up, that's why. The problem with Donohue's argument is that he assumes that being gay is the same thing as making a political statement, which ok, it's not. Pro-life organizations however, are political as they exist for the sole purpose of speaking out against a woman's right to choose. Wherever you come down on the issue, it's a matter of opinion, right? Some people are pro-life, some are pro-choice and no amount of sign waving at a parade is going to settle it. It's a contentious, emotional issue and for these reasons neither side of the issue gets to march.

Ok, so if there's no politics at the parade, how come Donohue's Catholic League has been allowed to march for all these years? Well, the Catholic League isn't out there endorsing any particular message. Sure, they're a religious group, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're political.
Above: A completely unrelated picture of Texas Governor Rick Perry
praying in front of a giant waving American flag. 
"Opposing discrimination? 
I don't know, sounds kinda gay..."
-Bill Donohue
The League was formed back in 1973 to defend "...the right of Catholics--lay and clergy alike-- to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination." So really they're an advocacy group, just like pretty much every LGBT organization ever. The line between advocacy and straight up political group is hazy, yeah, but I guess this is one of those times when we have to use our judgement. Is advocating fair and equal treatment the same thing as pushing a political agenda? Can't we all agree that everyone should be able to 'participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination'?

Who the hell is that,
some kind of Irish Santa?
Ok, so the truth is we probably can't all agree, and that sucks quite a bit. But what does any of this have to do with St. Patrick's Day parades and reenforcing negative Irish stereotypes? Here's what Bill has to say about it:

"...the parade is not about gays or abortion or anything other than St. Patrick."

-Bill Dono-wait, has he ever
even been to the parade?

I'm confused. Was St. Patrick a
leprechaun or an alcoholic?
Yeah, no. Sure, the parade has its roots in celebrating a Catholic saint but we're way past that now. For almost everybody, St. Patrick is an excuse to have a parade and the people that participate in it do so because they want to be a part of NYC's biggest celebration. The parade's organizers didn't lift their ban on politics, they just acknowledged that being gay isn't any more a political stance than being Catholic, and that you shouldn't write-off an entire community as a one-issue political group. But by dropping out of the parade, Bill Donohue made the Catholic League just that: a one-issue organization.

The shame here is that It would have been pretty cool to see the Catholic League marching along side an LGBT organization in common celebration of Ireland's patron saint of snake drowning. Too bad Donohue had to get all butt-hurt about it. Now, instead of 'participating in American public life' he'll be sitting at home, watching the parade on TV and harumphing over how the gays have ruined everything.
"First marriage, then professional sports and now your pitiful
St. Patrick's Day parade. Yes, everything is going to plan. Mwa ha ha!"



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