Holyoke welcomes gay St. Patrick’s Parade marchers

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The controversy surrounding gay marchers in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade has made its way here to western Massachusetts. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse has taken a stand, and opened his city to gay marchers.

Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers say although they’ll allow gay marchers in the parade, they cannot express their sexual orientation in any form.  Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse today invited the gay community who wanted to march in Boston, to instead march in Holyoke, where they could do so freely.

“What a great opportunity to send a message nationally that we respect our Irish heritage, we respect everyone’s heritage and we want to be inclusive of everyone in the community,” said Morse.

Mayor Morse also invited New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as Boston Mayor Martin Walsh to march in the Holyoke parade.

“It’s nice that somebody is standing up for the people that don’t have as much of a voice, sometimes so yeah it’s admirable that he’s doing that ,” said Hannah Powers of Chicopee.

Mayor Walsh has been working to protest the idea that gays should be banned from Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It seems his hard work has finally paid off. Organizers tell us they’ve loosened the ban on gay marchers in the parade.

According to a marriage equality group, gay military marchers will be part of the parade. However, they will not be able to carry signs or banners that call attention to their sexual orientation.   Some residents agree with that stipulation.

“They have to go along with what Saint Patrick is, what St. Patrick’s day is about, not about themselves, their issues or whether they’re gay or lesbian. That has nothing to do with the St. Patrick’s day parade,” said Arline Ely of West Springfield.

Even though gay marchers will not be allowed to openly participate in Boston, Mayor Morse has encouraged them to take part in the Holyoke parade, where they can express themselves freely.

Mayor Morse has not yet heard back from Mayor Walsh in Boston, but Mayor de Blasio has asked for more information on how to get involved.

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