BOSTON (AP) — The city’s annual Veterans Day parade will include a group representing LGBT military veterans for the first time.
OutVets, a recently-formed nonpartisan and nonpolitical group based in Boston, expects between 10 to 30 people to march Tuesday in matching polo shirts and baseball caps. The downtown parade covers Boston Common and passes City Hall and historic Faneuil Hall.
OutVets spokesman Ryan McGill said the Suffolk County Council of the American Legion, which coordinates the parade with the city, has embraced the group with “open arms and strong support.” OutVets seeks to promote awareness about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender armed service members and their families. It also hopes to build a memorial honoring their service.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, gay service members and veterans are playing on a more level playing field,” Bryan Bishop, the group’s founder, said in a statement. “And it is time we recognize those individuals who not only served under fire in a war or conflict but simultaneously fought a war of ideals with the very nation they were fighting, and in some cases dying, to protect.”
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh called OutVets’ participation a “groundbreaking historical moment.”
The Veterans Day parade’s acceptance of the group stands in contrast to the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade, whose private organizers have blocked gay groups from marching for years, a controversial decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995. The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes that parade, has said allowing gays and lesbians to march would hurt the parade’s “family-friendly” atmosphere.
“Boston is an inclusive community where everyone deserves to live, work, and play,” Walsh said in a statement. “I commend OutVets and their efforts to ensure that the hard work of LGBTQ veterans are recognized and honored in our City.”