Maureen Dahill, a state Senate candidate from South Boston, on Friday called for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade in her neighborhood to include gay and lesbian groups. The candidate from Dorchester, state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, agreed, saying in a statement she will march on March 17 with supporters from the gay and lesbian community if the groups are included.
Allowing gay and lesbian groups to march in the parade is an issue that has cropped up repeatedly in Boston politics after a 1995 Supreme Court ruling said parade’s organizers are allowed to choose the groups that can march. The Allied War Veterans Council puts together the annual parade.
“St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and I think it’s time we move past what happened in the 90s,” said Dahill, a South Boston native running for former state Sen. Jack Hart’s First Suffolk District seat. The district includes Dorchester, Mattapan, South Boston and a portion of Hyde Park.
“This is a perfect time to show how inclusive South Boston actually is,” she said. “There are two sets of parades and why not include the gay and lesbian community in this parade?” she added, pointing to a separate parade organized by peace activists.
In a campaign release sent Friday afternoon, Dahill also encouraged her fellow candidates and South Boston politicians to join in her call, including state Reps. Forry and Nick Collins, who are also running for Hart’s seat, and Congressman Stephen Lynch, District 2 Councillor Bill Linehan. Rep. Forry is the wife of Reporter editor and publisher Bill Forry.
Rep. Forry, who was endorsed last week by MassEquality, a gay rights advocacy group, sent out her own statement on Friday. “I am pleased to join fellow candidate Maureen Dahill in calling upon parade organizers to accept the application of gay and lesbian groups to have an opportunity to march in this year's Evacuation Day/St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston,” she said. “For too long, our sisters and brothers and friends in the LGBT community have been told they are not welcome to join in the celebration.”
Rep. Forry, who has not participated in past parades because they didn’t include gay and lesbian groups, called South Boston a “welcoming and vibrant community,” with a majority of residents who would support the inclusion of the groups. Her camp said she would be marching in the parade, later clarifying and saying she will march only if the parade committee includes the groups.
The state Senate primary is set for April 30, with the general election scheduled for May 28. Former state Sen. Hart resigned last month, taking a job at a Boston law firm.
While Republican Joseph Ureneck has pulled nomination papers, the Democratic primary will likely be determinative in the deeply blue district.