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Keller @ Large: Symbols Of Progress In South Boston

BOSTON (CBS) - A second gay rights group will march in South Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade. This is the first year the gay community has been represented in the annual march, after years of resistance from parade organizers who took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller says the decision is a sign of how much Southie has changed.

On Friday, South Boston State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry was warming up for her second year as host of the St. Patrick's Day breakfast and celebrating how her acceptance and that of the gay parade marchers, reflects the tolerance of a community once known for intolerance.

Linda Dorcena Forry
State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry (D) (WBZ-TV)

"This is a changed community," Sen. Forry says. "South Boston is an incredible place where people are raising their families, where people have been for generations. The issues that people are facing in South Boston are the issues people are dealing with in Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park."

For Sylvain Bruni and his colleagues at Boston Pride, sponsors of Boston's long-running annual Gay Pride March, their parade permit and Senator Forry's command of the breakfast are tangible symbols of progress.

"South Boston is very LGBT friendly and we are happy to demonstrate that this year," Bruni said. "I think South Boston is way more diverse than it's ever been in the past, and these changes actually do reflect those changes, the fact that everybody is very accepting."

And as these social barriers fall, you wonder - what's next?

"We've got an elected official of color hosting the breakfast, we've got gay groups marching in the parade. What's next - pate instead of corned beef?" Keller asked Senator Forry.

"Whoa, I love it, wow pate! Good job," Sen. Forry responded. "Maybe some collard greens!"

A spokesman for the South Boston Allied War Vets Council, which runs the parade, tells WBZ the vote to admit Boston Pride was unanimous.

And Sylain Bruni of Boston Pride says their first call after learning of their acceptance was to Angela Menino, widow of the late Mayor Tom Menino who boycotted the parade for years in protest of the exclusion of gay marchers.

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