LGBT vets celebrate reversal of ban by Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers

Members of the LGBT veterans group OutVets celebrate the decision to include them in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

CBS Boston

BOSTON -- The LGBT veterans group OutVets will now march in South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade after a public battle over their inclusion in the event.

The group was initially barred from marching in the parade by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which voted to exclude OutVets over the use of the rainbow symbol, a sign of gay unity. 

Organizers reversed course Friday and said they will allow the group of gay veterans to march. In an 11-0 vote, the council extended an official invitation to OutVets.

CBS Boston asked OutVets members what the decision means to them.

“We are not gay veterans. We are veterans who happen to be part of the LGBT community,” OutVets’ Bryan Bishop said.

Bishop smiled as he talked about marching in the March 19 parade.

“Full inclusion is just wonderful, just wonderful,” Randy Carelli, an OutVets member, said.

It was not the first time there was friction and many public leaders had enough, holding a special meeting with the council Friday night.

“They wanted to send an important powerful message that we treat everyone with respect and dignity,” Allied Veterans Council member Ed Flynn said Friday.

“I feel it’s a true testament to Boston wanting to be an inclusive city,” Bryan Bishop said.

The Allied War Veterans Council is already working on involving the community more in the process so everyone can march on.

“The community after two years of being in the parade said we’re not going back we’re going forward,” Bishop said.

Several officials had promised to boycott the event before Friday’s vote. Dan Magoon, the chief marshal of the parade, said last week he wouldn’t participate this year if OutVets was excluded.

But Magoon said Monday that he’s back on board. In addition to resuming the ceremonial role, he will march on Sunday.

Magoon, a South Boston native and Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, says allowing OutVets to march creates a “promising future.”