NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - The president of the Catholic League has called organizers of New York City's annual gay pride parade hypocrites for imposing rules on those wishing to march in the parade.
The spat between gay rights groups and the Catholic League began ahead of the 253rd annual New York City St. Patrick's Day parade on Monday.
For the first time, high-level officials like Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council refused to participate, citing the parade's stance banning marchers from holding banners or signs supporting gay rights.
Sponsors, including Guinness and Heineken, also backed out of the parade this year.
Following the St. Patrick's Day parade, Catholic League president Bill Donohue applied to march in the city's LGBT Pride March with a banner reading "Straight Is Great."
Donohue said his goal was to see how far he could push organizers before they announced their own rules for parade participants. Donohue, in a statement released Friday, explained his exchange with parade organizers:
"I informed Heritage of Pride officials that I objected to their rule requiring me to attend gay training sessions, or what they call 'information' sessions. 'I don't agree with your rule,' I said. They responded by saying that attendance was 'mandatory.'
"The St. Patrick's Day parade has mandatory rules, too. It bars groups representing their own cause from marching, which is why pro-life Catholics - not just gays - are barred from participating under their own banner. But only gays complain: they refuse to abide by the rules. Indeed, they went into federal court seeking to force a rule change. They lost. In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that private parades have a First Amendment right to determine their own rules," the statement went on.
"That's just the problem; you have mandatory rules that I don't like and the St. Patrick's Day parade has mandatory rules that you don't like. Hopefully, you'll get the point," Donohue told 1010 WINS of his conversation with parade organizers. "It's somewhat hypocritical of the gay activists to maintain that they're oppressed because they don't want to abide by the mandatory rules of the St. Patrick's Day parade and then they're insisting that I have to accept the rules. Their rules are not optional for me. They used the word mandatory."
Gay pride parade organizer David Studinski said he has no problem with Donohue's plan to participate in the June event.
Studinski said Donohue's presence affirms the parade's unity theme, according to Newsday.
The president and CEO of the gay-rights group GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, agrees. She even invited Donohue to march alongside her.
Donohue said he will not be attending the parade and will continue his boycott of Guinness.
The Pride March is set for June 29.
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