Staten Island St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off with controversy after rejecting LGBTQ+ groups again
NEW YORK -- Irish pride was on display near Forest Avenue, with hundreds gathering to watch Staten Island's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
The parade has been seeped in controversy over the years for not allowing LGBTQ+ groups to take part.
"Once again, we were denied an opportunity to march in the parade. Let me be very clear: this is discriminatory and vile," said Carol Bullock, executive director of the Pride Center.
Members of the Pride Center of Staten Island held their own march on Forest, joined by New York City political leaders, including Mayor Eric Adams.
"This discrimination sends a profoundly toxic message to every LGBTQIA, especially our youth," Bullock said.
"Prejudice hurts and kills, divides families, tears community apart," a spectator named Brendan said.
CBS2 tried to speak with Larry Cummings, president of the parade committee, to ask him why LGBTQ+ groups can't participate.
"Please get them out of my face," Cummings said.
MORE: CBS2 tries to ask Staten Island St. Patrick's Day Parade committee director about excluding LGBTQ+ groups
"When you are Irish, you are Irish," spectator Denise O'Hare said.
One couple, though, chose to come to the parade, but made sure their dog had his bow-tie Pride flag on.
"It is kind of a kick, but people are what they are. In this day and age, it's still hard to believe there is so much bigotry. It is in everything, color, sexuality," O'Hare said.
"I have said clearly that everyone should be included in this march, but I am not going to not participate and support my Irish constituents who love their culture and heritage," Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis said.
Malliotakis added she hopes things change next year.
This year's grand marshal, Martin Crimmins, chose to stay away from the controversy, but Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement, "The parade celebrates St. Patrick, not sexual orientation."
"We don't have a sexual orientation agenda," said Bullock. "We're a not-for-profit that does amazing work. We provide mental health counseling, we provide programming for seniors and youth."
Jody's Club Forest, which has hosted an annual breakfast for almost 30 years, did not participate this year, either.
"It's always been about the parade and now it's not about the parade," said Terence Haggerty, owner of Jody's Club Forest.
Haggerty remembered when the Staten Island parade drew huge crowds, but numbers have dwindled in recent years.
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