NEW YORK (AP) – Organizers have chosen a second LGBT group to march in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade next year.
The parade’s board of directors announced Sept. 29 that it has selected the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender group called The Lavender & Green Alliance.
The group joins Out(at)NBC, which this year became the first gay group to march in the parade’s history. The organization has been invited to participate again in 2016.
The parade’s organizers previously announced plans to open its ranks to more gay groups.
For years, organizers said that gay people were welcome to march, but that signs or buttons celebrating their sexual identities would detract from the parade’s focus on honoring Irish heritage.
Irish gay advocates sued in the early 1990s. Judges said the parade organizers had a First Amendment right to choose participants in their event. In the ensuing years, gay activists protested along the parade route, and some politicians declined to participate.
“We are working with the government of Ireland in this anniversary year to teach our young people the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit,” board Chairman John L. Lahey said in a statement.
“Since 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, considered the birth of Irish independence,” said Lahey, the parade on March 17 “is a special opportunity for renewed commitment to Irish values and traditions, and the Irish role in the 21st century.”
The board also voted to renew the parade broadcast contract with longtime partner WNBC-TV.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said the mayor will review the proposed changes.
“Mayor Bill de Blasio has always called for as much inclusiveness as possible,” said Karen Hinton.