Nel's New Day

March 21, 2015

‘We Didn’t Know They Were Gay’

When two LGBT groups marched in Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, people hoped that bigotry and discrimination were dissipating. LGBT groups have been permitted in the parade, first organized in 1901, only during 1992 and 1993 because of a state court mandate. Outrage caused the parade to be cancelled in 1994 to keep LGBT groups from marching until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the LGBT groups could be excluded for a parade on Boston’s public streets.

The Allied War Veterans Council controls the St. Patrick’s Day Parade; that group is the sole authority for participants—and non-participants—in the celebration. The ruling of Hurley vs Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (1995) upheld the right of the Allied War Veterans Council to keep selected groups from marching.

After national headlines proclaimed that “Boston Parade Welcomes Two Gay Groups,” Brian R. Mahoney, commander of the Allied War Veterans, announced that they had been deceived and not really permitted LGBT groups to march. He published an op-ed in South Boston Today, a newspaper for which he is editor-in-chief, stating that the council “innocently believed” that the group Boston Pride was “an off-shoot of Boston Strong,” a slogan used after the Boston Marathon Bombing. Mahoney wrote:

“Any report that the Council voted on or even saw the application is either a misquote or complete fabrication.”

He also wrote:

“It was shocking and unauthorized … when they appeared at G (Street) and Broadway carrying 10-12 multicolored umbrellas that I would describe as rainbow even though I have been told they ‘technically’ were not rainbows…. I spoke again with this unit on the Kelly Bridge, inspected their banner, flags and two rainbow banners with a pot of gold and leprechauns and found no violation.”

Yet he claims that he had no idea that it was an LGBT group.

Chester Darling, the Andover attorney who won the landmark 9-0 Supreme Court decision that gave the council the right to exclude marchers who display gay rights banners, said he thought it was “unfortunate that this had to come up” because “now we’ve got another controversy going for next year.”

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch called Mahoney’s opinion piece “unfortunate.” The South Bostonian said of Boston Pride and the OutVets who marched for the first time this year:

“I participated in the parade and we were happy to have them. I think they were warmly received, I think that they were gracious in their own way, and I think it was a completely positive event and I don’t want anything now to take away from that.”

After someone pointed out that other marchers not associated with the two groups also carried umbrellas, Mahoney said:

“Well, how’s this — umbrellas of any sort are not allowed.

Although the LGBT veterans’ group managed to march, the group Veterans for Peace was barred from participation in the Boston parade. About Veterans for Peace, Mahoney said, “They’re a bunch of American weasels. A bunch of American phonies.”

Although Mahoney claimed that he knew nothing about an LGBT group marching in the Boston parade, Huffington Post reported in February that a Roman Catholic grammar school pulled out of the parade in protest of the decision to allow an LGBT veterans’ group to march. The article reported that Boston parade organizers said they would admit the OutVets group because its members were veterans.

Over a month before the event, Huffington Post announced the participation of OutVets in the Boston parade:

“The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which has long resisted the inclusion of gay groups and won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1995 upholding their right to ban them from the annual parade that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, voted 5-4 on Monday night to allow the group OutVets to march in the parade scheduled for March 15….

“’Mayor Walsh has been advocating for an inclusive parade for quite some time,’ spokeswoman Kate Norton said in a statement Tuesday. ‘We’re thrilled to hear that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council has decided to make the 2015 parade an inclusive event.’

“’OutVets is being allowed to participate because of their members’ military service, and sexual orientation was irrelevant in the vote,’ said Brian Mahoney, commander of the veterans council. ‘The parade is meant to honor veterans and Irish-American heritage, and OutVets met the criteria,’ he said.

“Lead organizer Philip Wuschke Jr. said the vote was illegal because there was no quorum. ‘I’m sending a letter to the commander saying he held an illegal meeting and an illegal vote,’ Wuschke said. “He did not follow the bylaws of the council.’

“Mahoney disputed that. ‘I feel safe in saying that last night’s vote was legal,’ he said.”

Mahoney has also been quoted as saying “who am I to judge?” when asked about the issue of sexual orientation.

Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, refused to attend last year because the Allied War Veterans refused to let the LGBT group MassEquality march. Other top Massachusetts politicians have for decades refused to participate in the parade because the exclusion of gay groups.

new york st patrickIn New York, Mayor Bill Blasio continued to boycott the St. Patrick’s Day parade because of its discrimination. Although one LGBT group, Out@NBCUniversal, was allowed to march, others were not. NBC is one of the biggest sponsors of the parade and “was prepared to drop its coverage unless a compromise that resulted in the inclusion of a gay group was brokered” with parade organizers, according to the Irish Voice. The LGBT group had no rainbows, just green sashes and a green banner. This year is the first time since the parade’s inception in 1762 that an LGBT group openly marched

Irish Queers, banned from the parade, protested the event at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. Allen Roskoff, a prominent gay rights activist president of the city’s Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, criticized both parade organizers and OUT@NBCUniversal saying that members “take care of their own within the corporation” and their participation is “totally disrespectful” of other LGBT persons.

irish queers 2015: The year that two LGBT groups marched in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade before being told it was a mistake, and one LGBT group marched in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because their employee threatened to pull its coverage for the event. Not even a baby step—just a crawl.

March 17, 2014

Move Parades to Inclusion

Parades are funny things—and I don’t mean ha, ha. Our town has an annual celebration of “Loyalty Days.” The holiday began on May 1 in 1921 in reaction to the Red Scare to replace National Workers Day, commemorating the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. It faded when World War II brought an uneasy truce with Russia but reemerged in 1958 during the Congressional legislative move toward nationalism and religious terms on government products such as “In God We Trust.”

Although Loyalty Days have largely disappeared throughout the United States, Long Beach (CA) prides itself as “the longest consecutively running commemoration” of Loyalty Day in the country. The Veterans of Foreign Wars reorganized the event in 1950 as “a historically rich celebration of patriotism.” My small town will celebrate its 58th Loyalty Day festival this year, complete with car shows, Shriners on tricycles, and races. And of course, the parade.

Seven years ago, Newport Loyalty Days leaders decided that some veterans would not be allowed in the parade. Lincoln County (Oregon) Democrats had invited the Veterans for Peace Squadron 13 bus to march with them in the parade. Loyalty Days organizers had granted permission for the bus. When the veterans arrived, however, the county sheriff said that the bus could not be in the parade, and head organizer, Patty Louisiana, explained that the veterans message of peace “doesn’t support the spirit of our community.”

The “loyalty” theme did permit soldiers marching in formation, military Humvees, and a sidewalk recruiters’ office.  Like other parades, taxpayer funds supply the police to control the proceedings. This particular parade closes down Highway 101, the only federal highway along the Oregon Coast, for several hours.

Yesterday, more parades in the country excluded the “undesirables.” Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but parades were in cities such as New York and Boston to collect as many people as possible on a Sunday. In some cities, LGBT people were excluded because of their “sexuality,” according to Taioasearch Enda Kenney, Ireland’s prime minister.

Parade organizers in Boston said that gay groups can march, but they can’t carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as LGBT.

This year’s parades were different. Beer, a stereotyped staple of the Irish community, withdrew their sponsorships, including the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams beer), Guinness, and Heineken. Although no Boston mayor has marched in that city’s parade since 1993 because of discrimination, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio also boycotted the parade for the same reason. He is the first mayor of the city in decades to refuse to march.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh opted out because a gay veterans groups was not permitted in the parade. “As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city,” he said.

Walsh also said:

 “The St. Patrick’s Day parade was born out of the celebration of Evacuation Day, a day set aside to recognize and honor our military and those brave Americans who have banded together for the sake of freedom. And so much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression.”

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to recognize same-sex marriage, but the parade continues to discriminate against the LGBT community—even the veterans. The history of discrimination in New York goes back over 20 years when the parade organizers claimed that they had too many applicants but would share who they are.

The Chicago parade has permitted LGBT groups since the 1990s, and LGBT groups march openly in Dublin, Galway, and other Irish cities with no problem.

A smaller, but no less enthusiastic, crowd comes out for the St. Pats for All Parade in Queens. De Blasio spoke to the crowd: 

“This parade is what New York City is all about. This is a parade that celebrates inclusion, diversity, unity. That is what has made this city strong. A lot of times you have to start things in the direction of progressive values and start a process of change… and over time people take to it and understand it is the right way.”

human rights

pink banner LGBT

I am always amazed at the insistence of people who have been marginalized to discriminate against other segments of society.  When the Irish immigrated to the United States out of desperation following the Potato Famine in mid-19th century, they were rejected by many of the people already here. Media called them “white Negroes” and published drawings of ape-like images of Irish faces in their effort to show Irish as an “inferior race” as compared to Anglo-Saxons.

Irish were stereotyped as alcoholics, thieves, and pagans, the last because of their mythology and folklore. Many of them were physically attacked, and Irish accents would bar people from public houses and employment. Protestants in the United States tried to keep Catholics from public office in the “Know Nothing Movement” of the mid-1850s. Ministers and priests fought “intermarriage” between Catholics and Protestants. Signs of “Help Wanted – No Irish Need Apply” proliferated.

One float in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade promoted diversity and threw Mardi Gras-type beads. Parade creators will hopefully learn that diversity goes beyond party-time in New Orleans. Or perhaps they will remember that at one time their status in the United States was far lower than the LGBT community is today.

And on today, St. Patrick’s Day, let’s think about how a minority successfully integrated into the fabric of the United State. May it happen to everyone! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


[Update: A group of gay activists stealthily invaded the Boston parade with a pro-gay float bearing a rainbow cannon infiltrated the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade with a group of 30 marchers, the majority of whom were gay men. The marchers themselves reportedly brought roughly 500 pairs of green and rainbow color beads that were tossed to spectators in the crowd. Evidently that was the float earlier that passed the application process by describing itself as a “diversity float.”]


September 1, 2013

Freedom from Religion Looking Up

This sign made me laugh out loud; I still smile when I look at it. From St. John’s Anglican Church in Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada): “Jesus had two dads and he turned out just fine!” The photo got over a million hits in its first two days of posting.

two dads

Down under in the tiny town of Gosford (Australia), the Anglican Parish church leader Father Rod Bower created this sign: “Dear Christians, some people are gay, get over it, Love God.” Nearby New Zealand has legalized gay marriage, and the Parliament made be considering a similar action in New South Wales, Australia. 


Bumper stickers also have a certain wry humor. Two examples:

  • Religion: You can’t start a war without it.
  • Thank God for the secular United States.

Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert missed the “secular.” The man who pushed through the anti-abortion bill at “heartbeat” over the governor’s veto, said that he ignores the will of his 80,000 constituents because “there’s only one vote that matters and that’s when I stand before the Lord at the judgment seat.”

Religious leaders might think that their god had a vote at the Kentucky-supported Creation Museum that purports people lived at the same time as dinosaurs. An employee was struck by lightning last month while getting guests to leave a zip line attraction during a thunderstorm. The 1,700 feet of cable suspended 150 feet above the ground were put into the museum last spring because the entertainment facility was losing customers.

After raging against the Supreme Court’s ruling against DOMA, Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins has explained that this decision is no big deal—that SCOTUS didn’t really help marriage equality.  “[It] “only struck down Section 3 of the law: this means people in same-sex ‘marriages’ who live in states that allow it, can receive federal marriage benefits–technically, once you get beyond the bluster of Justice Kennedy, the ruling accomplishes nothing more.”

Here are some samples of the “nothing more.” The IRS is extending federal tax benefits to all same-sex married couples no matter which state sanctifies the ceremony. A federal judge struck down the VA’s decision not to provide benefits to same-sex couples. Six counties in New Mexico are legally providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the Pennsylvania AG won’t stop one of the state’s counties from doing the same thing. And that’s in just two months after the downfall of DOMA.

Televangelist Pat Robertson has finally said something so outrageous that his own Christian Broadcasting Network edited the episode out of their program. According to the host of 700 Club, gay men in cities such as San Francisco have special rings that cut people when shaking hands in order to spread HIV/AIDS. Robertson said he “regret[s] that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said. In no wise [sic] were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.” There is no evidence for his outrageous malignant remarks.

People on Facebook may see less vitriolic comments today because of  a proposed boycott. Conservatives claim that they have been “unfairly targeted” by Facebook that supposedly blocked their accounts and censored them when they were “simply expressing their beliefs.” Some of the “blocked” statements were a hit list of liberal politicians to be executed, threats on the life of the president, and people who want unfettered ownership of guns promising to kill anyone who might thwart their wishes.

Conservatives’ approaches toward debating is swearing at people, calling them names, spamming accounts, trolling pages, and being otherwise annoying until complaints force Facebook to enforce its policy against bullying and harassment. Last July Fox News pundit, Todd Starnes, was banned from Facebook for such behavior—but only for 12 hours.

Hate Speech is against Facebook policy. That includes comparing the poor to animals (although Iowa’s GOP Rep. Steve King gets away with it), using crude racist language for the President of the United States, emitting hate toward liberals, Muslims, immigrants, women, LGBT people, et cetera.  The boycott will be welcome; too bad it won’t last longer.

Bradlee Dean is a continuing example of hate speech. Last week, he claimed that homosexuals are responsible for half the murders committee in large cities, citing John Martagh as his source. The quote actually comes from a 1992 newspaper column by an evangelist who never gave any evidence for his crazy assertion.

Another smear campaign is directed at Daniel Hernanez, an elected member of the Sunnyside Unified School District in Pima County (AZ).  Four of the five board members are undergoing a recall, two for supporting the current school superintendent and the other two for opposing him.  A flyer used Hernandez’s photo and these words:

“Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board. Daniel Hernandez is LGBT. We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don’t need someone who hates our values. RECALL Daniel Hernandez TODAY.”

Hernandez was then-Rep. Gabby Giffords’ (D-AZ) intern and helped save her life after she was shot almost three years ago. His opponents need 1,300 signatures by December 14 to get the recall vote on the ballot. His opponent is blaming Hernandez for the flyers and said that the superintendent shouldn’t be judged on his financial and legal issues.

Evangelist Matt Pitt, 30, is now delivering his rousing messages from to young Christians from inside the county jail after being arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Authorities named the Alabama preacher an honorary sheriff’s deputy and gave him a badge and identification card. In June Pitt told a Birmingham resident that he actually was a deputy sheriff when he confiscated an abandoned rifle. A year earlier Pitt was arrested for using blue emergency lights to speed around other cars. He was recently ordered to take a drug screening.

The New Jersey changed its mind about a vanity license plate after the DMV received bad publicity. Despite the plethora of anti-abortion and pro-Christian license plates across the nation, David Silverman was refused a plate that said “ATHE1ST” because it was considered “offensive.” The day after he appealed and tweeted about the situation, the DMV reversed the ruling, blaming a “clerical error” for its refusal.

Another governmental entity also needs to change its position. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has been putting citizenship applications of Muslims on hold for years, according to an investigation by the ACLU of Southern California. The agency’s secret screening program of eligible, law-abiding immigrants from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities, called Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) was not approved by Congress. Yet since 2008, CARRP ordered immigration officials to deny applications on the basis of “national security concerns.” After lengthy periods of time, most applications are denied without explaining why.

An example is 50-year-old Tarek Hamdi, a legal resident who came to the United States as a teenager. Married to his college sweetheart, an American citizen, he has raised four daughters, worked for decades in the United States as a civil engineer, and paid taxes. Hamdi’s application for U.S. citizenship was rejected because of an annual tithing to an Islamic relief aid organization. The organization was charged with defrauding its contributors, but Hamdi’s application was reviewed for 11 years instead of the customary six months.

In 1952, Congress said in the Immigration and Nationality Act that “[t]he right of a person to become a naturalized citizen of the United States shall not be denied or abridged because of race,” thereby abolishing racism from the naturalization process.

Last week, I wrote about the tax-exempt status of U.S. religious organizations. On August. 19, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that a case presented by Freedom from Religion Foundation against church electioneering may proceed, and U.S. District Barbara Crabb gave FFRF standing in its lawsuit against exempting churches from annual accountability requirements.

In a third case, FFRF was given standing and is awaiting a decision over its challenge of the 1954 federal “parish exemption” law—uniquely gifting “ministers of the gospel” with the right to deduct church “housing allowances” from taxable income. This case is also before Judge Crabb. She wrote that FFRF has been injured:

“The government is relieving an ongoing burden from some taxpayers on the basis of religious affiliation. It is not plaintiffs’ belief’ that gives them standing. Rather, it is their status as organizations that are burdened with requirements not imposed on churches.”

All 501(c)(3) organizations except churches must file the expensive annual Form 990 with the IRS, publicly reporting on disposition of donations, financial oversight policies, salaries of top employees, fundraising versus mission or management, etc. Trying to shut up FFRF, the IRS offered them clergy tax breaks for leading an atheist organization. FFRF said thanks, but no thanks. They want transparency, not money.

The FFRF lawsuits will be interesting to follow.

jon stewart


August 19, 2013

GOP Alienates Everyone except White Males  Transparency is not the Republican National Committee’s strong suit, so it’s no surprise that much of last weekend’s Summer Meeting in Boston was closed to the public and press. Yet a few things slipped out, especially when Chair Reince Priebus wanted the publicity.

The main buzz was the unanimous approval of a resolution barring NBC News and CNN from hosting the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates after the news that the two networks may air Hillary Clinton documentaries. Fox isn’t included in the boycott because it reportedly bailed on participating in the production of these films. The resolution states that the RNC would not “partner with (CNN or NBC) in the 2016 presidential primary debates nor sanction any primary debates they sponsor.” The ban extends to NBC and CNN’s Spanish-language channels, Telmundo and CNN Espanol.

Another report indicates that the RNC will force networks to reject journalists for debate moderators and replace them with right-wing media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Such a decision would be in direct conflict with the RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” report issued last March: “The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

The RNC tried unsuccessfully to conceal its racist approach toward immigration reform from the most conservative members by highlighting charter members of the new GOP “Rising Stars” program—two women, a Latina state lawmaker, and an African-American state lawmaker. Priebus also said, “Using the word ‘self-deportation’–it’s a horrific comment to make. I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it’s racist.”

The GOP platform, however, advocates the policy in its opposition to “any forms of amnesty” for “illegal immigrants,” instead endorsing “humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily.”

A top speaker—behind closed doors—was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who supposedly urged GOP members to work toward winning elections rather than squabbling over ideology. “We are not a debating society,” Christie told the RNC luncheon. “We are a political operation that needs to win.” He has claimed that it’s too early to start running for the presidential election of 2016 while he positions himself for candidacy.

The squabble continued when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another presidential wannabe, responded through advisor Doug Stafford who said: “So if I translate Gov. Christie correctly, we shouldn’t be the party of ideas. We shouldn’t care what we stand for or even if we stand for anything. We reject that idea. Content-free so-called ‘pragmatism’ is the problem, not the solution.”

When Priebus announced the RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” report, he called it a “wake-up call” to court minorities and women. After the RNC meeting, a Politico op-ed piece listed the groups that the GOP has insisted on alienating since the last election and release of the report on how to not alienate these groups: Hispanics, through the House approach toward immigration reform; African-Americans, by responding offensively toward George Zimmerman’s exoneration for killing teenage Trayvon Martin; gays, with its opposition to rights for LGBT people in marriage and employment; and swing voters, by the GOP demonstrating that they are totally incapable of governing most recently with its threat of shutting down the country if they don’t get their own way.

The GOP shows that minorities don’t belong in the GOP “tent”:

  • Voted to deport DREAMers, a bill that would resume deportations for children brought to the United States without the knowledge that it was done illegally.
  • Suppressed minority votes by enacting laws deliberately designed to stop poor people and minorities from their constitutional right to vote.
  • Used dismissive and racist language including the statement from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) if people don’t want to be part of “the American race” that they should leave the country.
  • Reacted with insensitivity regarding the Martin killing with such comments as “get over it” [Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)], blame on President Obama for Zimmerman even standing trial [Rep. Steve King (R-IA)], and refusal to believe that “there is any particular evidence” of black voters being prevented from voting [Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)].
  • Tried to prove opposition of immigration reform using Jason Richwine’s report for Heritage Foundation that he based on his racist Ph.D. dissertation linking race and IQ.

The rabidly anti-LGBT agenda including spending millions of dollars to keep same-sex married couples from receiving federal benefits, preventing anti-discrimination laws in housing and jobs, working to reinstate anti-sodomy laws for only LGBT people, and trying to roll back the repeal of the military policy, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” that permitted service members to openly serve for almost two years.

Politico omitted a large constituency that the GOP continues to alienate—women. The GOP:

  • Fought insuring voters in 40 House votes to stop Obamacare and state laws to refuse federal Medicaid funding, action which inordinately affects women.
  • Opposed the Violence against Women Act, legislation that was first signed into law in 1994 and then twice reauthorized twice that faced great GOP resistance this past spring because it was “expanded to include other different groups,” according to Rep. Martha Blackburn (R-TN). “Different groups” were LGBT, Native American, and immigrant.
  • Defunded Planned Parenthood through federal bills and state laws, causing women to lose access to contraception, cancer screenings, and basic preventive care.
  • Passed anti-abortion legislation through hundreds of outrageous, unconstitutional laws that stop women from having any abortions, no matter what the reason. The House passed Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-AZ) abortion ban after 20 weeks, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced similar legislation.
  • Insulted women legislators, for example when Texas Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Greg Abbott (R) thanked a supporter on Twitter after he referred to state Sen. Wendy Davis as “Retard Barbie.”
  • Refused to recognize serious issues of sexual assault in the military through such offensive blame on pornography [Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)] and “the hormone level created by nature” [Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)].
  • Opposed free contraception through federal attempts to allow anyone to circumvent Obamacare on any flimsy “religious” reason.
  • Attacked working mothers by stating that the American education system  is “so mediocre” because of women who work outside the home [Gov. Phil Bryant (R-MS)].
  • Cut support for women and children in federal budget by eliminating foodstamps and a $758 million cut in WIC, a federal assistance program for low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five.
  • Fought equal pay for women in both states repealing equal pay and the House which rejected the Fair Pay Act.


After eliminating minority, female, and LGBT voters, the GOP is left with white men. At the rate that younger people are turning progressive, it’s actually left with older white men—and not all of those are conservative. By 2025, just 12 years from now, the largest age group in America will be those under 40 years of age. An interactive chart on this website shows the changes over the decades.


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