New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was a little lighter this year because Guinness America, a long-time parade supporter, withdrew its sponsorship, citing the parade’s decision to bar LGBT groups from participating.
In a prepared statement, the company said: “Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”
Guinness wasn’t the only beer company that decided to give the parade a miss in support of the LGBT community. Heineken also withdrew from the NYC parade, expected to attract more than one million people, and Sam Adams skipped Sunday’s parade in Boston.
Parade policy forbids participants from identifying or displaying their sexual orientation. In a personal response to this, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio declined to participate in the parade, making him the first mayor in 20 years to skip it. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh also declined to march in that city’s parade yesterday.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis remarked, “Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: Discrimination should never be celebrated. As a gay mom who has fond memories of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, it saddens me that I can’t give those same memories to my own kids because my family isn’t welcome. Hopefully, as parade organizers realize that anti LGBT discrimination is not supported by sponsors, or many Irish New Yorkers, they’ll see that families like mine should be part of the celebration.”
With Guinness America out, Ford Motor Company remained the last American corporation active in today’s parade. In a statement, Ford said: “Ford Motor Company is involved in a wide range of events and organizations in communities across the country and around the world, including long-standing participation in this parade. No one person, group, or event reflects Ford’s views on every issue. What we can tell you is that Ford is proud of its inclusive policies. Every member of the Ford team is valued, and we provide employee benefits regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.”