Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday that he has been trying to broker a deal that would allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade next month in South Boston, a move that would potentially end a controversy festering for two decades.
A gay veterans group sponsored by MassEquality plans to submit an application to participate, Walsh said. He marched as recently as last year as a state representative, but now — as mayor — he said he will boycott if gay groups continue to be excluded.
“Equality comes first,” Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, said. “The fact that it’s 2014, I certainly hope we’re able to come to an understanding. It’s long overdue.”
Walsh’s support in the gay community played a pivotal role in last year’s mayor race, helping him gain traction in liberal neighborhoods beyond his Dorchester and South Boston base. In interviews, parade organizers scoffed at any suggestion of a compromise or opening the event to gay groups.
“No, definitely not,” said John “Wacko’’ Hurley, the longtime force behind the parade who won a unanimous 1995 Supreme Court victory sanctioning his right to exclude gay and lesbian groups. “Not when you have a 9-to-nothing decision in the Supreme Court of the United States. [Walsh is] not in a position to overturn that.”
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