New York split over gays' parade rights

NEW YORK'S Mayor, David Dinkins, has attracted the wrath of the Catholic Church and plunged the city's Irish community into turmoil by awarding the permit for this year's St Patrick's Day parade to a group willing to embrace gays.

The long-running controversy over gay participation in the parade boiled over last week when the Dinkins administration ruled that the group that has sponsored it for almost 150 years, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, should lose its permit because of its refusal to allow homosexuals to march.

On Sunday, Cardinal John O'Connor took to the pulpit at St Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan to denounce the Mayor, accusing him of breaching the traditional frontier between church and state by attempting to turn the parade from a religious spectacle into a political one.

The dispute, which is splitting Irish- Americans and embroiling all the city's political establishment, is likely to be resolved only in the courts over the coming weeks. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is specifically charging City Hall with flouting its First Amendment right to free association.

The Order has long held that allowing gay groups to march in the parade would contravene Catholic teaching against the homosexual lifestyle.

Mr Dinkins, through his Irish-American Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has awarded the permit to the St Patrick's Day Parade Committee, a group newly formed by liberal Irish-American allies of the Mayor. The group has confirmed it will allow any Irish-based organisation to take part and express their views with banners, including the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organisation.

The new policy would also allow groups sympathetic to the Irish Republican Army to participate. 'We will be encouraging people to be more active in terms of presenting viewpoints with regard to the partition of the north of Ireland,' Brian O'Dwyer, a member of the new committee, confirmed.

Addressing his weekly Mass, Cardinal O'Connor was blunt in his assault on Mr Dinkins. 'Do the Mayor and the Police Commissioner agree to his arbitrary transformation from the religious to the political? Will other religiously related activities become equally vulnerable to arbitrary politicisation in this land which boasts of its tradition of separation of church and state?'

The Cardinal's outburst prompted other city leaders to defend the Ancient Order of Hibernians. This week, the City Council speaker, Peter Vallone, cited a 1914 city ordinance that provides a permanent authorisation for city-centre marches with traditions stretching back beyond 1904. His contention that this also ensures an inviolable right to the Ancient Order to organise the march is disputed by the Mayor, however.

Gay rights activists, meanwhile, have turned their fire on Cardinal O'Connor, suggesting he is in breach of religious teaching by endorsing discrimination. 'It's remarkable that a religious leader should crusade for the right to discriminate against a class of people and then complain bitterly when it's not allowed,' Eileen Clancy of the Gay and Lesbian Organisation argued.

Mr Dinkins said he made the ruling in the hope that the arguments over gay inclusion which have marred the parade for several years, could be put to rest. But the risk now arises that the celebration may degenerate completely this year. The Cardinal has threatened to urge traditional participants, notably from schools in his archdiocese, to boycott the parade if the Ancient Order's permit is not reinstated.

In City Hall, meanwhile, officials are fearful that the fracas will result in two marches being held, one official with embarrassingly thin attendance, and the other non-official, sponsored by the Ancient Order and drawing the biggest crowds.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
News
people
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones