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Gays Plan Protest March After Judge Refuses To Put Them in Parade

March 16, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal judge refused Monday to order St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers to accept a homosexual group in the event, but the gays said they’ll be on Fifth Avenue anyway - to demonstrate.

″We’re not going to go away,″ said Paul O’Dwyer, spokesman for the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization. ″We’re going to keep fighting.″

Members planned a symbolic march past the reviewing stands one hour before the 231st annual parade begins Tuesday.

″I think the entire lesbian and gay community is going to be coming out with us,″ O’Dwyer said.

The event, the world’s largest parade to honor Ireland’s patron saint, is sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The Hibernians, a Catholic fraternal group, had threatened to call it off rather than let the homosexual organization march as a separate unit.

The Hibernians said letting gays march under their own banner would be an affront to the Catholic Church’s stance against homosexuality.

The gay organization maintains the parade is a public forum and their free speech rights are being violated.

Police planned to have 300 to 400 more officers on duty Tuesday than last year - more than 3,000 in all, said Chief of Department David Scott.

″If in fact they want to demonstrate, we will attempt to accommodate them,″ he said of the gay group. ″We have contingency plans depending on what transpires.″

Police expect 2 million people to watch Tuesday’s parade, but organizers said they were afraid rumors of disruptions by the gay group or more radical ones might keep some spectators away.

″ILGO had their day in court,″ said Kevin Marrinan, an attorney for the Hibernians. ″We would hope that they’d abide by the judges’ decisions and not try to ruin the parade.″

Homosexuals allowed to march Sunday in Boston’s parade under court order were given police escorts but were showered with cans and insults.

U.S. District Judge Pierre Leval apparently closed the New York homosexual group’s last legal chance for getting into Tuesday’s parade.

Leval said the group could not be bumped ahead of others on the parade waiting list, regardless of any alleged discrimination.

Unlike the Boston parade, the New York parade gets no direct government support, aside from services such as traffic control and police protection.

Last Friday, a judge for the city Human Rights Commission found the Hibernians had discriminated by placing the group on a waiting list with the intention of never letting it march. But she said the First Amendment gave the Hibernians the right to exclude the group.

An appeal of that decision was not expected for weeks.

Clare O’Brien, an attorney for the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, said it would not appeal Leval’s ruling. But the group still intends to go to trial to decide the question for future years, she added.

Mayor David Dinkins and about 20 other politicians have said they would boycott the march if the group were excluded. Dinkins will not march in the homosexuals’ protest either, mayoral spokesman Leland Jones said.

Other officeholders said they will march in the parade as usual.

The controversy in Boston was settled last week when a judge ruled a gay Irish group had a constitutional right to march, mainly because the $8,000 the city gave to organizers made it a public parade.

About two dozen members of the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Pride Committee were showered Sunday with beer cans and obscenities as they marched under their own banner.

Mounted police acted as a buffer between the marchers and the crowd of about 600,000.

Eight people were arrested, at least three on charges of taunting the gay marchers, police said. No injuries were reported.

No such disputes marred San Francisco’s annual St. Patrick’s parade, which drew 20,000 spectators. ″Gay people have no problem here,″ said parade director Renie Champagne of the United Irish Societies of San Francisco.

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