This mayoral boycott is the first in decades. And, even though Bloomberg was a supporter of same-sex rights, he still marched in the seminal NYC event. De Blasio said in a statement, "I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city, but I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade." Indeed, even before he was mayor, de Blasio participated in the alternative St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens, which is renowned for welcoming the gay community.
In response to de Blasio's decision, Catholic League president Bill Donohue said he's happy to hear of the mayor's decision: "I lead the Catholic League contingent every year, and I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics."
Of course, de Blasio has stated that city workers in uniform can march in the parade if they'd like, saying it's their right to participate if they choose.
The mayor's decision to sit out such a major event is a bold one, to be sure. But, it's also enough to make us pause. In a city that celebrates Irish culture at every turn, it's easy to forget the religious undertones of an event such as the parade. And, with those religious undertones, comes a disapproval of the gay community. So, though "de Blasio's New York" has been a fairly negative assessment, it's a perfect opportunity for the phrase to take on a positive connotation. (ABC)