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Gay army vets to walk in Patrick's Day parade

The organisers of Boston's annual St Patrick's Day parade voted to allow a group representing gay veterans to march next year, a dramatic turnaround for an organisation that has long resisted the inclusion of gays. The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which won a US Supreme Court decision in 1995 upholding their right to ban gay groups from the annual parade that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, voted 5-4 to allow the group OutVets to march in the parade. They will be allowed to carry a blue banner with five white stars representing the branches of the military, and six vertical rainbow stripes. OutVets represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans.


Bryan Bishop, OutVets founder and U.S. Air Force veteran, called the decision "awesome". "I think it's very significant," said Bishop, who works as chief of staff in Boston's Veterans Services department. "Ensuring that there is 100 percent inclusivity is important."

The group has about 50 to 60 members, but has no political or social agenda, he said.

OutVets is being allowed to march because of their military service, not sexual orientation, said veterans' council Commander Brian Mahoney.

The parade was in negotiations last year to allow the LGBT group MassEquality to march, but things fell apart at the last moment and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh boycotted the parade.