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New York mayor refuses to march in St. Patrick's Day parade over gay ban


New York's newly elected mayor is already walking away from one of the city's oldest traditions: The St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Bill de Blasio will become the first mayor in decades to sit out the March 17 amble along Fifth Avenue.

"I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city," said de Blasio on Tuesday during an unrelated press conference at City Hall. "But I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade."

De Blasio opposed a ban on gay pride signs or banners at the parade. The St. Patrick's Day Parade committee allows gay people to march, but argues that banners celebrating homosexuality would divert the parade's focus of honoring Irish heritage.

While both his predecessors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani participated in the parade, de Blasio did not march in the parade even when in the roll of public advocate, NBC New York  reported.

The Empire State Pride Agenda, a New York civil rights and advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers, commended the mayor's decision.

"New York City has long celebrated the myriad and colorful intersectionalities of our identities, and we’re a great city for that very reason. No LGBT New Yorker should be denied the opportunity to fly the colors of the Irish and Rainbow flags simultaneously, to proudly represent all aspects of our city's heritage,” the group’s executive director, Nathan M. Schaefer, said in a press release.

Meanwhile, the president of the city's Catholic League welcomed the move, somewhat ironically. 

"Personally, I am delighted," said Bill Donohue. "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."

De Blasio was raised Catholic but has said he does not belong to any church.

The mayor, a Democrat who campaigned on bringing more equality to the city, also said Tuesday that he won't heed activists' call to ban city workers from marching while wearing their uniforms.