Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover participated in Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Peace Parade in South Boston.
The “alternative, inclusive” peace parade follows the same route as that city’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Church members say that because the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade, organized by the Allied War Veterans Council, excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups from marching openly, as well as excluding Veterans For Peace “for associating the word “veteran” with the word “peace,” they have been participating in the alternative parade for the past three years.
“The Allied War Veterans Council is the group that organizes the traditional parade, and they say that their parade is meant to celebrate St. Patrick and Irish heritage and also to honor veterans. Now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is history, I can’t understand why they wouldn’t let an LGBT veterans group march openly,” Rev. Lara Hoke, the congregation’s minister, said in a release.
“The parade organizers also exclude Veterans For Peace in spite of their military service, which is doubly absurd in light of St. Patrick’s own words that ‘killing cannot be with Christ,’” said Hoke, who said the actions are personally felt by her as a U.S. Navy veteran and member of Veterans For Peace as well as openly lesbian individual.
Several members of Andover’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation, including Thea Shapiro, David Grober and Richard Hudak, together with Tewksbury resident Ethan Scarl, joined Hoke and her wife, Emily Ferrara, in marching in the parade as part of the Religious
Division. Merrimack Valley People for Peace, another local group, marched in the Peace Division.
Since 2011, the Boston chapter of Veterans For Peace has been working with local LGBT organizations and peace organizations as well as other progressive activists to organize the alternative and inclusive parade known as the St. Patrick’s Peace Parade.
Andover resident Pat Scanlon, coordinator of the local Veterans For Peace chapter and a primary parade organizer, said, “Our Peace Parade is not going away until we have one welcoming inclusive parade for all without censorship.”