Producers of the famous Irish dry stout Guinness say they are dropping their sponsorship of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade in light of the event's controversial stance on openly gay participants.
Representatives for GLAAD confirmed the news in an email to The Huffington Post, which included the following statement from a Guinness spokesperson:
Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.
Prior to the announcement, Stonewall Inn and other New York gay bars had been planning to boycott sales of Guinness over its sponsorship of the parade, according to Towleroad.
The company now follows in the footsteps of Heineken and Boston Beers (producers of the popular Sam Adams brand) to cite lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in their decision to sever funding of a St. Patrick's Day event.
On March 14, Boston Beer issued a statement through MassEquality, the organization pushing for the inclusion of gay veteran groups in Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade. A portion of that statement told consumers that Boston Beer previously remained hopeful that “both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.”
Heineken followed suit a day later by yanking its support of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade. "We believe in equality for all," a company representative is quoted by Reuters as saying. "We are no longer a sponsor of Monday's parade."
According to Reuters, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh opted out of his city's St. Patrick's Day parade, claiming it was part of his overall effort to "to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city." Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opted to join Queens' gay-friendly "St. Pat's For All" Parade, saying that parade celebrates inclusion, in lieu of Manhattan's, the Associated Press reported.
Still, the controversy has not been without its critics. Although they were quick to specify that they "don't have a problem with gay people," the owners of Boston's Cornerstone Pub said they were cutting off Sam Adams after the Boston Beer announcement because they felt it was a blow to U.S. veterans who value the company's monetary support of the annual parade.
Although LGBT participants are permitted in both Boston and New York's St. Patrick's Day parades, they are prohibited from carrying signs or banners identifying themselves as such.