Let me get this straight: if you're gay--and want people to know it--you can't march in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston in 2014.
But, if you're gay, you could get married here since 2004.
Can that be?
Yes, thanks to the United States Supreme Court.
In 1992 and 1993 gay advocates won the right in Massachusetts State Court to be in the parade, over protests from the parade's private organizers, who wanted to exclude them.
In 1994 the parade was canceled as the case went to the nation's highest court. In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that private parade organizers have a constitutional right to ban anyone they want to .
So what's your instinct? To find out, we went to two towns that have their own holiday parades; Stoneham, where's there's a parade every Memorial Day,and Marlborough, where's there's been a July 4th parade since 1952.
We also connected on social media using skype and facetime. You contacted us from everywhere, including South Boston:
Frank Taverna from South Boston said, "If they do march, they don't have to hold up signs. We should not have to see that."
Andy Hiller asked, "Do you mean that you do not think that gays should march in the parade?"
Hiller: "What problem do they cause?"
Taverna: "I think they would probably cause negative reactions, and a lot of things could happen.
Robert Morris from South Boston said, "I don't see it's a problem. I'm sure there's a lot of people who are marching, who are gay - a lot of people who are marching are not gay."
Hiller: "What does it do to the reputation of South Boston that this debate is going on around that parade."
Morris: "I think a lot of people will think it's laughable. Laughable in this day and age."
Enrique Sanchez from Worcester said, "I myself am going to represent gays. I think they should not be banned from the parade."
Hiller: "Are you gay?"
Sanchez: "No. I know a lot of people and it's unfair to them. If it's going to be in public land, then anybody should be allowed to enter."
Marlboro also reflected the division of opinion the South Boston parade triggers.
Steve Grueposo from Marlboro said, "You know, we have a lot of kids and people come to the parade, so it shouldn't be anything extremely controversial, I wouldn't think."
Hiller: "How is it that parades have become controversial?
Grueposo: "Because some people have an agenda that's beyond what it should be.
Scott Duane also from Marlboro said, "I think whatever town a parade might be in should have a say in it. "
Hiller: "So if you gave a parade, if you organized a parade, could everybody be in it?"
Duane: "Me personally, yes."
Hiller: "There's no group you would exclude?"
Hiller: "How about the KKK?"
Duane: "That's where it gets sticky again, right? I really can't answer that and that's why I don't put on parades."
But, in Stoneham, all the people we talked too shared the same opinion.
Lori Weinstein Amentola from Stoneham said, "It's kind of sad, because all those groups, and all those organizations, yeah, the gay and lesbian groups, they're part of that community. It's their town, and they want to be represented in a parade."
Hiller: "Then what rights do the organizers have?"
Weinstein Amentola: "It's probably time to go back, look at the drawing board and kind of look at the intent of what a parade is all about."
Hiller asked, "What if a parade organizer wanted not to have somebody march?"
Heather Norden of Stoneham said, " "Then they shouldn't be the parade organizer."
Hiller: "So, if you put on a parade…"
Hiller: "… what if you didn't want everybody to be in it?"
Norden: "Then that's my problem."
Times have changed, and my instinct is this may be the last parade in South Boston when any group is excluded.
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