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Mayor Bill De Blasio opts out of Saint Patrick’s Day parade over gay tensions

Controversy over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs

Controversy over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs is surrounding this year’s event.

NEW YORK - Mayor Bill De Blasio is the first mayor in decades to sit out the city's traditional St. Patrick's Day parade over a dispute involving whether participants can carry pro-gay signs. 

Boston's Mayor Martin Walsh also opted out of his city's parade Sunday after talks broke down that would have allowed a gay group to march. Parade organizers argued that they didn't want to the event to turn into a demonstration for a particular group. 

A few big-name businesses pulled their support from the New York City parade as well. Guinness and Heineken both dropped their sponsorships in response to the controversy. 

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito commended the companies for their stance on the issue saying, "These businesses are sending a clear message that New York's Saint Patrick's Day parade needs to be inclusive to all New Yorkers." 

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny still joined the procession, which headed down 5th Avenue in Manhattan, saying that the holiday is about Irishness, not sexuality.

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