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Catholic League won't march in St. Patrick's Day parade

The Catholic League said it will not participate in the city's St. Patrick's Day parade next March because anti-abortion groups are not permitted under their own banner, the group's president said yesterday.

The organization's decision comes a week after parade officials agreed for the first time to allow LGBT groups to march under their own banner.

Bill Donohue, the Catholic League president, criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council for not marching in last spring's parade because of its previous ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

In a statement yesterday, Donohue said that since LGBT groups can march under their own banners, anti-abortion groups should have the same right.

Donohue said he talked with the parade organizers to change the rules and allow an anti-abortion group to walk with its own banner. He said organizers initially agreed but later changed their minds.

Bill O'Reilly, a spokesman for the parade, said news of the Catholic League's decision is "disappointing and the Catholic League will always be welcomed in the parade."

Officials with the Archdiocese of New York were not available for comment yesterday.

Last week, the celebration's administrators said they would allow OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT group associated with the entertainment and media company, to march under its own banner in next year's parade.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the parade's grand marshal, said he had no problem with the decision and welcomed the group.

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