Boston's St. Pat's parade loses Sam Adams beer over anti-LGBT policy

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From the Sam Adams lineup.

The maker of Sam Adams beer withdrew its sponsorship of Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade because organizers exclude gay groups.

Boston Beer Co.'s decision came a day after a bar in Boston's South End said it would no longer serve Sam Adams beer because of the brewer's affiliation with the parade, which took place on Sunday.

Mayor Martin Walsh and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch had been trying to broker a deal that would have allowed a gay group to march, but those negotiations broke down.

"We were 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, Boston Beer Co. said in its statement before the parade. "We share these sentiments with Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and others and therefore we will not participate in this year's parade."

The brewer said it would continue to sponsor the annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast, which is regularly attended by most of the state's major politicians. That also was on Sunday.

A Boston Beer Co. spokeswoman did not immediately return a call.

The Irish-American mayor had said he would not march in the parade unless gay groups were allowed to march.

He tried to broker a deal between the gay rights advocacy group MassEquality and the organizers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. A 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that the council could include or exclude whichever groups it wanted.

A sticking point was MassEquality's request that its members be allowed to carry banners or signs identifying themselves as gay, which organizers did not want.

Organizers said they had been "misled," because LGBT Veterans for Equality, an affiliate of MassEquality, was not a recognized veterans' organization.

MassEquality released a statement in response to the failed negotiations, praising the mayor's decision to participate in the parade. The statement said, "It can be difficult for people who are not LGBT to understand how important it is for LGBT people to be able to be open and honest about who they are and how wounding it can be to be asked to be not too out. MassEquality had hoped that a small group of LGBT veterans that we work with would have been able to march behind their standard — a rainbow flag — and a banner identifying them as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans associated with MassEquality. That hope was informed by what many GLIB marchers told us would begin some healing of the wounds created by the harassment and violence they experienced when they marched openly decades ago."

MassEquality said the organizers of the parade were insistent that LGBT people had to hide their sexual orientation but "no other group is asked to march without a banner and their standard — not the police, firefighters, or the Irish. A double standard is the status quo and does not represent progress.

"While we are disappointed that we did not get to march this year as we had hoped, we thank the mayor for championing full inclusion all the way until the end. We are encouraged by today’s small step forward with the inclusion of a ‘diversity’ float, and we hope that it is a sign that next year applications from LGBT groups, like MassEquality, that wish to join the celebration of Irish heritage and the service and sacrifice of veterans, will be accepted on their own merits and the decades long ban can finally be lifted.”

The parade, one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the nation, draws as many as 1 million spectators to South Boston each year.