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Guinness Drops Sponsorship of St. Patrick's Day Parade

By Mathew Katz | March 16, 2014 9:12pm
 Guinness announced it was dropping sponsorship of Monday's St. Patrick's Day parade.
Guinness announced it was dropping sponsorship of Monday's St. Patrick's Day parade.
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Shutterstock/Derek Hatfield

MIDTOWN — The city's St. Patrick's Day Parade is running out of friends, fast.

Guinness, the Irish beer giant synonymous with the holiday, announced it was dropping its sponsorship of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade because participants are not allowed to identify themselves as LGBT marchers.

"Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all," the company said in a statement. "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 As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.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."

On Friday, Heineken announced it would drop its sponsorship of the parade because of the anti-gay policy, and the Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams, withdrew support of Boston's parade as well.

The Stonewall Inn, a iconic spot for the LGBT community, had planned to stop selling Guinness on Monday to protest the company's sponsorship of the parade. With Guinness' decision, it will now serve the beer.

Gay advocacy group GLAAD, which had pressured parade sponsors to drop out, praised the move

"Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated," said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. "As a gay mom who has fond memories of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade, it saddens me that I can't give those same memories to my own kids because my family isn't welcome. Hopefully, as parade organizers realize that anti-LGBT discrimination is not supported by sponsors, or many Irish New Yorkers, they'll see that families like mine should be part of the celebration."

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council both said they would boycott the parade because of its policy against LGBT groups. Officials instead marched in the LGBT-friendly St. Pat's for All parade on March 2. 

The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. on Monday at West 44th Street and Fifth Avenue.