To gay groups, St. Patrick’s parade ends an era of exclusion

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Members of the first openly gay group, OUT@NBCUniversal, make their way up 5th Avenue during New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2015 in New York City. Despite a policy shift that is allowing a gay group to march for the first time in the parade's history, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has refused to march in the city's parade. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off with hopes of closing a long chapter of controversy over including gays in the largest and oldest U.S. celebration of Irish heritage.

After allowing one gay group for the first time last year, organizers have opened the lineup more widely to include activists who protested the parade’s decades-long ban on displays of gay pride.

Thursday’s parade also honors the centennial of Ireland’s Easter Rising against British rule.

Parade board chairman John Lahey has said organizers aim to invoke what he calls “the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit.”

Until last year, organizers said gay people could participate but couldn’t carry signs or buttons celebrating their sexual identities.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.