Holyoke mayor discusses gay rights group's parade invitation - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Holyoke mayor discusses gay rights group's parade invitation

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After being told they could not march in Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade, the group MassEquality has an invite to march in Holyoke's parade.

Mayor Alex Morse said he wants his city to be able to share a message with the country and beyond.

"What an opportunity for the city of Holyoke to send a message about fairness and inclusion," said Morse.

Wednesday, Morse reached out to MassEquality.

He wants that group to have a chance to march in Holyoke's parade, the second largest in the entire country after New York City, which has also banned LGBT groups from participating.

"Given the significance of the cultural event here in Holyoke, it has no room for discrimination," Morse stated. "It's a day to celebrate. It's a day to be proud of the city of Holyoke. There's nothing proud about discriminating, be it in New York City, Boston or here in the city of Holyoke."

Morse, who is gay, said this situation is about more than just a once-a-year event.

"It's being excluded from a parade, but it shows a much larger message of discrimination to people of all backgrounds, LGBT identified or not, that we still have a ways to go in having fairness and equality in our cities," said Morse.

CBS 3 reached out to MassEquality on Thursday about the invite.

The group responded by saying, "We are very grateful to Mayor Morse for his invitation and including us in the parade, but we have to figure out logistics at this point."

Whether or not they take part, Morse said he wants that segment of the population represented.

"If MassEquality can't make it, we've already been in touch with the gay-straight alliance at Holyoke High School, for them to be represented at the parade," said Morse. "So either way, I think it's a great opportunity for Holyoke to send a message."

The Holyoke parade committee said the deadline for large groups to walk has passed, however, smaller sponsored groups can still march.

The Holyoke St. Patrick's Day parade is scheduled for Sunday, March 23.

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