Beer companies protest exclusion of gays from parade technically celebrating Christian saint

Font Size:

In protest of the exclusion of openly gay groups in a parade for a holiday historically aimed at celebrating the Catholic patron saint of Ireland, Guinness USA has dropped its sponsorship of New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade,” the brewer said in a statement Sunday.

“As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.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,” it added.

Last week both Heineken and Sam Adams pulled their sponsorships from the New York City and Boston St. Patrick Day Parades, which prohibit LGBT groups from marching openly. Boston’s parade was Sunday, New York’s take place Monday.

“We believe in equality for all. We are no longer a sponsor of Monday’s parade,” Heineken said in a statement to CNBC.

The pro-gay rights group GLAAD cheered the recent Guinness announcement, noting that it had reached out to the sponsors of the parade as “part of our work to push for equality for LGBT people.”

“Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated,” GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

Ford Motor Company, according to GLADD, is the last major sponsor left for the New York City parade.

In addition to the beer companies, Mayor Bill de Blasio will become the first mayor in years not to participate in the parade due to the parade’s ban on marching with pro-gay signage. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also skipped his city’s parade due a failure to resolve the negotiations about the exclusion.

And while the mayors sit out, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is participating in New York’s parade.

“The St. Patrick’s Day parade is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality, and I would be happy to participate in it,” he said, according to Fox News.

Follow Caroline on Twitter