Sam Adams, Heineken, and Guinness protest St. Patrick's Day parades

2012-03-16-irish-cocktails-and-green-beer-586x322Image via TableSpoon.com

St. Patrick’s Day while superficially is a celebration of Irish heritage and culture is really more a day of libatious celebration by way of debaucherous excess.  Millions of otherwise mild Americans flock to bar, pubs, and breweries to over consume beer, often with green food coloring added for that “authentic” Irish novelty.

Traditionally this is a day where everyone of all races, creeds, and backgrounds can celebrate.  On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is a bit Irish.  That is unless you are LGBT and live in two of America’s most fiercely proud Irish cities; New York and Boston.

It appears that the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers decided to forbid LGBT groups to march in the parade for St Patrick’s Day today.  It appears that as a result Sam Adams, brewed by parent company the Boston Beer Company has pulled support of the parade in protest arguing that the lack of inclusion of LGBT groups in the parade is unacceptable.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council is organizing the event and is claiming that LGBT groups/individuals are not barred from the event but that they are barred from displaying their sexual orientation.  That their guidelines prevent anyone from displaying sexual orientation.  The council has stated that gay veterans who wanted to march as part of an LGBT veterans group were welcome to march in the parade so long as they would not identify themselves as gay.  The council stated that, “we invite all to join us to celebrate this historic event, but we must maintain our guidelines to insure the enjoyment and public safety of our spectators.”

Clearly the Boston Beer Company found this line of justification inadequate.

In a similar move Heineken and Guinness have pulled its sponsorship from the New York City parade today as well.  Citing similar concerns about openly gay individuals and groups being barred from the parade.

The issue has expanded beyond corporate sponsorship to the point where mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh was working diligently over the weekend to convince the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council and the Boston Beer Company to come to terms.  Meanwhile fledgling New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is boycotting New York City’s parade entirely.

I adore that these beer brands are realizing that throwing their support, whether implicitly or explicitly behind organizers that are justifying censoring those whose are proud of being Irish and gay.  I think it is important that beer companies realize that a wide market of people want to drink their beer and not feel alienated by the traditional beer stereotype.

Yet I can see a counterpoint that the parade is supposed to be about Irish heritage not sexual orientation.

Do you agree with Heineken, Guinness, and Sam Adams?