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Banned Groups Plan Second Southie Parade

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WCVB-TV Boston 5 - The Boston Channel

Click Here for Video seen on WCVB-TV Wednesday night, March 16, at 11pm

On Sunday, the annual St. Patrick's Day parade will march through South Boston. It's festive, but controversial.

Gay groups were banned from marching in the parade in the 90's. This year, a group called Veterans for Peace was also banned. But they're not letting that rain on their very own parade.

When the St. Patrick's Day parade winds its way through South Boston, there will be echoes of another parade behind them: The St. Patrick's Peace Parade.

Veterans for Peace applied for a spot in the official parade back in January. But the application was denied by parade organizers. 

"When I asked why they didn't grant our application, they say they did not want to have the word peace associated with the word vets," said Pat Scanlon of Veterans For Peace. "I'm a Vietnam vet. I think that's an outrageous statement."

The group applied through the city for a separate permit. It was granted, so long as they started their parade an hour later, and a mile behind the first one.

"I was born on St. Patrick's Day," said Scanlon. "I suspect that if Saint Patrick was here today that he'd be walking with us."

The Allied War Veterans Council organize the parade.

"We're not that type of parade," said Phil Wuschke of the Council. He said he believed the men and women of the armed forces would be offended by anti-war signs.

It's not the first time parade organizers have rejected applicants. Sixteen years ago, they went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to win the right to block gay groups from marching. The court's decision gave the council the power to exclude anyone who they believed conveyed the wrong message.

"We have reached out to gay and lesbians and said you weren't allowed to march 16 years ago. You can march with us," said Scanlon.

A number of groups including Join The Impact Massachusetts will join Veterans for Peace in the march.

"For somebody working for equal rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, it's showing how the message of equality and peace has a resonance in 2011," said Ann Coleman of Join The Impact.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino has long boycotted the Southie St. Patrick's Day parade because of the ban on gay groups. The city had no comment for this story.