The Boston Beer Company, the brewery that makes Samuel Adams beer, has pulled its sponsorship of Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade amid concerns that parade organizers will not let groups express their homosexuality while marching in the event.
"We have been participating in the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade for nearly a decade and have also supported the St. Patrick's Day breakfast year after year," the company said in a statement Friday. "We've done so because of the rich history of the event and to support veterans who have done so much for this country."
The company went on to say that it was hoping the pro-LGBT group MassEquality and the organizers of this year's parade, Allied Veterans War Council, would have come to an agreement and let veterans express their gay orientation while marching in the parade. Parade organizers previously said that all veterans are welcome to march, but in order to maintain the true St. Patrick's Day spirit of the parade, they cannot express their homosexuality by wearing rainbow colors or carrying gay pride flags.
"We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible."
The brew company's decision comes one day after a local restaurant in Boston's South End neighborhood, the Club Cafe, said via Facebook that it would stop selling Samuel Adams beer because the company was sponsoring an event that would not allow blatant gay participation. The cafe said in a statement that it was "disappointed that Sam Adams does not understand that the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade continue to demonstrate that they do not respect LGBT Irish Americans by excluding LGBT members of this community from openly marching in the St.Patrick's Day Parade."
Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will take place this Sunday in South Boston, is considered to be one of the most well-known and historical St. Patrick's Day parades in the nation due to the city's large Irish-American population. Other St. Patrick's Day Parades, including the one set for New York City, have also suffered criticism from the LGBT community for not allowing gay flags, banners or other props to be present during the parade march. Organizers for these parades are private groups and maintain their right to keep the St. Patrick's Day spirit in their events without other distractions.
Sam Adams previously found itself in the middle of controversy in July 2013, when it omitted a reference to God while citing the Declaration of Independence in an Independence Day-themed commercial.
Instead of referencing the phrase "endowed by their Creator" as the original Declaration of Independence does, the commercial instead said, "All men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The commercial received a rash of criticism on social media, including the Samuel Adams Facebook page, by those who argued the company was being unpatriotic by failing to reference God in its commercial. The company later released a statement saying it was abiding by trade company regulations that say beer companies are advised not to make religious references in advertisements.