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Catholic League's Bill Donohue Will Not Be Marching in NY Gay Pride Parade With 'Straight Is Great' Banner

Catholic League President Bill Donohue said that he will not be marching in New York City's gay pride parade with a "straight is great" banner as he initially requested, after objecting to the organizers' rules.

"For the past few days I have been engaged in an e-mail conversation with officials from the Heritage of Pride parade, New York's annual gay event; the dialogue has been cordial. I asked to join the parade under a banner that would read, "Straight is Great." The purpose of my request was to see just how far they would go without forcing me to abide by their rules. It didn't take long before they did," Donohue explained in a statement on Friday, following a request for comments by The Christian Post.

"Today, I informed Heritage of Pride officials that I objected to their rule requiring me to attend gay training sessions, or what they call 'information' sessions. 'I don't agree with your rule,' I said. They responded by saying that attendance was 'mandatory.'"

Donohue explained that just like the Heritage of Pride has its own rules, so does the St. Patrick's Day parade, which bars groups from marching under their own banner.

Last week, several sponsors pulled out of St. Patrick's Day parades, including The Boston Beer Company and Guinness, in objection to organizers refusing to allow groups to express their homosexuality while marching in the event.

"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. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation," the brewing company said in a statement on Sunday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also publicly announced that he would not be participating in the city's parade because of his objection to the regulations.

"I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city," de Blasio said at a press conference. "But I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade."

In response to Guinness' decision to boycott the parade, the Catholic League in turn decided to boycott the brewing company, and created an online petition.

"Guinness is showing its disrespect for diversity, its support for intolerance, and its contempt for the First Amendment rights of everyone associated with the St. Patrick's Day parade," the petition states.

Pro-LGBT group GLAAD welcomed Donohue's initial request to participate in the NYC Pride parade in June, calling it a "drastic change" for him on Thursday.

"As a fellow Irish New Yorker, I'm hoping Bill will march with me at NYC Pride," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "I look forward to the day when I can march openly with Bill in the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade, and not be turned away because of who I am."

In Friday's news release, however, Donohue wished good luck to the Heritage of Pride participants in the parade, noting that he will be watching it from afar – without "downing a Guinness afterwards."

"It is hypocritical for gay activists to complain about having to abide by the mandatory rules of the St. Patrick's Day parade, and then inform me that I cannot march in their parade unless I respect their mandatory rules, rules that I reject," the Catholic League president concluded.

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