Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Saturday, 18 March, 2000, 01:16 GMT
Hillary's St Patrick's march offends gays
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani leads the annual parade
By Jane Hughes in New York

The First Lady, Hillary Clinton, has run into a row over her participation in New York's annual St Patrick's Day parade.

Most Democrat politicians boycott the parade because the organisers refuse to allow the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization to take part.

Protesters of the Gay and Lesbian Organization ban
Supporters of the Gay and Lesbian Organization march against the ban
Mrs Clinton is running for the US Senate in New York and critics say her participation shows that she does not understand the political sensitivities of the city.

The parade is an annual tradition dating back 239 years - the 300,000 marchers and two million spectators bringing New York City to a halt in celebration of Irish Americans.

Mrs Clinton said a few weeks ago that she would be taking part - apparently not realising that Democrats usually boycott the march.

Her participation has offended gay and lesbian groups in New York. But if she had backtracked and pulled out, she would have upset the city's large Irish American community.

Northern Ireland

She said she had decided to march to show her support for the Northern Ireland peace process.

"I would hope that this parade would become inclusive, but this is a day also to celebrate the contributions of Irish Americans," Mrs Clinton said.

"I have worked now for about seven years on the peace process, and I think every one of us, as we march, will be saying a little prayer about the peace process."

The row threatens to alienate New York's gay and lesbian community, which has been very supportive of Mrs Clinton's candidacy.

But, more significantly, it enables critics to accuse her of failing to understand the complexities of New York politics.

Her probable opponent, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, never misses an opportunity to remind people she is not from New York.

Incidents like this one are likely to increase concerns among some that she does not have the feel for the State that a senator needs.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Americas Contents

Country profiles
See also:

17 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Day of celebration and controversy
13 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
St Pat's talks 'no party'
23 Oct 99 | Americas
Hillary in New York pizza row
06 Feb 00 | Americas
Hillary confirms Senate campaign
17 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
St Patrick's Day in pictures
28 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Hillary steps into dung art row
Links to other Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories