Christine Quinn: Not Irish enough–or too gay?

Christine Quinn and Partner.jpgThe speaker of the New York City Council, a pretty powerful and savvy lass, is also about as Irish as they come. But she’s openly gay, too. Which means she can’t march in New York’s annual March 17 Eire-extravaganza up Fifth Avenue and past Cardinal Edward Egan standing on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Yes, divorced, pro-choice, pro gay rights and Italian-American Rudy Giuliani was welcome. But alas, not Christine Quinn.

The New York Times’ City Room reports:


Ms. Quinn — the 2008 recipient of the Irish American of the Year award from the Irish Echo, the oldest and largest Irish-American newspaper — said in an interview that she was honored. But she also said that she felt a bit of “sadness” that she also wouldn’t be able to celebrate on Fifth Avenue, alongside the estimated 150,000 people who march every year either.

Sure, she asked the parade’s organizers, the New York City St. Patrick’s Parade and Celebration Committee, to sit down and have a meeting to discuss possible compromises — as she has done for years. And once again, she said that she did not get a response.

“I just don’t understand why being stuck is more attractive than even trying,” she said. “It just seems hard to accept, with all of the progress in our city, and all of the progress in the world, that we should be at loggerheads over the inclusiveness of the Fifth Avenue parade. It kind of boggles the mind.”


A message left with the parade organizers was not immediately returned.

As the story notes, Quinn has been hailed by much of the Irish-American community, and something tells me this isn’t a play by the Cathedral crowd, either. Edward Egan never liked to pick fights with public figures, no matter how controversial, and I don’t think he’d give a hoot if Quinn marched–even if she was with her partner, as shown in this photo of her, at right, marching in the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin with Kim Catullo.

(When Quinn became council speaker in 2006 parade organizers said she could march–as long as she wore nothing and did nothing to indicate she was gay. She, um, declined.)


Yes, the Irish–that is, the church-going folks who live in Ireland–are a lot less torn up about this sort of thing than the provincials organizing the New York parade. Indeed, to make the story even more rich, this year Quinn will be attending a reception for Irish-Americans at the White House Tuesday night hosted by President Obama, and featuring Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland. Sweet.

The Irish…They say all their wars are merry and their songs are sad. This battle is definitely not a happy one.

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posted March 16, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I don’t know if I’m Irish or not, but if I ever felt the desire to go to New York and march in the parade, I don’t now. Then again, I’m not a big fan of New York. I went one time and it was loud and crowded and I didn’t get to see the big piano at FAO Schwarz.

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm

“Yes, the Irish–that is, the church-going folks who live in Ireland–are a lot less torn up about this sort of thing than the provincials organizing the New York parade.”
I was privileged to know the late Frank Beirne, former Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade Organizer. He was the cousin of Rev. Luke W. McCann, Ph.D., the Priest who was my life’s mentor. These were no “provincials”. They were great men of great faith, with great fidelity to the Magisterium. Father McCann held a doctorate in Literature from Columbia University, and four master’s degrees. No rustic, he. Frank Beirne was the AOH president who opposed Mayor Dinkins attempts to hijack a private organization’s parade by forcing the AOH to accept ILGO (Irish Lesbian Gay Organization) marching under their own banner.
Let’s be honest men here. Frank Beirne and the AOH repeatedly said that all of the members of ILGO were welcome to march in the parade as Irishmen and Irishwomen, but not under a Gay and Lesbian banner.
They would similarly reject a banner celebrating divorce and adultery. Therefore, you are being a little disingenuous when you suggest that Rudy Giuliani was a welcome parade participant, but Christine Quinn is not. They are both welcome as individuals, but not under banners that celebrate what the Magesterium and the AOH abhors.
That doesn’t smack of provincialism to me. That sounds more like men and women of faith, honoring that faith, and welcoming all as individuals. In welcoming the individuals, they honor them at the most profound level of existence, the individual. I’d rather be honored as Gerard than as a Microbiologist.
It’s no secret that Ireland has been in a decline of faith for several years now. Apart from being a Geographic point of origin, I see nothing particular going on there that would make the old country the standard of measure in matters of faith.
Obama invited Quinn to the White House for dinner with PM Cowen? This has as much to do with the matters of the AOH faith as the BLT I ate for breakfast this morning. When I think of fidelity to the Magesterium, Obama doesn’t immediately come to mind.
Have a Great St. Patrick’s Day David!

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posted March 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

My question is…why would she want to point out anything except her “Irishness” in a St. Patrick’s Day parade? I would expect most folks know that she is a lesbian, and probably don’t care. Is this parade totally organized by the RCC in NYC and only Cathoics march in it? If so, she is Catholic.

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Aster Brittan

posted March 16, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Why is Christina Quinn not Welcomed to the Patty’s Day Parade?
What’s Gay Got To Do With It Anyway?
It’s curious to me how humans can be so narrow in the most expansive landscape known to exist……Our Minds!

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posted March 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Lesbians aren’t allowed to be in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade? What century is this? When did the Catholic Church get so nasty? This is so hard for me to believe. I am sure they let gay priests in this parade. (Well, as long as it is don’t ask, don’t tell.) SIGH!

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Guy Selvester

posted March 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm

The NY parade is organized as a CATHOLIC event by the Ancient Order of Hibernians which is a CATHOLIC organization. There are no Irish Protestants marching under a banner in this parade either. The NY St. Patrick’s Day parade is NOT about celebrating your Irish-ness. It is the feast day of the CATHOLIC patron saint of Ireland. Those who stand in opposition (and open hostility) toward Church teaching shouldn’t be in the parade identified as a group. And just what in the heck does being gay have to do with either being a Catholic or being an Irish-American? Nothing. So, if you can’t march in a parade that is ALL ABOUT being Catholic and being Irish-American without identifying yourself as gay then you shouldn’t march. Gay women and men who feel they MUST make an issue of being gay no matter where they are or what they are doing have really lost the plot.

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Your Name

posted June 16, 2009 at 10:17 am

So sad that all the Irish-Americans who did us proud and contributed enormously to Ireland are represented on our National Day by exactly the same backward, bigoted, ignorant men we’ve spent a generation getting rid of in Ireland.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians are abhorred in Ireland for this stance.
Therese Ahern – Cork

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