Mayor de Blasio refuses to march in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- For the second year in a row, Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, despite a policy shift that will allow a gay group to march for the first time in the parade’s history.

The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade lifted its ban on LGBT groups last year. Tuesday’s parade saw its first gay group -- OUT@NBCUniversal, part of the broadcast station that is airing the parade -- marching under its own banner.

The mayor did not march in last year's parade either because of the event's express exclusion of gay groups. de Blasio’s public schedule for Monday reveals he will attend the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but will not stay for the parade that winds up Fifth Avenue between 29th and 44th streets.

The exclusion of LGBT organizations from the historic parade -- now in its 253rd year -- led to major sponsors pulling out of last year’s event. Beer-makers Guinness, Heineken and Sam Adams all dropped their sponsorship of St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York City and Boston in 2014. Guinness has returned this year to sponsor NYC’s event.

Still, the move toward inclusion drew criticism from gay-rights groups, like GLAAD and Irish Queers, which called for more broad acceptance of LGBT organizations in the cultural event. A spokesperson for the parade said more gay groups can apply to march in next year’s parade.