Mike Signorile wonders if Comcast will continue to profit from the bigoted St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York:
It’s 2012, and in New York State gays and lesbians have full civil rights, including marriage equality. Gays are no longer banned in the U.S. military. But they are still banned from Fifth Avenue’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in an embarrassing throwback for everyone involved.
It’s frankly appalling that NBC, and now its parent company Comcast, still sells the broadcast rights (on its local affiliate, WNBC) to the intolerant bunch that runs the parade — in 2007, that amount was $300,000– and then helps the organizers sell advertising to major companies. More than that, one of NBC’s top executives — a man who aids the organizers in getting those ad dollars — was chosen as this year’s Grand Marshall.
As David Mixner notes, the Prime Minister of Ireland as well as most New York politicians who support equality won’t march in the parade because of this bigotry. Last year, the Irish Foreign Minister condemned the parade. But Francis X. Comerford, Chief Revenue Officer and President of Commercial Operations for the NBC Owned Television Stations, has no problem leading the parade as Grand Marshall.
Comcast really needs to think this through. It’s 2012 for Christ sakes.
Ireland, which is 87% Catholic, is more advanced on gay issues than the United States is. These old Irish guys who run the parade are an embarrassment to Irish people everywhere (including me and my family.) Comcast really doesn’t need to cavort with these haters.
Remember, last year Comcast let the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce support that anti-LGBT legislation, which overturned Nashville’s non-discrimination ordinance. Here’s the statement the company sent us during that debacle:
“At Comcast, we believe it’s simple: discrimination is wrong. Our policy of non-discrimination provides the same protections to all our employees, whether in Tennessee or any other state. Consistent with that, we don’t support Tennessee SB632/HB600. Comcast agrees with the NGLCC, ‘No one should be judged by his or her sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace. In this delicate economic climate, diminishing the rights of LGBT people sends the wrong signal across Tennessee and around the country.’”
Okay. Then, aiding and abetting the hatred from the organizers of the NY parade should be off the table, too.
The truth is, most LGBT activists weren’t focused on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade all these years, with bigger fish to fry. But many are now looking at this as unfinished business — as I said, an embarrassment in a state where we now have marriage rights — and they are also seeing Comcast as a company that is very vulnerable. If Comcast doesn’t want a battle on its hands — a battle it will ultimately lose, after much p.r. erosion — it will make sure that March 18, 2012 is the beginning of the end of the ban on gays in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Then we can say Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh and mean it.