Even after the Supreme Court essentially legalized gay marriage nationwide, gay rights remains a hot button and contentious political issue. Some companies, like Starbucks and Chick Fil A, have come out strongly on one side or the other of the issue. Others have been a bit more circumspect, donating to this cause or that one, and trying to do so quietly.
With every stand, rather public or private, there is a consequence, a price that is paid, for good or ill. One major “all-American” brand is about to put that truism to the test.
Rumors are spreading that Anheuser-Busch, parent company of Budweiser, Bud Light, and a host of America’s most popular brews, may well pull its sponsorship of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade in order to protest the exclusion of gay veterans groups. The rumors started swirling after OutVets, an organization that honors LGBTQ veterans as well as active-duty US service members, said they were told they would not be allowed to march in the March 19 South Boston parade, two days after St. Patrick’s Day.
Losing the sponsorship could be a big blow for parade organizers, as Anheuser-Busch had a large sponsorship levels and even planned to have the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales march in the parade. How serious is Bud about pulling out of the parade? Here’s what a spokesperson said:
“We are disappointed to learn that the OutVets, who have proudly served this country, have been denied entry… We are re-evaluating our participation in this event.”
This is not the first time LGBTQ groups have not been allowed to march in the parade, which has prohibited “sexual orientation” to be “openly displayed” in the past. That wasn’t the case last year or the year before when OutVets marched proudly. Now, suddenly, OutVets is “out” once again.
In 2015, the group marched near other veterans groups, alongside a congressman and in close proximity to the Massachusetts Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. Last year, they were stuck near the rear of the parade, separated from other veterans organizations. According to the group, members talked about refusing to march last year in protest of what they saw as dismissive and rude treatment. They chose to march anyway, bringing their complaints to organizers after the fact. This year, after the complaints were made, the group was told they could not march.
Parade organizer Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston did not offer a clear-cut reason for keeping OutVets out of the parade, and that lack of a good, clear reason has Anheuser-Busch ready to make a strong stand in denouncing the group.
According to CNN, this is not the first time a major beer sponsor skipped out on a parade that openly discriminated against LGBTQ people. Sam Adams dropped out of the 2014 Boston Parade because of the previous standard, and both Guinness and Heineken refused to sponsor the 2014 NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade for the same reason.