Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Bullen, of Westborough, Mass., left, holds an American flag as U.S. Army veteran Ian Ryan, of Dennis, Mass., front right, rolls up an OutVets banner after marching with a group representing LGBT military veterans in a Veterans Day parade in Boston, Nov. 11, 2014. The organizers of Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade voted to allow the group of gay veterans along with a second group, Boston Pride, to march in this year's parade.
Steven Senne—AP
By Justin Worland
Updated: March 15, 2015 3:14 PM ET

Two gay rights groups marched in Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade for the first time in its 114-year history on Sunday, ending a two-decade ban against participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in the annual celebration.

LGBT rights group Boston Pride and OutVets, an organization for gay veterans, joined in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year, as did Mayor Marty Walsh, who opted out last year because it didn’t allow gay groups. No Boston mayor had participated in the parade since 1995, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Allied War Veterans Council’s ban on participants who identified as gay.

“I’m thrilled that the St. Patrick’s Day parade is inclusive this year, and the addition of Boston Pride to the list of participants reflects the values of the South Boston neighborhood,” Walsh said in a statement before the event. “With this year’s parade, Boston is putting years of controversy behind us.”

The parade route, which winds through the city’s traditional Irish-American section, was shortened by nearly half this year after heavy snowfall in recent months stymied road-clearing efforts, Reuters reports.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to boycott his city’s pride parade for the second year in a row because organizers won’t allow more than one gay group to participate.

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