By Charlotte Alter
September 3, 2014

A gay group will be allowed to march under its own banner in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2015 for the first time in the parade’s 252-year history, organizers announced Wednesday.

OUT@NBC Universal, a LGBTQ support group at NBC, will be the first openly gay group to march in the parade under its own banner. The prohibition against gay groups has been controversial for the nation’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade, causing Mayor De Blasio to boycott this year’s march and costing them their Guinness sponsorship.

“Organizers have diligently worked to keep politics—of any kind—out of the Parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event,” the Parade Committee said in a statement. “Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the Parade. This grand cultural gem has become a target for politicization that it neither seeks nor wants because some groups could join the march but not march with their own banner.

“This change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics as it moves into its 253rd year, all the while remaining loyal to church teachings and the principles that have guided the parade committee for so many decades.”

NBC broadcasts the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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