Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, criticized by gay-rights groups last year for marching in the nation's oldest and biggest St. Patrick's Day parade because it bans homosexuals, said Friday she will not march this year.
Asked whether last year's flap kept her from marching again, Clinton said only that she had already committed to appear in a parade in Syracuse after attending holiday events in New York City.
"I marched last year, and I was proud to march last year," she said. "I wish that there were sort of a central clearinghouse for scheduling St. Patrick's Day parades. There isn't. So I'm going to be going upstate after I spend time down here supporting those who are going to be marching and attending events with them."
This year, the parade's 240th, will mark the 11th time that the New York-based Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization has been banned from marching under its own banner. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the fraternal Roman Catholic group that runs the parade, has repeatedly maintained its right to exclude the gay organization.
State Sen. Tom Duane, who is openly gay and HIV positive, said he was glad Clinton would not march.
"I hope that she will . . . in the future base her decision not to march on the lack of inclusiveness of the Manhattan parade," he said.
Last year Clinton was taunted by shouts of "Go back to Arkansas!" as she walked along the Fifth Avenue parade route as a Senate candidate.