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For the first time, an LGBT group will march in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT advocacy group at the network that broadcasts the event, will be the first gay organization permitted to march under its own banner.

Parade organizers have historically prohibited expressions of gay identity, such as flags, banners, and pins, during the event. 

The Irish Times reported that due to so much bad press and the loss of lucrative sponsors, like Guinness, NBC was ready to "drop its coverage" unless a gay group was included. 

Parade spokesman Bill O'Reilly told the Associated Press that the committee's unanimous decision means that other LGBT groups will be similarly free to participate in America's oldest and largest St. Patrick's Day parade in 2016. 

Last year, Bill de Blasio became the first New York City Mayor in over 20 years not to march, citing the parade's exclusion of gay groups as the reason for his absence.

New York City Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito praised the decision in a statement sent to The Wire on Wednesday. 

This is a welcome first step and a good day for New Yorkers who believe in fairness, equality, and human rights. For far too long the St. Patrick's Day Parade excluded New Yorkers just because of who they to love. I am happy organizers finally realized that this parade is better when all are invited."

Ironically, de Blasio may have been able to achieve something that his chief rival in the 2013 mayoral race, former New York City Speaker Christine Quinn, was not. While the openly gay Quinn has long protested the March 17 parade, she was unable to convince her boss, then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to do the same.  

"It’s about time," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. "Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue."

The 253-year-old parade proceeds from 44th street up 5th Avenue to 79th street.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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