Open Letter: Massachusetts LGBT Veterans Speak Out on St. Patrick's Day Parade

Mar 12, 2014

March 12, 2014

Media inquiries related to this letter can be directed to:
Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123,

The letter below was sent to the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston, organizers of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, to be held March 16, 2014:

We, the undersigned, are some of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans associated with MassEquality who would have marched in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade had parade organizers allowed us to march openly.

We write first and foremost, to reject allegations made by the Allied War Veterans Council that we do not exist. We are well known in our Massachusetts communities. We are active duty, reserve and National Guard veterans, disabled American veterans, American Legion Post past commanders, past district officers, town and city officials, family members, friends, sons and daughters, co-workers and neighbors. We have served our country with distinction defending our Constitution in our United States military service uniforms. We would be proud and honored to stand beside our fellow veterans, march and celebrate the service and sacrifice of all of our veteran brothers and sisters in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In 2010, the United States Congress repealed the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, finally allowing lesbian, gay and bisexual service members to serve this country openly and with pride. We sought only to march with integrity behind the colors that represent our multi-faceted identities as veterans, LGBT people and, for some of us, as Irish-Americans. But we fought too long and too hard to be able to serve our country openly to retreat back into the closet in order to march in a parade. As we have stood shoulder to shoulder, in war and in peace, we would stand together again marching as a symbol of the freedom that we offered our lives for, a freedom for all people, of all colors, creeds, origins, sexual orientations and gender identities. A legion of people that served and who ask nothing more than to stand beside our brothers and sisters, to march openly and proudly in honor and in duty in the uniform that represents the freedom afforded all citizens of the United States. 

We are quite disappointed that the Allied War Veterans Council will not let us fly our colors as we march. More importantly, however, we respectfully request that they cease to allege that we do not exist, that we are “supposed” veterans and that we never intended to march. 


John Affuso, 1st Lieutenant, United States Army Reserve/Army National Guard
Peter K. Bennett Jr., Captain, United States Army
Sandie Bock, Mental Lab Specialist 4, Women's Army Corps
I. Wimberley Burton, Esq., Lieutenant, United States Navy

Daniel Butler, Radioman-Petty Officer 1st Class (E6), United States Navy
Robert H. Cory III, Master Sergeant, United States Air Force/Air National Guard
Jody Cross, E4, United States Army Reserves
Adam Harmon, Captain, United States Army
Travis Hengen, Chief Warrant Officer 2, United States Army
John F. Kelly, Airman 2nd Class, United States Air Force
Neil MacInnes-Barker, Sergeant, United States Air Force
Emily Miller, Captain, United States Army
Reverend Father Alex Oneto, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class, United States Navy Reserve
Melissa Ann Seidenberg, Culinary Specialist SA, United States Navy 
Hope Watt-Bucci, 1st Lieutenant, United States Army