UPDATE (March 15, 2014): LGBT band allowed to march openly on Saturday, but parade organizers still fund Knights of Columbus

A member of the Knights of Columbus in a past Charlotte St. Patrick's Day Parade. Photo Credit: James Willamor, via Flickr. Licensed CC.
A member of the Knights of Columbus in a past Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Photo Credit: James Willamor, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Pride Band, an LGBT and straight ally group of musicians, still plans to march in tomorrow’s Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade and say organizers of the event have said they will not edit out the band’s LGBT identity.

“After much discussion, the Charlotte Pride Band has chosen to march in the St Patrick’s Day Parade on March 15th. In making this decision, we focused on our defined mission and especially our shared vision for the Charlotte community,” Band officer Ron Vereen said in a statement to qnotes.

Vereen added, “We strive to provide the highest quality performances we can for the enjoyment and support of the community at large, and this parade provides us with an opportunity to do just that. Our belief is that music can bring together any community, and it is important to have a presence in Charlotte as we try to create a diverse, supportive community that’s welcoming to everyone. We have spoken with parade organizers and told they will announce CPB as an inclusive organization noting our LGBT and straight allied membership. We look forward to this performance and the outreach and awareness opportunities it brings.”

Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade Foundation board member Frank Hart had reiterated his group’s position on the rainbow flags earlier this week, but later refused to comment further on the policy or the group’s connection to Knights of Columbus. A portion of proceeds from this weekend’s events will benefit Knights of Columbus, a national Catholic fraternal organization that contributed $15.8 million to anti-LGBT marriage campaigns and other anti-LGBT causes from 2005-2012.

Today, more than two dozen local LGBT leaders — including this writer and this newspaper’s publisher — released a joint statement calling upon organizers of the Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival to change policies and practices prohibiting rainbow flags and mention of LGBT identities. Additionally, leaders called on the organizers to stop funding Knights of Columbus and for  Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray to withdraw as the parade’s grand marshal. CRVA is a sponsor of the parade.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.