Gay group to march in NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

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NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of next year's St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City say a gay group will be allowed to march under its own banner for the first time.

The inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal ends a ban that had made participation in the centuries-old parade a political issue. Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh) refused to march this year, and Guinness dropped its sponsorship.

In a statement made available to The Associated Press on Wednesday, the parade committee welcomes the group, described on its website as an LGBT support group at NBCUniversal. A spokesman says other gay groups can apply to march in future years.

Groups had been prohibited from marching with banners identifying them as gay. Organizers say the change is an effort to keep the world's largest St. Patrick's Day parade "above politics."

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