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NEW YORK,  March 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The 255th annual parade meant to celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick in New York City is instead being touted as a victory for the homosexual movement.

“I never thought I'd see the day when I could march up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick's Day Parade with my husband,” said Brendan Fay, chairman of the Lavender and Green Alliance, the second homosexual activist group allowed to march in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. “When we started in 1991, after getting arrested so many times for protesting the parade, wow, what a moment this is.”

The Lavender and Green group follows [email protected], a pro-homosexual group for NBC employees that was allowed to march in the 2015 parade after decades of pressure from homosexual activists demanding to be allowed to march with an identifying banner, and organizers disposing of the parade’s long-standing policy to maintain focus on Irish heritage.

“We Won!” was the headline of the Irish Queers press release last fall after the Lavender and Green group was approved, with a spokesperson calling the move “a total victory.”

The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade website states the parade is held “in honor of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and of the Archdiocese of New York.”

However officials were impervious to Catholics scandalized by their changing the event to one celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.

The deviation from previous policy was to include also acceptance of a pro-life group to march as well, a commitment made by the parade committee that has not been kept, with the last two years having homosexual activist groups march, but no pro-life group.

The Children First Foundation (CFF) had applied for the 2015 parade and been rejected.

The parade committee never returned Personhood Education New York founder Dawn Eskew’s phone calls or emails inquiring into how her pro-life group could apply to march in this year’s parade, Eskew told the National Catholic Register.

“What bothers me is that they never responded,” she said.

“This will be the most inclusive parade in the 255-year history of the parade,” parade chair John Lahey said before this year’s event, according to an NBC New York report. “And really I think it will be the most unifying parade in the past 25 years.”

Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University, is the one who publicly backtracked on the parade committee promise to allow a pro-life group last year, telling the media, “That won’t be happening.”

“What we want to do is keep 2015 focused on the gesture of goodwill we made towards the gay community with the inclusion of [email protected]

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (Catholic League) pulled out of the parade last year after 20 years of participation, the group’s president Bill Donohue calling it indefensible that parade organizers had promised him a pro-life group would be allowed but then only permitting the pro-homosexual group.

“We were double-crossed,” CFF President Elizabeth Rex said. “I would never apply again because I fear they could then actually use our entrance to allow pro-abortion groups to march. It’s going to be the end of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which it already is.”

“They’re claiming a complete victory for tolerance,” she said, “but no, they are intolerant to Catholics who believe that life is sacred at the moment of conception.”

Rex was part of a group of Catholics who held a prayer protest today on the 5th Avenue, praying the rosary during the parade.

After organizers turned from the parade’s Irish Catholic focus last year Catholics were further disheartened when New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan not only did not condemn the parade committee decision, but actually called it wise, and then took part in the parade as the 2015 grand marshal.

Cardinal Dolan tried this year to reclaim the parade’s religious foundation, writing on his blog on March 15, “We cannot observe the St. Patrick’s Day Parade without celebrating both our ethnic and religious heritage.”

He pointed out in his column how the parade was established to honor St. Patrick.

“It is important, especially given the strong secular currents in our society today, that we not forget why this parade exists,” the cardinal wrote. “It is not just the Irish Parade: We march to honor St. Patrick. That is why so many cringe at and resist pleas to weaken the Catholic origins of the parade.”

“While everyone is invited to march in the parade and all are welcome,” he continued, “no one is permitted to use it for causes that are extrinsic to its origins.”

But the cardinal went on to thank parade organizers for “assuring us all that the original intent of the parade, which has flourished for over two-and-a-half centuries – – to celebrate the faith, heritage, culture, and tradition of Ireland – – is preserved.”

Pro-abortion, pro-homosexual New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the whole New York City Council took part in the 2016 parade as well, as did New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, also an abortion proponent who previously boycotted the parade for not allowing homosexual activist groups to march.

An estimated 2 million-plus spectators watched the New York parade on the streets of Manhattan, and in another first, it was also broadcast live in Ireland and the U.K. by the Irish TV television channel.