Via: 90.9 wbur by Shane Hunt and Robert C. Bordone, Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic
For a brief moment, there seemed to be a breakthrough in the decades-old stalemate between the organizers of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and LGBTQ groups striving to march in the annual event. The apparent deal, brokered by Boston’s new mayor, Marty Walsh, purportedly permitted LGBTQ groups to march so long as they avoided wearing clothing or holding signs that refer to sexual orientation.
When we first read about this agreement, we were deeply dispirited.
In our view, this arrangement was a classic example of dividing the baby: it left both sides unhappy and assured that no one’s interests were satisfied. Though some say that the mark of a good resolution to a dispute is that everyone is a little bit unhappy, we disagree. Sustainable solutions typically meet the main interests of most of the stakeholders. From our vantage point, this negotiated arrangement was wholly unstable. So when we heard the news that the deal had fallen apart, we were relieved and unsurprised.
Because rightly understood, the real differences that need to be bridged here are not the terms under which an LGBTQ affinity group can march in a parade that has traditionally banned them. The real negotiation is not even about the parade at all. And so neither the mayor, nor a crack team of world famous mediators, nor King Solomon himself could succeed in reaching a sustainable or satisfying outcome by hammering out details about how a sign might identify marchers as gay, straight, trans*, queer, bi- or asexual.