Same-sex marriage ruling makes for 'epic' and 'historic' Pride parades

Rainbows and jubilant crowds are out in force, as hundreds of thousands of people celebrate the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage at Pride events across the country.

John Minchillo/AP
Gay marriage plaintiff James Obergefell (center) waves during the Cincinnati Pride parade, Saturday, June 27. On Friday, the US Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide.

Rainbows and good cheer are out in force Sunday as hundreds of thousands of people pack gay pride events from New York City to Seattle, San Francisco to Chicago to celebrate a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Organizers of San Francisco's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade, usually just called "Pride," expect about 1 million revelers. It will have 240 groups marching in the parade and more than 30 floats, its largest in 45 years.

"Every trailer in Nevada and California has been rented and brought in, including one from a farm in Northern California," said Gary Virginia, board president of San Francisco Pride. "I just think it's going to be magical this year."

That's because the US Supreme Court on Friday issued a long-awaited ruling, giving same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. As the Christian Science Monitor's Warren Richey reported on Friday:

In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court issued the constitutional equivalent of a grand-slam homerun for same-sex couples across the United States.

“The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

 ...

“If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” [Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his dissenting opinion].

“Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits,” Roberts said.

“But do not celebrate the Constitution,” he said. “It had nothing to with it.”

Not surprisingly, celebrations began Friday and have continued through the weekend:

“Today’s ruling is a transformative triumph decades in the making, a momentous victory for freedom, equality, inclusion, and above all, love,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry and a pioneer in the same-sex marriage movement.

“For anyone who ever doubted that we could bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice, today the United States again took a giant step toward the more perfect union we the people aspire to,” Mr. Wolfson said.

Mr. Virginia's comments about the effects of the ruling on Pride parades were echoed by leaders of Pride celebrations in other cities.

"It's going to be an epic weekend," said David Studinski, march director for New York City Pride. 

New York City expects 22,000 people marching in a 2-mile route and more than 2 million people to visit throughout the day. The event is considered a march, Studinski said, because the movement still has much to accomplish.

At gay pride parades in Dublin, Paris, and other cities Saturday, the Supreme Court ruling was hailed by many as a watershed.

"Soon in all countries we will be able to marry," said Celine Schlewitz, a 25-year-old nurse taking part in the Paris parade. "Finally a freedom for everyone."

In the Philippines, in India, in Australia, and elsewhere, gay rights advocates think the US decision may help change attitudes around the world.

In the Philippines, activists seeking to win legal recognition for same-sex marriages believe the US ruling will be useful, particularly since the country's legal setup is largely based on the US system, said Sylvia Estrada Claudio, a gender rights advocate and professor at the University of the Philippines.

"This ruling will have positive repercussions for our own movements here," she said.

Street celebrations were boosted Saturday in Dublin, where Ireland mounted the biggest gay rights parade in the country's history.

Led by rainbow banners and drag queens, more than 60,000 people paraded at the culmination of a weeklong gay rights festival in the Irish capital. While the mood was already high following Ireland's referendum last month to legalize gay marriage — becoming the first nation to do so by popular vote — many marchers said the Supreme Court ruling provided a bonus reason to celebrate.

Pride festivities started as a way to honor the 1969 Stonewall rebellion, when gay patrons stood up to a police raid at a bar in New York City. In San Francisco, marchers took to Polk Street in 1970, and in 1972, the event became a parade, with an estimated 2,000 marchers and 15,000 spectators, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This year's parade in San Francisco, which has the theme "Equality Without Exception," offers a bit of everything for spectators, from social justice to professional basketball. The parade's celebrity grand marshal is Rick Welts, president of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Speakers include Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the landmark same-sex marriage suit decided Friday by the US Supreme Court.

Chicago, the Twin Cities, St. Petersburg and St. Louis have planned Pride events for Sunday.

Seattle expects to draw nearly 500,000 parade watchers, said Eric Bennett, president of Seattle Pride.

"This is definitely going to be a momentous Pride weekend all over the country," he said. "It's just going to raise the celebration level of everybody who supports marriage equality."

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Associated Press writer Gregory Katz contributed to this report from London.

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