Jubilant NY crowds celebrate gay marriage ruling at pride march

29 Jun 2015 / 13:12 H.

NEW YORK: Under a sea of rainbow flags, hundreds of thousands of people packed the streets of New York on Sunday for the annual Gay Pride March, celebrating the US Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalising same-sex marriage nationwide.
Despite the persistent chilly rain, organisers said as many as two million people could attend – including 22,000 people marching in the parade itself down Fifth Avenue.
Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen, two of Britain's most famous openly gay actors, served as the grand marshals of the parade.
Also leading the march was Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, founder of the LGBT rights organisation Freedom & Roam Uganda. Homosexuality remains illegal in that African nation and can carry a life prison sentence.
"We march today with the New Yorkers and America in support of their rights, but I also hold the march in support of my struggle," she told AFP.
The march began at around mid-day after a minute's silence for those who could not attend, including people who had died of AIDS or been killed in hate crimes.
Any somber feelings were soon displaced and the festive atmosphere returned after the actor Tituss Burgess sang the American national anthem.
Many other well-known figures attended, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wore a tie with rainbow stripes and carried a rainbow flag, the symbol of the gay rights movement. He attended with his wife and two children.
In the crowd, families mixed with scantily clad transvestites. Teens wore short rainbow tutus, and many carried signs that simply said "Love."

Ruling important for young people
In scenes that would have been tough to imagine 45 years ago, when New York cops would raid gay bars and homosexuality was illegal, many revelers reflected on what the Supreme Court ruling means for America.
One man in his 40s, who only gave his name as Dune, came to the march with his partner Jason. The two say they have plans to wed.
"I am a teacher," Dune told AFP. "This decision of the Supreme Court means a great deal for young people, especially teenagers."
He said it remains difficult for teenagers to come out, and doing so can still be dangerous. The Supreme Court ruling will help change that, he said.
"I live in New York, I am an adult. But for kids, they are the ones that are going to benefit down the road."
The court on Friday made same-sex marriage legal throughout the nation, capping a lengthy effort for marriage equality that had seen 37 states allow gay marriage but 13 hold out against it.
March organisers said on Twitter they would be performing free weddings during the day Sunday.
Discrimination persists
Richard Ahlgren, 55, came from the neighboring state of Connecticut.
He welcomed the Supreme Court ruling but said the gay community nevertheless still faces discrimination.
"There are other problems," Ahlgren said. "As far as housing, employment, there is still discrimination out there – problems that we need to fix, until we are 100% free."
New York's first gay rights march was held in 1970, a year after a now notorious incident in which police raided a famed Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, prompting riots in the gay community.
Not everyone was happy about the Supreme Court decision. A group of Orthodox Jews carried a large banner stating: "In God we trust. The Almighty in his Torah forbids same-sex marriage."
San Francisco was also hosting gay pride events this weekend. One spectator was injured there Saturday night in a shooting that stemmed from an argument unrelated to the event. – AFP


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