Supreme Court Ruling Paves Way for ‘Epic' Pride Events Nationwide

Rainbows and good cheer were out in force Sunday as hundreds of thousands of people packed gay pride events from Chicago to New York City, where the governor officiated at a wedding, just days after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made use of some newly granted powers by officiating at the wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple in Manhattan in front of the Stonewall Inn, where years ago gay bar patrons stood up to a police raid.

State law did not allow Cuomo to officiate at wedding ceremonies until last week. The authority to do so was granted as part of a slew of legislation passed days ago.

This year, parades are taking on a more celebratory tone.

"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 U.S. Supreme Court issued on Friday a long-awaited ruling, giving same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. Virginia's comments 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. "I actually just wrote on Twitter that this is the most historic Pride march since the first."

In New York City, where celebrations erupted after Friday's Supreme Court ruling, 22,000 people are expected to join the march over a 2-mile route, and more than 2 million people are expected to visit throughout the day. The event is considered a march, Studinski said, because the movement still has much to accomplish.

Chicago likewise prepared for a crowded and joyous 46th Annual Pride Parade, which winds through more than 4 miles of celebrations throughout the Windy City. Huge crowds were expected to join in the parade after more than 1 million people celebrated at last year's event. Even the Stanley Cup is set to join in Chicago's parade, accompanied by representatives from the champion Blackhawks.

"Having The Cup at the parade is important because it shows the Blackhawks continued support of the LGBT community," team president Andrew Sobotka told

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 NBA champions the 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 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision was especially meaningful in the Bay Area, where gay marriages first took place in San Francisco more than a decade ago, and where two Berkeley women helped launch a successful challenge to the state's gay marriage ban.

Organizers in each city took security measures to ensure revelers did not get too rowdy. Chicago organizers hired a private security firm to patrol the parade, in addition to hundreds of Chicago Police officers, who are prepared to hand out $1,000 fines to people caught with open alcohol at the parade. Organizers in Chicago also asked late-night bars to close early.

"We want people to come in, enjoy our community, but do it in a safe way," Richard Pfeiffer, a Pride Parade coordinator, told NBC 5 Chicago. Out-of-control revelers there have provoked calls in the past to move the parade out of the city's Lakeview neighborhood.

A Pride spectator was shot in San Francisco's civic center Saturday afternoon after an argument near the events exploded into gunfire. Police said the shooting was "unrelated" to the Pride events.

In the Philippines, in India, in Australia and elsewhere, gay rights advocates think the U.S. ruling may help change attitudes.

In today's wired world, political movements cross national boundaries in the blink of an eye, and the trend toward legal acceptance of same-sex marriage is gaining pace, though still rejected outright in some parts of the globe. The U.S. is neither laggard nor leader in this movement, which reflects a fundamental change in public views in many parts of the world, but the ruling of its highest court is expected to have a ripple effect elsewhere.

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 week, New York granted landmark status to the Stonewall Inn, where the city's LGBT community celebrated after the high court's ruling.

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."


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

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