NEW YORK — Gay pride parades stepped off around the nation on Sunday, in cities large and small, with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their supporters celebrating a year of same-sex marriage victories.
New York’s Fifth Avenue became one giant rainbow as thousands of participants waved multicolored flags while walking down the street. Politicians including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo were among those walking along a lavender line painted on the avenue from midtown Manhattan to the West Village.
The parade marked the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the 1969 uprising against police raids that were a catalyst for the gay rights movement. The parade route passes The Stonewall Inn, the site of the riots.
In Chicago, up to 1 million people were expected to pack the streets of the city’s North Side for the first gay pride parade since Illinois legalized gay marriage last month.
Charlie Gurion, who with David Wilk in February became the first couple in Cook County to get a same-sex marriage license, said there was a different feel to the parade this year because participants can legally marry in Illinois now.
In San Francisco, hundreds of motorcyclists of the lesbian group Dykes on Bikes took their traditional spot at the head of the 44th annual parade and loudly kicked off the festivities with a combined roar. US House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, and assorted state and local politicians joined the parade on Market Street.
A year ago, the Supreme Court issued a pair of landmark rulings, one striking down the statute that denied federal recognition to same-sex marriages and the other clearing the way for gay couples to wed legally in California.
In the 12 months since then, the ripple effects of those rulings have transformed the national debate over same-sex marriage, convincing many people on both sides of the contentious issue that its spread nationwide is inevitable.