Discuss as:

Marchers fill streets as cities across US celebrate gay pride

Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images

Marchers walk down 5th Avenue during the New York Gay Pride parade on Sunday.

From San Francisco to New York and cities and towns in-between, revelers crowded streets and sidewalks Sunday for annual gay pride parades.

The sidewalks of downtown San Francisco were filled with colorful participants and spectators as the city marked its 42nd year celebrating the lesbian, gay and transgender community.  Organizers said more than 200 floats, vehicles and marching bands are taking part. The city's mayor, Ed Lee, was to address the crowd at the city's Civic Center.


Organizers say San Francisco's events are the largest LGBT gathering in the nation.

In New York, nearly 2 million marchers followed the lavender line painted on Fifth Avenue, marking the first anniversary of the state's same-sex marriage law.

Throngs of spectators crowded along the sidewalks, waving rainbow-colored flags as participants, including Cyndi Lauper as grand marshal, went by. The parade was held one year to the day of same-sex marriage being legalized in New York state.

The city's first married gay couple, Connie Kopelov and Phyllis Siegel, were also grand marshalls at the parade.

Among those participating were Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was accompanied by her wife. Quinn and her longtime partner were married last month.

Bloomberg had a message to the rest of America: "The government should get out of your personal life."

"New York is a place where you can do whatever you want to do," he said, before stepping off onto the parade route.

Watch the most-viewed videos on msnbc.com

Each year since 1970, the parade has had a different theme. This time, it's called "Share the Love." Organizers say they want other states to pass legislation that allows same-sex marriage, which is already legal in six states and the District of Columbia.

More than 300 groups marched down Fifth Avenue to the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, which is widely considered the start of the national gay rights movement.

In Chicago, organizers, working with the city, decided to extend the path of the march in the hopes of spreading out the huge crowds. More than 750,000 people were expected to descend on the area to take part in the revelry.

NY GOP lawmakers targeted for gay marriage supportGov. Pat Quinn led the march. Just before things got started, he talked to reporters about the importance of equality -- particularly when it comes to marriage.

 

"I think marriage equality is something we're going to get in Illinois," Quinn said. "It's going to maybe take a little while, but I think it's important to move forward."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel marched as well, shaking hands and calling it a "landmark year" for gay and lesbian rights, thanks to President Obama signing hate crimes legislation, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and speaking out in favor of marriage equality.

For the first time, out, active-duty members of the military marched in the pride parade, with no fear of losing their jobs.

"It's a great opportunity and a great event to come out here and actually show who we are, being in the military and gay and out," said Richard Dumbrique, a member of Gay, Lesbian, and Supporting Sailors, or GLASS.

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected at Seattle's Pride Parade. The event hosted by Seattle Out and Proud featured 180 groups. Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire was parade marshal.

Information from The Associated Press, NBCChicago.com, NBCNewYork.com and KING5.com is included in this story.

More content from msnbc.com and NBC News:

Follow US News on msnbc.com on Twitter and Facebook