After an important week for advocates of same-sex marriage, thousands across the country celebrated the gay rights movement, NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.
Gay Pride weekend festivities are rarely understated, but after the Supreme Court’s decisions last week, marches and rallies all over the country were expected to be especially celebratory this year.
Pride weekend generally occurs at the end of June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, in which the gay community exploded against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City on June 28, 1969.
After the Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday to overturn DOMA, granting legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, and to let "Prop. 8" die, resuming the legalization of gay marriage in California, the festive atmosphere surrounding Pride events has been ramped up several notches.
While many of the largest and most notable Pride rallies and parties occur in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, smaller but equally colorful celebrations were set to take place in Seattle, St. Louis, Cleveland and other cities throughout the U.S. and around the globe.
Although the first gay pride march was in New York, in forty-plus years, pride events have spread throughout the world. The Paris pride march also had a duel celebration purpose on Saturday, marking the one month anniversary of France’s first gay marriage. Simultaneously, LGBT groups and supporters marched in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Canada, Sweden, and Finland held parades on Sunday.
Jose Cabezas / AFP - Getty Images
Members of the LBGT community and their allies celebrate around the world.
Appropriately leading the way in New York City, was Edith Windsor — the woman who championed the fight against DOMA.
Signs along the route read, "Thank you, Edie" — celebrating Windsor for her successful challenge of a provision of DOMA that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
"If somebody had told me 15 years ago that I would be the marshal of New York City's gay pride parade in 2013, at the age of 84, I wouldn't have believed it," said Windsor.
Singer Harry Belafonte and activist Earl Fowlkes, both equality and civil rights advocates, joined her in leading the two-mile march down New York's famed Fifth Avenue from Midtown to the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
“LGBT rights are expanding across the country and these individuals embody the soul of a movement far from over,” organizers NYC Pride said in statement.
The NYPD this year increased plain-clothes patrol to deal with problems that may occur before and after the parade, officials said. The additional surveillance is in response not only to expected record-breaking crowds but also the deadly shooting of a gay man that took place just a month ago in the area that Pride-goers are set to congregate.
Progressive songstress Lady Gaga spoke out against gay violence at New York’s kickoff rally on Friday, declaring "The violence that has taken place towards LGBTs in the past months is unacceptable here and anywhere … enough is enough," according to NBCNewyork.
While the parade marks the peak of excitement in New York, marchers may have trouble trumping the grandeur of her surprise appearance and performance of her pride-centric “Star-Spangled Banner” including the line, “Oh, say does that flag of pride yet wave."
Although New York's Stonewall sparked gay pride marches, San Francisco is equally famous for its gay community, and also boasts a large and colorful pride weekend. According to NBCBayarea, San Francisco’s police chief expects over 1.5 million people to attend the parade.
"Even though the World Series was huge, this could quite possibly be larger in light of the decision that just came down from the Supreme Court — but it will be just as happy as the World Series," Police Chief Greg Suhr said. Police presence has also been bolstered in San Francisco to keep musical performances, rallies and the parade enjoyable and safe.
Meanwhile, Chicagopride.com announced that their pride weekend will also include performances, over 200 floats and of course, marchers.
According to the Chicago Transit Authority, the parade route was expanded to include more streets last year and maintains that distance this year to accommodate the greater amount of people who wish to display their pride in Chi town.
According to NBCChicago, the gay rights advocates of their city could use a joyous occasion after Illinois could not garner enough support from the house to legalize gay marriage in the state, even after a petition on Change.org and a plea from President Barack Obama to the lawmakers of his home state.