June 25, 2012 in Nation/World

Gay pride marches held across nation

San Francisco, Chicago and New York hold rallies Sunday
John S. Marshall Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Revelers with balloons create a human rainbow during San Francisco’s 42nd annual Gay Pride Parade on Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – Loud sirens, flashing lights and countless rainbow flags and banners accompanied uniformed police officers, cheerleaders and politicians who marched in San Francisco’s gay pride parade Sunday, the 42nd year the city has celebrated the lesbian, gay and transgender community.

More than 200 floats made their way down Market Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. A few marchers were dressed in elaborate, brightly colored outfits made from balloons, while many other participants and parade watchers wore hardly anything.

Angel Nava, 19, of Sacramento, Calif., wearing just a pair of skimpy orange-colored shorts, stood with his arms crossed, apparently chilled, but still in good humor.

“I think all these people are beautiful,” he said.

Mayor Ed Lee was set to speak at the city’s Civic Center – near the parade’s end-point – later Sunday. He’ll appear not far from where gay rights activist and San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk famously addressed gay pride celebrants more than 30 years ago.

Organizers said San Francisco’s weekend events are the largest LGBT gathering in the nation, but thousands were also celebrating in Chicago and New York City, where paradegoers are toasting the anniversary of the state’s same-sex marriage law.

In Chicago, large crowds gathered on the city’s North Side, with many saying it was time for Illinois to allow gay marriage. Sunday’s parade comes just weeks after 25 Illinois couples sued for the right to marry.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez have refused to defend the lawsuit, saying the state’s gay marriage ban violates the constitution. Gay marriage opponents have said they’re strategizing over how to intervene.

Last year, several floats were vandalized before the parade began. Chicago police said there have been no reports of trouble.

New York’s march exuded diversity, from grand marshal Cyndi Lauper to the mayor, the police commissioner and the governor.

“New York is a place where you can do whatever you want to do,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared before he joined the Fifth Avenue parade at noon.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators crowded sidewalks a dozen deep, cheering and waving rainbow-colored flags for the annual festivities one year after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into law.

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