Gay Pride, Same-Sex Marriage Celebrations Spark San Francisco Parade

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to San Francisco Sunday for the Gay Pride Parade. Jean Elle reports.

    Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in downtown San Francisco to watch the city's 43rd annual Pride Parade, and the crowd had even more to celebrate than in previous years.

    The weekend's celebration came after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the dismissal of an appeal in the Proposition 8 case and ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

    The LGBT community and supporters gathered on Market Street to cheer on more than 200 groups who participated in this year's parade, including dignitaries, city departments and several Bay Area organizations.

    A motorcade of around 200 motorcycles kicked off the parade, which made its way from Market and Beale streets to the Civic Center.

    Following the motorcycles were contingents of costumed bicyclists from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the AIDS Lifecycle.

    Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom walked the route and shook hands with the people while holding his daughter, Montana, who was waving a rainbow flag.

    "This is such a historical day," Larkspur resident Jan Jones said. "We aren't separate but equal."  Jones, 75, and her partner Judi Provance, 70, of Larkspur were married in San Francisco City Hall in 2008 before Proposition 8 was passed.

    They attributed the recent Supreme Court rulings to Newsom, who permitted the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples while he was mayor of San Francisco in 2004.

    "Without Gavin Newsom's courage, we wouldn't be here," Jones said. Other dignitaries in the parade included state Attorney General Kamala Harris, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and Treasurer
    Jose Cisneros.

    Cheers erupted for Kris Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Proposition 8's reversal who were married in San Francisco City Hall on Friday, hours after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed same-sex marriages to resume.

    Sally Abolitz, 53, of Pacifica was holding a sign that read "Engaged: 30 years, married 3 days!" Abolitz and her spouse Catherine Mehrling rushed to San Francisco City Hall to get married in front of their five children on Friday evening.

    Mehrling described the U.S. Supreme Court rulings as "bittersweet" since a majority of other states have yet to legalize same-sex marriage.

    A group of five people walked in the parade wearing masks of the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted that sponsors of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling in the case.

    San Francisco resident Sara Cohbra watched the parade with her husband and two young children who were waving rainbow flags.

    "One of the reasons we live in the city is so everyone can celebrate who they are," she said.

    Along the parade route many people were holding signs that read "Free Bradley Manning." Manning was a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst whose nomination as a Grand Marshal for this year's parade was revoked last month by the San Francisco Pride Board of Directors.

    Couples marching with Marriage Equality USA clasped their partner's hands in the parade and some were holding signs that showed how many years they have been together.

    This year's celebration held more significance than other years for Berkeley resident Jose Consuelo.

    "The energy is very different. As a community we're celebrating why we're here. It's a beautiful thing," he said.