June 30, 2013

Big crowds turn out for gay pride parades

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Grand Marshal Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old woman at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision granting gay couples federal marriage benefits, is surrounded by well wishers during the gay pride march in New York Sunday.

The Associated Press

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In another first, the Seattle Mariners flew a rainbow flag – the symbol of gay pride first unfurled during San Francisco's parade in 1978 – during their game Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.

The Supreme Court wins motivated many first-time pride parade spectators, including Michael Pence, 53, and John Moehnke, 46, a North Carolina couple who are engaged, attended Chicago's annual Pride Parade for the first time, saying they were thrilled about the Supreme Court's decisions.

The couple from North Carolina planned to marry in New York in the fall, but want to see gay marriage extended to other states including Illinois, where they attended the parade with a church group.

"We have such a long way to go but we're ready for the fight," Moehnke said.

Efforts to legalize gay marriage in Illinois have stalled. Advocates started the year with intense momentum and received backing from President Barack Obama and Illinois' top political leaders. The measure cleared the Illinois Senate on Valentine's Day, state Rep. Greg Harris, the bill's sponsor, decided not to call a vote in the House because he didn't have the needed support.

Harris was one of several politicians at the parade Sunday. He said he would bring back the issue in the fall, adding that the Supreme Court's rulings have resonated with his colleagues in the Illinois House.

"Illinois is in a truly second-class status until we pass marriage equality," Harris said.

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