March Celebrates Ruling
Sentinel, June 29, 2003
633 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL 32801
Fax: 407-420-5286 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Alicia A. Caldwell, Sentinel Staff Writer
“We are legal,” the sign read in black, block
The sign was simple—black marker on white poster
board—but hugely significant to Jeffrey Miller, an Orlando attorney and
openly gay man. The three words represented what Miller called “the most
passionate opinion I’ve ever read.”
Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down a
Texas sodomy law was the hot topic at Saturday’s soggy Central Florida Pride
2003 parade and celebration. Miller, who marched in the parade with hundreds
of other gays and lesbians, said the timing of the decision was significant.
The 6-3 landmark decision, which protects the privacy
rights of gays and lesbians, was handed down two days before the annual
celebration, which was not scheduled to coincide with the court’s decision.
“It’s either an incredible coincidence or it’s a
gift from the Supreme Court,” Miller said.
Others in attendance at Saturday’s parade and
celebration in downtown Orlando echoed Miller’s thoughts.
About an hour before the 7 p.m. parade, Carlos Velázquez,
director of programming for the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual &
Transgender Organization in Washington, D.C., said it was interesting that
former Sen. Strom Thurmond, long known for his views on segregation, died on
the same day that the Supreme Court ruled.
“Maybe there is a shifting in the political paradigm .
. . one that hopefully will die forever,” said Velázquez, whose group set
up an information table at Church Street. The ruling, he said, is “on the
top of everybody’s mind [here] because it is a fundamental stand on
But he said the decision will not immediately change the
opinions of those prejudiced against homosexuals.
“No law is going to change cultural attitudes,” but
it’s a start, Velázquez said.
Velázquez’s words seemed almost prophetic a short time
later. As the parade inched along Orange Avenue toward Church Street, two
Ocoee brothers stood praying, reading Scripture and appealing to the hordes of
gays and lesbians to “repent” and be saved by faith.
“No Supreme Court, no city government . . . can change
the law of God,” Charles Norris, 43, said as passing revelers jeered him.
“It’s not a popular thing to tell the truth.”
Though politics and religion were present, the focus of
Saturday’s event—pride—was not lost on any of the event’s
participants, including City Council member Patty Sheehan.
Sheehan, who is lesbian, proudly proclaimed that she was
wearing her first pair of leather pants as she piloted a small scooter behind
a group of more menacing motorcycles.
“This is great,” Sheehan shouted as she sped off to
close a gap in the parade.
Also in attendance Saturday was fellow City Council
member Daisy Lynum, who cruised along Orange Avenue in the back of a
convertible Ford Mustang adorned with rainbow flags.
Comedian and writer Bruce Vilanch, known for his bright
red glasses and bushy blond hair, served as the grand marshal for Saturday’s
Despite intermittent rain showers, hundreds of onlookers
lined Orange Avenue from Concord to Church streets for the parade and filled
Church Street for a party afterward.
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