Last edited: December 06, 2004

NY Gay Pride Marchers Cheer New Hero: Supreme Court

New York Daily News, June 29, 2003
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The Associated Press

Thousands of parade-goers filled Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Sunday with cheers for the gay-rights movement’s unlikely new hero—the U.S. Supreme Court.

The annual Heritage of Pride parade took place just days after the high court struck down a ban on gay sex, ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

“Let’s hear it for gay pride,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., bellowed through a megaphone as he marched down the avenue. “Let’s even hear it for the Supreme Court—who ever thought we’d say that?”

Both sides of the parade route—from midtown to Greenwich Village—were lined with revelers, pumping their fists jubilantly in time with disco music blaring from floats. Many waved rainbow flags, the symbol of the gay-rights movement.

The parade has a reputation for flamboyance, and Sunday’s event didn’t disappoint. It featured a colorful procession of lesbian motorcyclists, fluffy pink boas and floats swaying with shimmying drag queens.

Still, parade-goers couldn’t stop talking about the Supreme Court.

“It’s a critically important step toward bringing full dignity and rights to gay people,” said Ana Oliveira, executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, marching with her AIDS prevention group.

One couple from Houston, in town for the parade, wore pink stickers with the slogan “My bedroom, my business” on their shirts.

“It’s incredible for us because now we’re legal,” said Randy Roll, a lawyer, accompanied by his partner, Damon Crenshaw. “There was always the fear that you would break the law if you had sex with your partner.”

Marty Downs, community organizer with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Manhattan, said: “(The parade) hasn’t felt political in a long time. This year, there’s such a resonance, such a sense of movement.”

Not that all the politics precluded fun.

Some men in the crowd of spectators wore multicolored leis and long strings of faux pearls as they cheered floats. A woman smiled as she waved a modified U.S. flag, its red and white stripes replaced by colors of the rainbow.

Small pockets of anti-gay protesters—some holding rosary beads and praying—stood behind police barricades at the route’s start near Rockefeller Center.

“Homosexuality causes a defocusing of the family unit,” said Jeffrey Smith, 45, from Brooklyn, standing near the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Parade participants cheered and shook their fists at him and other protesters, who responded by raising signs that read “Worse sin” and “Rosary Rally.”

But the mood was mostly jubilant.

“We are not lesbians, but we like the costumes and the dancing,” said Lurdes Cortes, 44, who was visiting New York from Barcelona, Spain.

She came to the parade with her daughter, Ona Estape, 13.

“We think this is very American,” she said in faltering English. “This is, as you say, freedom.”

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