In New York, A Celebration Of Gay-Marriage Law

June 26, 2011

Margot Adler

Hundreds of thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue from Midtown all the way down to Greenwich Village on Sunday for the one of the world's oldest and largest gay-pride parades. But this parade takes place less than two days after New York Gov. Andrew Coumo signed New York's new marriage-equality law, making the state the sixth to grant full marriage rights to gay couples.

Minutes before the parade kicked off, Cuomo was cheered as he held a brief news conference. New York, he said, has always been a progressive beacon for the country.

"I believe New York has sent a message to this nation loud and clear: It is time for marriage equality all across this country," he said.

The march was led off by a fleet of gay couples on motorcycles. There were columns of rainbow balloons, floats from corporations, a gospel choir from a largely gay church congregation and the New York Police Department's band playing the obvious song, "New York, New York."

Many of the signs held by the crowd, or those marching in the parade, were different this year: "Thank You, Governor Cuomo," and "Promise Kept" were two signs that were everywhere, as were rainbow flags and flags with an equals sign. Few protesters were anywhere to be seen. Back in one section of the crowd, behind steel barricades, you could see a sign with the Ten Commandments and another saying, "Jesus Saves From Hell."

Besides flag twirlers and a few drag queens, there were floats from schools and civil rights groups.

Corrections officer Monica Campo marched in the parade wearing a T-shirt that said, "Against Gay Marriage? Don't Marry One." She was with her wife Lorraine Campo. The couple had married in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal.

"We are just happy to be here this historic day," she said.

Not everybody was about to tie the knot. Aaron Monteabaro and Russell Lamendola were marching with a sign for Baruch College where Monteabaro had just graduated.

Monteabaro said it was "too soon" to be married.

"I would marry him in a heartbeat," Lamendola said.

Many in the parade were not simply celebrating.

Jack Rojas, who was marching with the Human Rights Campaign, said he had been at this parade perhaps 30 times. His eye was on the federal marriage law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

"We need ... federal recognition in all civil matters," he said. "We pay taxes like everybody else. We are your brothers, your sisters, your sons, your daughters, your co-workers, and we need to be treated as we deserve, equally."

Leah Modigliani was there with her two girls who are in elementary school. The girls had rainbows painted on their faces.

"We are so happy about gay marriage," she said, cheering. She added that she had brought her girls since they were babies.

"I am already married to a man ... and we are a more traditional family, but we really, strongly believe it is important for families of all kind to have the right to get married," she said.

Her friend Pamela Morris was also there with her two girls. She has a female partner of 17 years.

"Now we can finally get married for real," she said. "Absolutely going to do it officially."

City Hall is gearing up. There is already a question-and-answer section on it website. The first licenses should be ready in about 28 days.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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