1 million celebrate at Pride Parade - New York News

1 million celebrate at Pride Parade

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Sunday's Pride Parade on Chicago's North Side, always a big celebration, fell at a time when the LGBT community is counting its victories and battles in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage.

While the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the struggle continues locally to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, marchers and paradegoers said.

"Both my sons deserve the right to marry," read a sign one woman carried in the parade. "Equality now!"

Chicago Police said about 1 million people lined the route of the 44th annual Pride Parade on Chicago's North Side on Sunday afternoon — a gathering organizers say is the biggest political and social event in the city's LGBT community, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The parade, featuring more than 200 floats, stepped off at noon at Broadway and Montrose and finished about three hours later near Diversey on Cannon Drive. The weather cooperated throughout with sunny, blue skies, a light breeze and temperatures in the mid-70s..

The parade comes just days after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and declined to rule on Proposition 8, a California ballot that banned same-sex marriage, which a federal court had overturned. Now, the LGBT community has its eye on the future of same-sex marriage in Illinois, which stalled after the Illinois House failed in May to vote on a bill.

That push for same-sex marriage was on full display at the parade. Two drag queens atop the float for Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, wore gowns and held bouquets, and one carried a sign stating, "It will happen!"

Herbert Dean, 35, was at the parade with the man he plans to marry, Alfredo Munoz. They live in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and will fly to Minnesota on Aug. 31; get married by a friend in the airport there, then fly back for a Chicago celebration.

Dean wishes he could just stay at home and get hitched.

"I was a little upset," Dean said. "I planned to have the whole wedding here and not fly out of town. We don't want a civil union, we want a wedding with bridesmaids and flower girls."

He thinks same-sex marriage will be legal in Illinois by the end of the year as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, which he says will embolden lawmakers.

"I think it will give a lot of states the push," Dean said.

Chicago resident Jeff Angevine, 55, said he thinks it will take two years for Illinois to legalize same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court decision will help lawmakers who live in more conservative districts vote for it, he said.

"It certainly should provide cover to people who are more squeamish," Angevine said. "It cleans up a lot of noise. All of them can see the writing on the wall."

Jack Ryan, 59, of Andersonville, was with Parents of and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a worldwide support organization. He said he was pleased by the court's rejection of DOMA but angry about the state of same-sex marriage in Illinois.

"I'm so embarrassed," said Ryan, who is gay. "We're in such a big, great city and we still don't have it. It's irritating and embarrassing and it's something we have to fight for."

Roger Fraser, the treasurer for the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago, stood on the corner near the start of the parade with a sign that criticized Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

"Mike Madigan, put your house in order," the sign read. "Pass the marriage equality bill."

"It's very sad, and it's typical of the cravenous Democrats in power," Fraser said.

At least a few elected leaders showed up to march in the parade: Gov. Pat Quinn was there, as was Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his family walked ahead of parade Grand Marshal Wade Davis, a former NFL player and activist who is openly gay.

Emanuel marched at a brisk pace, slapping hands of onlookers and blowing off the occasional boos that were yelled in his direction. Two critics of the mayor followed him down Broadway, booing him all the while.

And Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle threw out beads as she walked behind a boisterous Chicago Teachers Union float. Teachers carried signs that read "Teach Pride."

Chicago Fire Media Affairs said they treated 53 people who required medical attention at the parade.

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