Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gay Marriage Bill is new reason to celebrate Pride

Gay marriage bill is new reason to celebrate gay pride as parade approaches

By Karen Matthews

3:51 a.m. June 23, 2007

NEW YORK – New York's gay pride parade is traditionally a mix of politics and campy pageantry, and the state Assembly's move toward legalizing same-sex marriage has heightened the atmosphere this year.
But parade organizers are smarting over the city's rejection of a request to hold a street fair in an area with the city's heaviest concentration of gay-oriented businesses.

The parade, set for Sunday on Fifth Avenue, is one of dozens that take place annually around the world. It commemorates the 1969 Stonewall uprising, in which patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar resisted a police raid.

Dennis Spafford, a spokesman for parade organizers Heritage of Pride, said he expects a million marchers and spectators at this year's parade, which comes five days after the Democratic-controlled Assembly passed the gay marriage bill, 85-61.

Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer supports the measure, but the Republican-led state Senate is not expected to act on it any time soon. Massachusetts is the only U.S. state that has legalized same-sex marriage so far.

“We are now more sure than ever that New York will do the equal and just thing,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, co-executive director of Marriage Equality New York, a group that promotes legalizing gay marriage.

For the past 14 years, the gay pride parade has been followed by Pridefest, a West Village street fair with hundreds of vendors. But it became increasingly difficult to accommodate tens of thousands of marchers spilling into the Village's narrow streets and lingering for the fair.

Heritage of Pride applied for a permit to hold this year's Pridefest on Saturday on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, a neighborhood known for its gay-oriented businesses. City officials said there was a freeze on new street fair applications.

“We understand there's a moratorium on new events,” Spafford said. “This isn't a new event.”

Rather than keep the festival in the Village, organizers decided not to hold it at all.

The parade starts in Midtown and proceeds down Fifth Avenue to the Village, featuring a jumble of drag queens in feather boas, marching bands, motorcycle-riding lesbians and contingents of gay police officers, law students, rugby players and samba dancers.

Contingents from more than a dozen churches and religious organizations will march near the head of the parade.


1 comment:

Bubba said...

See my take on gay marriage at