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NYC Pride Marchers Celebrate Passage of Marriage Equality Bill

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Sunday June 26, 2011

New Yorkers who marched in the city's annual Pride march earlier on Sunday, June 26, had two words for legislators who passed the marriage equality bill: Thank you.

Alan Van Capelle, former executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, specifically thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he marched among the New Yorkers United for Marriage contingent. Many others who marched with the coalition held signs that read "Thank You Governor Cuomo" and "Promise Kept!"

"For many, it was a lifetime of struggles that has been realized," said Van Capelle.

Cuomo, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Gov. David Paterson, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell [D-Manhattan], Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson were among the current and former elected officials who marched down Fifth Avenue towards Greenwich Village.

Cathy Marino-Thomas of Marriage Equality New York had just left her daughter Jackie's fifth grade graduation ceremony when the state Senate passed the marriage equality measure by a 33-29 margin. She watched the vote on her wife Sheila's phone while pulled over on a Manhattan street. "It was a really intense and emotional day for our family," Marino-Thomas told EDGE before the Pride parade. "It was amazing to wake up on Saturday morning and feel equal."

Sheila Marino-Thomas added her daughter told her parents that the passage of the marriage equality bill was "the best graduation present she ever had in her life."

Other marchers carried signs that read "Love makes a family", "Thirty years engaged, let's get married", "Love finally rules in New York" "Would Jesus discriminate?", "Love has no gender", "NY4=, Your move California" and "Marriage is so gay." Doctor Marjorie Hill, chief executive officer of Gay Men's Health Crisis, wore a wedding veil as she marched with the GMHC contingent. Several other pride marchers donned bridal gowns. And one woman who marched with Harlem United even wore a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

A group of gay Republicans also carried signs that specifically thanked state Sens. Mark Grisanti [R-Buffalo], Roy McDonald [R-Saratoga] and Jim Alesi [R-Rochester] for supporting the marriage equality bill.

"This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my life," said Jo Deutsch, who traveled from Maryland to attend the parade. "I'm so happy to be here."

Queens resident Brandon Brock said he breathed a sigh of relief after legislators passed the marriage equality bill. Another Queens resident pointed out the federal Defense of Marriage Act remains in effect.

"Now we have to work on the federal issues," he said.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.