By Jesse Brooks San Francisco’s 43rd annual Gay Pride celebration drew over 1.5 million people in a jubilant expression of the theme, “Embrace, Encourage, Empower,” as crowds danced in the streets, turbo charged by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on Prop. 8, which allow same sex marriage in the state. Crowdsalso celebrated the decision knocking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Pride marks the anniversary of the 1969 New York Stone Wall riot, the first time gays and lesbians stood up to police harassment. New York laws prohibited homosexuality in public spaces, and businesses and other gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down. One year after the riots, the first Pride marches were held in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. San Francisco’s parade is recognized as one of the largest in the world. The parade down Market Street on Sunday was the main event, led by Dykes on Bikes, the first contingent in the event since 1976. Floats carrying Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom – who opened the door to same sex marriage while mayor of SF – Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee paraded down Market. Harris, honored as a community grand marshal, recently said, “I am proud to continue the fight to protect the civil rights of all Californians, including our friends in the LGBT community. It is an honor to be invited to participate in my hometown S.F. Pride as a community grand marshal.” There were also contingents from companies, government departments, non-profits, schools and churches. Crowds gathered at Civic Center where festivities included more than 300 vendors, artists, music and comedy acts on stages. Entertainment included the City of Refuge choir featuring Bishop Yvette Flunder, R&B sensations Peaches and Herbs and pop duo Nina Sky. Female Hip Hop rapper Eve headlined the city’s signature Pride party. Celebrating 43 years of increased LGBT visibility, dignity and equality, the historic court decisions seem to move the LGBT community one step closer to obtaining the basic rights for the ultimate future of the LGBT community.
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