SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gay rights supporters crowded parade routes in San Francisco, New York and other major U.S. cities Sunday to celebrate what once was unimaginable — two Supreme Court victories on same-sex marriage.
The high court gave celebrants one more reason to cheer Sunday when Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected a last-ditch effort by opponents to stop gay marriages in California.
Among the thousands at San Francisco's event, now in its 43rd year, were scores of teenage girls, opposite-sex couples and families with children.
"You can feel the smiles," Graham Linn, 42, of Oakland said as he stood on a three-foot-tall building ledge surveying crowds 10-deep on the sidewalks. "All around you there is a release. There is a vindication, and you can feel it."
The biggest applause went up for the two newlywed couples whose legal challenge of Proposition 8 made it possible for Californians to wed.
The couples — Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank — waved from convertibles as a group of people carried cartoon-style signs that read, "Prop. 8-Kapow!"
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, who orchestrated the lawsuit, and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for the movie about the slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk, marched with them.
"It's so historic," Jeff Margolis, 58, said. "So many of us could never imagine this would happen, that people would be able to do what they want for the rest of their lives."
Loud cheers went to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Kamala Harris — straight politicians who have been vocal advocates of same-sex marriage.
San Francisco's parade lineup illustrated how mainstream support for same-sex marriage has become. Companies such as Facebook and supermarket chain Safeway were represented. Police officers and sheriff's deputies marched while holding hands.