The LGBT community has always come out in large numbers for the city’s annual pride parade, but with this week’s historic Supreme Court decision that gave them more rights, this year’s celebration was more akin to a victory jubilation.
Tens of thousands of revelers from all over the world packed Fifth Avenue and Greenwich Village to show off their pride and rejoice in the community’s new rights.
Janice Gehlmeyer, 60, of Manhattan, and her partner, Christine Herman, 58, come to the parade every year, but this year was particularly special to them because of Wednesday's decision.
"We never thought that we'd live to see this," Herman said. "We've come a long way."
Edith Windsor, the winning plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that challenged the Defense Of Marriage Act, was chosen as a parade grand marshal.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA, declaring that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.
The march was one of several events that the New York based Heritage of Pride group is hosting for Pride Week. Officials with the group have said they expected about 2 million attended Sunday's festivities.
Ken Loury, 44, of Morris County, N.J. was attending the parade with his 18-year-old daughter, who is gay, and her friends. He said that while he would have attended no matter what, Wednesday's ruling makes it even more special.
"We're here for fun and to celebrate," he said.
The parade also drew participants from outside New York, such as Cathleen Brazile, 62, of Dallas. She came with her son, Erin, 29, and his partner, Robert Hernandez. Of Windsor, she said: "She helped to make it possible that they can be married and recognized. She's a hero."
Amanda Gaeta, 24, of the Upper West Side, said she is not gay but "after the legislation and the court rulings, I just wanted to come out and celebrate . . . My hope that it will be accepted socially not just legislatively."
The only openly gay mayoral contender, Christine Quinn, was endorsed by Windsor at a news conference before the parade, which started at noon.
"This is the happiest of all pride days," said Quinn.
"I cannot say it enough. Edie, you have changed the world," she said, addressing Windsor.
"I've been marching for years," Windsor said. "I never dreamed of being the grand marshal."
"Everything is different," she said. "It's a thrilling experience for this old lady."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the law that legalized gay marriage two years ago, said he too was pleased that the nation is following suit when it comes to improved gay rights.
“It’s been a great parade for the last few years…but this is different. This is national recognition and equality as a whole,” he said.
“It’s great our society has evolved on the issue.