More than 1 million people are anticipated to swell into San Francisco for The City’s annual Pride celebration this weekend. And this one is special.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States, thanks to a Friday Supreme Court ruling. And now the usual Pride parade is expected to swell with even more, well, pride.
“I’m absolutely brimming with pride that the Supreme Court got it right on this momentous occasion,” said local drag performer Juanita MORE! “That I can relish this victory with my community in my hometown of San Francisco, one of the birthplaces of the modern gay rights movement, during Pride weekend makes it that much sweeter.”
The marriage ruling is twofold, deciding the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and that states must recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states. The court ruled by a 5-4 vote.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion. “As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death … They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Many San Franciscans in front of City Hall Friday said that passage, the closing paragraph of the majority opinion, moved them to tears.
On Friday, San Francisco’s Castro district came alive. People whooped and hollered, and cars honked as they rode by.
“We finally have equality, we’ve made significant strides,” said San Francisco resident Mike Gatewood. “I am ecstatic.”
“We’re not married and we may never be married,” said Castro resident Britt Candell, who was holding her partner Erin Antunez’s hand as she spoke. “But that we have the right to get married means a lot to us.”
Thousands were expected to gather in the Castro for an impromptu celebration Friday night. The festivities, usually reserved for Sunday, would start early.
Outside City Hall, officials from across The City’s political spectrum stood united in celebration. Supervisor David Campos stood by his former Assembly race opponent David Chiu. Mayor Ed Lee thanked sometime political opponent Art Agnos for his work in the LGBT struggle. State Sen. Mark Leno thanked former mayor Willie Brown.
Friday was not a day of divisions, but of unity.
Speaking in front of City Hall, San Francisco’s former Mayor Gavin Newsom tried to put into words the feelings of seeing the fruition of his political risks — he famously set off a firestorm by marrying same-sex couples in City Hall in 2004.
“I’ve got three kids. It was an interesting thing, I’m new to parenting. The phone rang this morning at 7:03, and all I can think about is her,” he said, referring to his 5-year-old daughter. “How proud I am that she’ll grow up in a country that values each and every one of us.”
But no one riled the crowd like Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“Kate! Kate! Kate!” the crowd cried, as Kendell came to the podium.
“You! You! You!” she replied. She played a key role in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case that overturned Proposition 8 (the California gay marriage ban) at the Supreme Court, and has legally wrestled for LGBT rights across the United States for years.
“The relationships of same-sex couples enjoy the same dignity as everyone else,” she said. “Justice and love won today. Much of what we won today started here.”
Behind her nodded San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who also battled Proposition 8. “So now our charge,” she said, “is to harness this momentum so that everyone in our community can live fully and freely.”
Racism, economic inequality, transgender women of color, LGBT homeless youth, LGBT parents, those in detention centers, or even the “basic right to keep a job,” are all the next frontiers in LGBT civil rights, she said.
“No one is left behind,” she shouted, to cheers.