Revelers parade with heads held high

From “Rocky Horror Picture Show” to “Rhinestone Cowboy,” no pride parade soundtrack echoing through the chasm of Market Street summed up the year’s theme better than what blasted along the route toward City Hall.

As The Dixie Cups famously sang in the ’60s: “Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.”

Bridal veils and top hats were a common site among the revelers at The City’s 38th annual gay pride parade up Market Street. The theme for this year’s parade was “United for Pride, Bound for Equality.”

Politicians were also abundant, making it clear that San Francisco would be a fundraising capitol in the fight against Proposition 8, a November ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

At a breakfast before the parade, several Bay Area politicians, and a representative for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, raised funds to defeat the November initiative. The parade’s career achievement grand marshal, Police Commission President Theresa Sparks, called it the “most extensive fight” in the history of the LGBT community.

“Everybody’s very excited about defeating this amendment,” Sparks said. “The theme for this year’s parade really did hold true.”

But not everyone along the parade route supported same-sex marriage, which has been legal in California since June 16. One group of about a dozen protesters shouted through bullhorns near Powell Station, verbally sparring with the gathered crowd.

“Homosexuality is a sin, and what’s happening here is only promoting sexual immorality,” protestor Joaquin Benitez said.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who defied state law in 2004 by marrying same-sex couples at City Hall, received several ovations along the parade route.

Julie and Linda Kendall snapped a photo with Newsom, whom they thanked for his role in legalizing same-sex marriage. Together for 23 years, the Kendalls held a sign that read, “We’re here, we’re queer and we’re registered at Macy’s.”

“This isn’t a moral issue,” Julie Kendall said. “This is about civil rights. This is about love.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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