Reporting Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — From a foam party float to a marriage proposal — this year’s Twin Cities Pride Festival was one of joy and celebration for gay rights advocates.
The festival, which culminated Sunday with a parade, celebrated passage of a new law that legalized same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Paradegoers also praised last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that extends federal benefits to same-sex couples in states where their marriages are legal.
For Anthony Wright and Phillip Hernandez of St. Cloud, it’s been a long time coming.
“We’ve been engaged for years. But without really planning anything because we wanted to get married where we lived in Minnesota,” Wright said.
As of May that dream is reality in Minnesota. It’s something that a year ago seemed impossible.
Organizers say last year’s parade felt like a rally, where gay marriage advocates carried signs urging others to “Vote No” for an amendment that would have banned same-sex marriages in the state. That amendment failed.
“This year is all about celebration. Last year was so heavy on ‘Vote No.’ This year, we decided, let’s just go with it. We got freedom to marry bill, DOMA. Let’s just have fun, celebrate everyone who worked so hard to make this a reality,” Ryan McElnaney, a Pride spokesman, said.
This year, the Pride parade had more of a party atmosphere.
The festival was complete with a “Save the Date Wedding Showcase,” where same-sex couples got wedding planning advice. There was also at least one marriage proposal.
Former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe, an outspoken advocate for gay rights, was the parade’s grand marshal. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau participated in the event.
Minnesota’s first same-sex weddings will take place Aug. 1.
The Twin Cities Pride Festival has drawn about 300,000 people in recent years, and organizers expected to top that this year. Official attendance numbers were not immediately available Sunday.
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