MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on Loring Park in Minneapolis this weekend to celebrate gay pride.

And after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, pride takes on a whole new meaning.

“I am so proud this morning,” said David Watson of Minneapolis. “This is something that I never realized would happen in my entire lifetime.”

In South Minneapolis, newlyweds Jack Thompson and Brian Forney called it a huge step forward.

“We’re just looking for the same type of respect, the same responsibility, as well as the privilege that comes with being a married couple,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Forney were married 14 months ago. They say legal status is important, but recognition and respect is critical.

“Everybody is starting to recognize that gay and lesbian couples really just want for our families what every family wants,” Thompson said.

Al and Jeff Giraud-Isaacson were the first male couple to be married in Minnesota in 2013. Two years later, they are celebrating gay and lesbian couples being able to marry in every state.

“It’s so much of a relief right now to know our marriage will be legal everywhere, whether this state has approved or not,” Jeff Giraud-Isaacson said.

The couple was among marriage equality supporters and leaders at an impromptu celebration at Mattie’s on Main in Minneapolis following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“You kind of felt the trend happening but it’s just a matter of time, it’s pretty quick,” Al Giraud-Isaacson said.

Ann Kaner-Roth spent the last seven years advocating for marriage equality at the state and national level. After Friday’s ruling, she closes a chapter in public policy.

“Marriage will prevail in all 50 states in the country,” she said. “We have reached the finish line on this issue. There’s much more work to do, but it really is a great day to celebrate.”

Friday is the kickoff to the annual Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis. The weekend offers a host of events, including a parade downtown and festivals in Loring Park.

Those planning to attend Twin Cities pride events say the ruling will make the weekend more special and impact generations to come.

“One of my favorite quotes today was from the campaign, ‘It gets better,'” Al Giraud-Isaacson said. “Well today it got better, and it got better for the younger people.”

Legally, not much changes for same-sex married couples in Minnesota, said Phil Duran, the legal director for OutFront, Minnesota’s largest LGBT organization.

But there’s a big impact outside the state.

“Minnesota couples who are married here can now travel to other states such as North Dakota or South Dakota without fear that their marriage won’t be recognized there,” Duran said.

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, Minnesota critics vowed to continue the fight.

“Today’s ruling further weakens the institution of marriage by making it about the desires of adults, rather than the good of children,” the  head of the conservative Minnesota Family Council, John Helmberger, said.

Minnesota voters rejected a same sex marriage ban in 2012. And the Minnesota legislature legalized same-sex marriage the next year, in 2013.

Pat Kessler

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