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Same-Sex Marriage on the Minds of Many at Pride Parade
By Sentinel News Service
Published June 18, 2009

The battle over same-sex marriage was on the minds of many who attended the 39th annual Pride Parade in West Hollywood, which celebrated the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. 

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom–who could soon be competing with each other for the Democratic nomination for governor–were both at the parade and both criticized the Obama administration’s defense of a federal law restricting same-sex marriage, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I think it’s a big mistake,” Newsom said of a Justice Department brief filed Thursday in support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I’m concerned about some of the arguments being made by the Justice Department,” Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa and Newsom also said they will seek the repeal of Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that barred same-sex marriage in California.

“We’re going to do everything we can, to put this issue back on the ballot,” Villaraigosa said.

The fight over same-sex marriage loomed over the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village that launched the modern gay rights movement.

Rodney Scott, president of Christopher Street West, the parade’s chief sponsor, told The Times he was “deeply saddened” by the Obama administration’s defense of the marriage law.

“That’s not the president I voted for,” he said.

Bill Rosendahl, a gay member of the Los Angeles City Council who supported Obama for president, told the newspaper he was “very upset with (Obama) on everything he’s done regarding us so far.”

White House spokesman Shin Inouye told The Times that in filing the brief, the Justice Department was following its usual policy of defending a law on the books in court.

But he added, “The president has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.”

He said Obama “remains fully committed” to his proposals on gay rights.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined Santa Monica Boulevard for the parade, which begin at 11 a.m. at Crescent Heights Boulevard and headed west to Robertson Boulevard, with more than 125 entries, including floats, bands, marching community advocacy groups and convertibles with honored guests.

E! Entertainment Television talk show host Chelsea Handler and her sidekick Chuy Bravo served as grand marshals. Handler was chosen for her visible and vocal support of equality, organizers said.

Organizations United Together West, a coalition of organizations that are representative of the communities they serve, was named as community grand marshal in recognition of its ability to unite and support communities on a grassroots level.

At noon, the parade stopped for a “Silent Celebration,” to remember individuals who fought for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, those who died from AIDS and breast, prostate, testicular or colon cancer, and “all of our loved ones who have passed on.”

The parade has been held every year since 1970, except for 1973 when infighting over crude displays the previous two years left the organizers in disarray. The parade was held in Hollywood until 1979, when it moved to its current location of West Hollywood.


Categories: Local

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