S.F. Pride Parade has different feel following Prop. 8 decision 

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in downtown San Francisco to watch the 43rd annual Pride Parade on Sunday had even more to celebrate this year.

The weekend's festivities came after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the dismissal of an appeal in the Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban case and ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

The LGBT community and supporters gathered on Market Street to cheer on more than 200 groups who participated in this year's parade, including dignitaries, city departments and several Bay Area organizations.

A motorcade of around 200 motorcycles kicked off the parade, which made its way from Market and Beale streets to Civic Center Plaza.

Following the motorcycles were contingents of costumed bicyclists from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the AIDS Lifecycle.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom walked the route and shook hands with the people while holding his daughter, Montana, who was waving a rainbow flag.

"This is such a historical day," Larkspur resident Jan Jones said. "We aren't separate but equal."

Jones, 75, and her partner, Judi Provance, 70, were married in San Francisco City Hall in 2008 before Prop. 8 was passed by voters. They attributed the recent Supreme Court rulings to Newsom, who permitted the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples while he was mayor of San Francisco in 2004.

"Without Gavin Newsom's courage, we wouldn't be here," Jones said.

Other dignitaries in the parade included state Attorney General Kamala Harris; U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee; San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon; and city Treasurer Jose Cisneros.

Cheers erupted for Kris Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Prop. 8's reversal who were married in San Francisco City Hall on Friday, hours after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed same-sex marriages to resume. On Sunday, the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder's Office announced that since that decision by the appeals court, 563 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in The City and 479 same-sex marriage licenses have been recorded.

Sally Abolitz, 53, of Pacifica was holding a sign that read "Engaged: 30 years, married 3 days!" Abolitz and her spouse Catherine Mehrling rushed to San Francisco City Hall to get married in front of their five children Friday evening.

Mehrling described the U.S. Supreme Court rulings as "bittersweet" since a majority of other states have yet to legalize same-sex marriage.

A group of five people walked in the parade wearing masks of the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted that sponsors of Prop. 8 did not have legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling in the case.

San Francisco resident Sara Cohbra watched the parade with her husband and two young children, who were waving rainbow flags.

"One of the reasons we live in The City is so everyone can celebrate who they are," she said.

Along the parade route many people were holding signs that read "Free Bradley Manning." Manning was a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst whose nomination as a grand marshal for this year's parade was revoked last month by the San Francisco Pride board of directors.

Couples marching with Marriage Equality USA clasped their partner's hands in the parade and some were holding signs that showed how many years they have been together.

This year's celebration held more significance than other years for Berkeley resident Jose Consuelo.

"The energy is very different," he said. "As a community we're celebrating why we're here. It's a beautiful thing."

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