RACHEL MARTIN, host: In New York today, hundreds of thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue from Midtown all the way to Greenwich Village for one of the world's oldest and largest gay pride parades. But this year's event was different, coming a day and a half after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed that state's new marriage equality law. New York is now the sixth state, along with Washington, D.C., to grant full marriage rights to gay couples. NPR's Margot Adler was at the parade today and brought us this story.
MARGOT ADLER: Minutes before the parade kicked off, Governor Andrew Cuomo was cheered as he held a brief news conference. New York, he said, has always been a progressive beacon for the country.
Governor ANDREW CUOMO: I believe New York has sent a message to this nation loud and clear: It is time for marriage equality all across this country.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
ADLER: The march was led off by a fleet of gay couples on motorcycles. There were columns of rainbow balloons, floats from corporations, a gospel choir from a largely gay church congregation, and the New York Police Department's band playing the obvious song, "New York, New York."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEW YORK, NEW YORK")
ADLER: Many of the signs held by the crowd, or those marching in the parade, were different this year: Thank you, Governor Cuomo and Promise Kept were two signs that were everywhere, as were rainbow flags, and flags with an equal sign. Few protesters were anywhere to be seen. Back in one section of the crowd behind steel barricades, you could see a sign with the Ten Commandments and another saying Jesus Saves From Hell. Besides flag twirlers and a few drag queens, there were floats from schools and civil rights groups. I walked up to a woman in the parade wearing a T-shirt that said: Against Gay Marriage? Don't Marry One. She seemed to be marching with gay correction officers.
MONICA CAMPO: I am a correction officer. My name is Monica Campo, and that's my wife Lorraine Campo. And we're just happy to be here this historic day. Thank you very much.
ADLER: They had already gotten married in Massachusetts. Not everybody was about to tie the knot. Aaron Monteabaro and Russel Lamendola were marching with a sign for Baruch College, where Monteabaro had just graduated.
Do you plan to do anything about the new law?
AARON MONTEABARO: Undecided. Too soon.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
RUSSEL LAMENDOLA: I would marry him in a heartbeat.
ADLER: Many in the parade were not simply celebrating. Jack Rojas, who was marching with the Human Rights Campaign, said he had been at this parade perhaps 30 times. His eye was on the federal marriage law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
JACK ROJAS: We need, like, federal recognition in all civil matters. We pay taxes like everybody else. We're your brothers, your sisters, your sons, your daughters, your co-workers, and we need to be treated as we deserve, equally.
ADLER: Leah Modigliani was there with her two elementary school girls.
LEAH MODIGLIANI: We are so happy about gay marriage. Yay.
ADLER: Have your kids come every year?
MODIGLIANI: Yeah. We - they've come every year since they were babies. Look at - they put rainbows on their faces. I'm already married to a man, but we're - their father - we're a more traditional family, but we really, strongly believe it's important for families of all kinds to have the right to get married.
ADLER: Her friend, Pamela Morris, was also there with her two girls. But she has a female partner of 17 years.
PAMELA MORRIS: Now, we can finally get married for real. Absolutely going to do it officially.
ADLER: City hall is gearing up. There is already a question and answer section on their website. The first licenses should be ready in about 28 days. Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.
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