Amid rush of weddings, San Francisco Pride celebrates its history

Same-sex marriage supporters wave pride flags from a car Wednesday as they drive by the corner of Market and Castro in San Francisco.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO -- For weeks now, San Francisco has been preparing for this weekend. Rainbow banners have flown over the city’s famous Castro district, grand marshals have been handpicked for the parade, a rainbow of paints bound for waving posters has been flying off store shelves.

But few expected a weekend quite like this, when San Francisco’s landmark gay pride festival and parade will coincide with two major Supreme Court victories and a surprise ruling that allowed the first same-sex marriages in California since 2008 to begin immediately.

Pride weekend was getting a “tremendous boost” from the court decisions, said state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who once worked with famed gay rights activist and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.


“It’s something long awaited,” he said. “And you get it at an auspicious time. It will always be remembered.”

Pride weekend in San Francisco, celebrating its 43rd year, is about being visible as a gay community, Ammiano said.

“Harvey Milk said, ‘Come out, come out,’ ” Ammiano said. “I don’t think he realized how we would come out -- like a cannonball.”

Ammiano remembers the days when the pride parade was more of a rushed affair. There were no cheering crowds. Instead, he was charged by a man waving a Bible.

While marriage was occasionally discussed during the time he worked with Milk, it wasn’t a top priority at a time when politicians were trying to ban gays from being teachers, said Ammiano.

He served as a San Francisco supervisor and ran for mayor after Milk was assasinated, even sitting in the same chair. His previous partner of 17 years passed away nearly two decades ago. Now he’s with a new partner.


“We’re not married. But it’s definitely on the radar,” he said. “We’re afflicted with mad vow disease.”


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