Chicago Pride Parade gets political, draws record 1M crowd

Spectators watch as parade floats and entertainers pass by at the Chicago Gay Pride Parade Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)
February 6, 2014 8:21:06 AM PST
More than 1 million people attended Chicago's Pride Parade, many holding signs calling for Illinois lawmakers to legalize gay marriage.

PHOTOS: 2013 Pride Parade

Local efforts to legalize are stalled, so many marchers and watchers -- fueled by the recent rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of gay marriage -- got political during the 2013 Chicago Pride Parade in Lakeview on Sunday afternoon.

"I think people if they want to get married to someone they love, I believe they are entitled to that option," Adam Rezka, parade goer, said.

"It's only a matter of time, everything happens for a reason, eventually [it] will pass," Veronica Jimenez, parade goer, said.

Wearing hope sashes and carrying signs that read, "It will happen," men and women dressed as brides and thousands of others put pressure on Illinois politicians to legalize gay marriage soon.

Illinois advocates of gay marriage started the year with intense momentum and received backing from President Barack Obama and the state's top political leaders. The measure cleared the Illinois Senate on Valentine's Day but bill sponsor Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris decided not to call a vote in the House because he didn't have the needed support.

Harris was one of several politicians at the parade Sunday. He said he will bring back the issue in the fall. He said the Supreme Court's rulings have resonated with his colleagues in the Illinois House.

"The Supreme Court's decision has made it so clear, so obvious that treating one family with less equality is wrong in America," Harris said.

"All of us in Illinois who are committed to the cause understand it will happen, should happen as soon as possible," Gov. Pat Quinn said.

Earlier this year, Illinois' measure was met with fierce opposition from prominent churches that vowed to fight it, saying marriage is between a man and woman. But those protesters were sparse among the rainbow-colored revelers that lined the route, watching the 200 floats and balloons march by.

First-time attendee Catherine Gallagher, 25, of suburban Chicago came with a group of friends. She was adorned with glitter and leopard-print, rainbow headbands. Though she is straight, Gallgher said she supports her gay friends.

"Everybody should have the right to choose who they want to marry," she said.

Chicago's Pride Parade has grown every year, just as support for gay marriage has grown from lawmakers. Former NFL player Wade Davis, who came out as gay after his retirement 9 years ago, was the parade's grand marshal.

"I could never imagine being the grand marshal," Davis said. "[It's] beyond words."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.


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