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New York Gay Pride March celebrates anniversary of legal marriages

NEW YORK--Tens of thousands celebrated the first anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage in New York state at the annual Gay Pride March Sunday.

“Let's celebrate. We have a lot to celebrate,” said singer Cyndi Lauper, 59, the parade's grand marshal, “Everybody can be married in New York.”

“Happy anniversary,” read one sign, in a sea of rainbow flags.

“Thank you, Governor Cuomo,” another sign read, referring to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who signed same-sex marriage legislation on June 24, one year ago.

U.S. President Barack Obama declared in a national address in May that he personally felt same-sex couples should have the right to be married. Marchers supporting Obama's statement wore T-shirts saying “Obama pride.”

From nearby New Jersey, marchers Chet Kabara and Frank Mahood, a couple for 29 years, said Obama's support for gay marriage made this event “very special.”

“It is the first time that anyone at that level of our government has recognized the legitimacy of our relationship,” explained Mahood, 73. Mahood feels that the next step should be the annulment of a 1996 federal law on marriage, stipulating that marriage is a union between a man and woman.

“Full equality,” a large banner floating down 5th Avenue demanded.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, participated in the march, as well as Christine Quinn, speaker of City Council. Quinn, 45, was joined by her wife Kim Catullo. The two women have been married since May 2011.

“It is especially important to be here this year,” said one spectator, Christine Weimer, 21, who came with a friend Jacqueline, 15, to “support the community.”

Some 45 floats rolled down to Greenwich Village, and thousands participated in the parade, including, for the first time, military personnel.

Since autumn 2011, a law permits them to openly disclose their sexual orientation.

Despite all the serious political messages, the ambiance was one of festivity, with extravagant costumes, dancers and multicolored wigs dotting the parade route.

Wearing a white straw boater with a rainbow ribbon, Frank Mahood celebrated the advancements of the past few years, even if he still can't get married in New Jersey.

Mahood has been at every parade since 1971.

“It was much more of a protest. We couldn't walk on 5th Avenue. Today, it's much more of a celebration.”

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, center left, and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, center right, march in the New York City Gay Pride March, Sunday, June 24.(AFP)

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