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Gays proud in NYC after Supreme Court victory

June 29, 2003

New York Gay Pride (Photo: AFP) NEW YORK - Tens of thousands took to the streets of New York on Sunday for the 34th annual Gay Pride Day, with celebrations sweetened by the US Supreme Court decision to knock down laws banning gay sex.

"I'm so emotional about all this stuff going on. We've been working so hard for so many years," parade co-director Tom Hom said.

Organizers refused to predict attendance, but the parade, which usually attracts close to half a million, could top that number, buoyed by recent victories for the movement.

"I'm so excited and joyous, but I know there's more work left to be done," Hom added.

The march in New York, one of the biggest in the world, was given added impetus by the ruling by the United States' highest court that sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

The march started at noon along Fifth Avenue and headed south toward Greenwich Village, site of the 1969 "Stonewall rebellion" against the repression of homosexuals. The movement grew, spawning pride parades in many US cities and around the world.

"When we come to events like this we get to be reminded of how diverse the population is," said one marcher.

"Some day the rest of the country is going to recognize the relationship. and I think that is really one step in that direction."

Gay and lesbian couples are also savoring Canada's recent decision to allow same-sex marriages. The US magazine Newsweek asked on its cover: "Is Gay Marriage Next?"

Conservative politicians stepped up to voice their opposition to same sex marriages however.

"Marriage is a sacrament ... traditionally in our Western values has been defined, as between a man and a woman," Bill Frist, the head of the Republican majority in the Senate, told ABC television Sunday.

On Thursday, the US Supreme Court struck down state laws banning gay sex between consenting adults, even in private.

The court decided that Texas could not punish two men arrested for having sex in a private apartment. The Supreme Court decision was acclaimed by gay rights groups but bitterly condemned by conservatives.

"The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime." the court said in its 6-3 decision, which struck down similar laws in all 13 states, some of which punished acts of oral or anal sex.

Texas was one of four US states where it had been a crime for members of the same sex to engage in sodomy. In Texas this was defined as oral or anal sex.

The challenge to the Texas statute started after sheriff's deputies in Harris County arrested John Lawrence and Tyron Garner when they were discovered having sex in Lawrence's apartment in September 1998.

- Sapa-AFP 

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