Gay-marriage plaintiff celebrates at Pride parade – USA TODAY
CINCINNATI â The black convertible held the man of the hour, or maybe the decade.
Jim Obergefell, the man who forced the Supreme Court to make the country live up to its creed of equality for all, waved and, despite his pleas that he had no more tears, cried.
Every year the Cincinnati Pride parade has grown bigger and drawn more people.
But no year was like this year.
The day after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, Saturday’s parade drew thousands of people downtown looking to celebrate.
“Love wins” was written on dozens of signs, the gratitude toward Obergefell on everyone’s minds.
The self-effacing Cincinnati realtor was greeted like a conquering hero, with cheers and tears and smiles and thanks.
Walking along side his car were Pam and Nicole Yorksmith, who live in Northern Kentucky and were among eight plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case.
“It’s amazing to be here with my Cincinnati family,” Nicole Yorksmith said. They walked with their two children, Orion, 1, who wore a T-shirt with the words “SCOTUS baby” on it, and his brother, Grayden, 4, in colorful knee socks with the word “peace” on them.
The parade was a visual reminder of how far the city has come. In 1993 voters passed Article XII, which prohibited any effort to grant protected status based on sexual orientation. Voters repealed the article in 2004. But it was only in recent years city officials worked to include and embrace the LGBT community.
The parade itself used to be seen as a neighborhood celebration.
In 2010, as it grew, it moved downtown. There it could show off the city’s progress and draw people from the region.
Last year the city scored a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, making Cincinnati one of the most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-friendly cities in the country.
“Seeing this is incredible,” said City Councilman Chris Seelbach, the city’s first openly gay councilman, the one who has led many initiatives that have made Cincinnati so inclusive. “It truly is a celebration of all we’ve accomplished. I am proud of our city.”
Along the parade route people waved rainbow flags, were draped in colorful beads and cheered. There were families, large groups of friends and couples.
For the first time the transgender community marched in the parade.
Historically they had information tables at the Pride festival. It never seemed safe to actually participate in the parade, said Lindsey Deaton, an advocate for the community.
“Post Leelah we can emerge from the shadows and tell our truth,” Deaton said. “I’m confident Leelah would have been thrilled.”
Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen from Kings Mills, committed suicide last December. The note she left behind galvanized the world, helping pave the way for transgender acceptance.
Some in the parade wore bright pink T-shirts saying “Fix Society â Leelah Alcorn”, Leelah’s final words.
It was a sea of flags: Rainbow ones, one depicting equal signs and the American flag. The Human Rights Campaign flag was so large, it took dozens of people to carry it.
The handful of protesters were peaceful, but ignored.
“Today is about all people being equal,” said Ari Shifman, 23, of Amberley Village, who came to celebrate with friends.
And it was also about being a part of history.
Gary Goodman, a marriage equality advocate who now intends to marry because of the ruling, summed it up like this: “We’re ecstatic, not just for us, but for everyone. What happened here is history. We made history.”
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