Dancing, cheering and toting placards, gay rights supporters took to the streets in huge numbers at annual gay pride parades across the United States, with attendance boosted by recent Supreme Court rulings in support of same-sex marriage.
Celebrations were held on Sunday in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis and other cities by marchers energised by the top court's rulings extending federal benefits to married homosexual couples and striking down a ban on same-sex marriage in California.
In San Francisco, two couples who sued to overturn the Californian ban led nearly one million people in one of the biggest parades in years. Some people carried signs that read "Thank you, Supreme Court!".
The two couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, got married on Friday, hours after the ban was lifted. On Sunday, crowds cheered as they rode through the parade in a baby-blue convertible trailing rainbow-coloured cans. Some in the crowd wore bridal dresses and tuxedos.
In New York, Edith Windsor, whose lawsuit prompted the court's decision to grant gay couples federal benefits, was among the grand marshals leading the march down Fifth Avenue. Windsor, 84, recalled her late spouse, Thea Clara Spyer, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, before leading the parade to shouts of "Edie". "Thea, in her wheelchair, and I would watch the parade together every year," she said.
The pride parades mark the Stonewall riots in 1969, when a police raid on New York's Stonewall Inn set off protests that popularised the slogan, "Out of the closet and into the streets" and ushered in the gay rights movement. Organisers of the parades in several cities said they planned for large turnouts after the court issued its rulings last Wednesday.
The rulings came amid rapid progress for advocates of same-sex marriage in recent years in the US and internationally.
On Sunday, supporters of gay marriage also cheered news that a US Supreme Court justice rejected a long-shot bid to halt same-sex marriages in California.
Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the request from supporters of the Californian gay marriage ban, known as Proposition 8.
On the streets of New York, many people heralded the rulings. "It's awesome," said Howard Tran, a paediatric nurse who attended with his husband and their five-month-old twins.