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Court wins bolster gay pride events in Seattle and across country

Court wins bolster gay pride events in Seattle and across country
A giant marriage equality flag, with an "equal" symbol inside an outline of Washington state, flutters atop the Space Needle Sunday, June 30, 2013, in Seattle. The flag-raising was one of the events for the city's annual Gay Pride day, highlighted by a downtown parade later in the day. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A giant marriage equality flag, with an "equal" symbol inside an outline of Washington state, was raised atop the Space Needle Sunday in Seattle.

The flag-raising was one of the events for the city's annual Gay Pride day, highlighted by a downtown parade.

June Abbott Lighty and her wife, Pete-e Petersen, the first same sex couple to be granted a wedding license in Washington state raised the flag.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and other officials also took part in raising the flag atop the Space Needle.

As gay pride parades were happening around the country in several major U.S. cities, supporters of gay marriage got more good news Sunday when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy denied a last-ditch request from the sponsors of California's now-overturned gay marriage ban to halt the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the nation's most populous state.

Kennedy turned away the appeal with no additional comment as the 43rd annual pride parade was getting underway in San Francisco, where dozens of couples have gotten married since Friday and where the clerk's office remained open to issue more licenses on Sunday.

Same-sex marriage opponents asked Kennedy to step in on Saturday, a day after the federal appeals court in San Francisco allowed same-sex marriages to go forward by lifting a hold it had imposed on such unions while a lawsuit challenging the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage made its way to and through the high court.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the marriages to resume for the first time in 4 ½ years when it ruled Wednesday that Proposition 8's backers lacked standing to defend the 2008 law once California's governor and attorney general refused to do so.

The two couples who sued to overturn Proposition 8 are riding in a contingent organized by San Francisco's city attorney. Newlyweds Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank, got married on Friday within hours of the appeals court's action.

Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose decision not to defend the ban helped secure its defeat, also is participating as a grand marshal. Parade organizers planned to hold a VIP reception for couples who have married in San Francisco over the weekend.

San Francisco was not the only city hosting what were expected to be especially well-attended and exuberant gay pride parades following the court's decision in the California case and a second ruling granting gay couples the federal benefits of marriage they were previously denied. Large crowds also gathered in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle and St. Louis.

The parade in New York City, where the first pride march was held 44 years ago to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots that kicked off the modern gay rights movement, also was a sort of victory lap for Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old widow who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act after she was forced to pay $363,053 on the estate of her late wife.

Windsor was picked as a grand marshal of New York's parade months ago and planned to walk up Fifth Avenue during the event.

In Chicago, 25-year-old Catherine Gallagher was part of a massive crowd celebrating the court rulings. It was her first time at the pride parade, and she said high court's decision that says gay married couples should have the same rights as gay ones makes the parade even better.
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