Pride Festival abuzz with talk of NY marriage law

June 24, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
New York's approval of a gay marriage bill came at the start of gay pride weekend across the country. An estimated 60,000 people were in the Montrose area of Houston on Saturday for the Pride Festival. More than 250,000 were estimated at the Pride Parade.

The excitement that filled New York's state house late Friday extends to the Lone Star State.

Many of Houston's annual Pride Festival revelers say they couldn't be happier.

"It's a step in the right direction, I think," Katie Tolle said.

"I'm kind of jealous that if I want to get married, I need to move to New York," Melanie Cruthirds said.

New York becomes the sixth and largest state -- along with Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Washington DC -- to recognize same-sex marriage in some capacity.

Texas has a constitutional amendment banning it.

"I had to go to the District of Columbia to get married, and this is just wonderful," said Noel Freeman with the Houston GLBT political caucus.

Freeman believes New York will help to sway other states on the issue.

"The president has indicated he's not going to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, and I think, ultimately, we'll be able to get some type of federal recognition in all 50 states for same sex marriages," he said.

The latest census figures show about 9 million people in the U.S. who identify themselves as lesbian or gay. That's just less than 4 percent of the population.

A recent Gallup poll shows a slight majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- support same-sex marriage.

"I think everyone ought to be able to do that. I don't see why some people should have privileges and advantages that other people don't," Patti Holler said.

"It's about time, isn't it? Talk about being behind the times. It's amazing and embarrassing that Texas isn't in the same boat right now as New York," Madeleine Sweigart said.

Not everyone agrees. There was a cluster of street preachers at the Pride Festival, protesting homosexuality and gay marriage.

"It's a sin, and people who sin need to be pulled out of the fire. That's why I'm here. I'm pulling people out of the fire," Robert Gomez said.

"I fully support their rights to be together, but I just don't think marriage is the way to do it," Zach Reinhardt said.

Legal scholars in the area of gay marriage say with New York doubling the number of married same-sex couples in the U.S., the federal government will face more pressure to recognize them.

New York's law takes effect in 30 days. That's when lawmakers expect a rush to the altar.

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