- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - More than 20,000 people marched Sunday in the city’s gay pride parade, passing hundreds of thousands of spectators celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

For New Yorkers, the 2-mile walk from midtown Manhattan to Greenwich Village marked a second victory for marriage equality - four years after the state already approved it.

Standing behind police barricades, many held up signs that read, “Thank you, Governor Cuomo.” The praise reaches back to the 2011 passage of New York’s Marriage Equality Act, which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supported.

On Sunday, he officiated at a wedding for two men in front of Stonewall Inn, where in 1969, a police raid spearheaded the modern gay rights movement.

At the parade, police stood watch in a neighborhood awash in rainbow colors - from flags and balloons to boots and half of 18-year-old Frankie Lopez’s hair, died bright green.

“Why are people congratulating me today? I’m in New York! We could get married years ago,” said a smiling Lopez, who lives in the Bronx and works in a doughnut shop.

“It was one step at a time, baby steps - but this last one was a huge one,” said the gay teenager. “They took each state and applied the law everywhere. That’s huge; it’s exciting.”

He came to the celebration with 16-year-old Alex Kingsley, a lesbian friend also from the Bronx whose rainbow colors included a feathery tail, a watch and a bracelet, plus pasties on her nearly naked chest.

“Today you can get married in every state, not just certain states; that’s really important to us,” she said.

For Aron Elvis Esler, Sunday’s parade was special because it was his first.

The 22-year-old restaurant worker from Hoboken, New Jersey, said he’d been “beaten and pushed around” when he came out in high school.

He came to the parade with his best friend, a 17-year-old straight girl “who is here to support me.”

“When you’re best friends with somebody, it’s not about, ‘Oh, you’re gay, you’re straight’; you just connect,” said Ashley Malet, of Jersey City, New Jersey.

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