Chicago gay parade attracts huge crowd

13:21, June 27, 2011      

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Hundreds of thousands of people went on to celebrate significant progress in the gay rights movement at Chicago's 42nd Gay Pride parade on Sunday, despite vandals' slashing tires of at least 51 floats before the start of the annual festival.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told Xinhua that the celebration "takes on an added significance this year because of the fact that Illinois has passed and signed the civil union bill into law."

Madigan said that while the state's civil union law is not considered as gay marriage law like that of New York, she is "very proud" of the legislation "recognizing people's relationships and give them equal rights that they deserve."

"Every state is going about providing equality to people," Madigan added. "I think we will see a lot of changes to take place across the country over the next few years."

Madigan is just one of the few politicians, mostly Democrats, who attend the event annually. This year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also participating in for the first time as Chicago's newly-elected chief executive. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is also among the marchers.

Last Friday, the New York state legislature passed a law recognizing gay marriage. It was immediately signed into law by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Here in Illinois, Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel also witnessed the first ever mass civil union ceremony at Chicago's Millennium Park on June 3.

Madigan said that she is hoping that the passage of civil union in Illinois and gay marriage in New York will have greater impact on other states that "have not moved in any direction" to adopt laws protecting citizens in same-sex relationships.

As it is, Chicago's pride parade organizers were dismayed after finding out that 51 floats were vandalized, apparently overnight.

RJ Basa, president of one of the participating organizations FINC, told Xinhua that the tires of the floats were slashed to burst, forcing them to replace the tires and thereby causing some delays in the preparation.

Chicago's The Windy City Times reported that the attacks could be a case of a "hate crime."

"This is catastrophic," Chuck Huser, a parade float provider told the publication, noting "This has never happened before...."

In the past, between 350,000 to 400,000 people attended the event, according to organizers and several news organizations. This year, with the sunny weather in Chicago, organizers are expecting a record-breaking crowd of over 400,000 people, but the official confirmation is still being awaited.

Police presence was also noticeable at the event, which also coincides with the crowd-favorite Taste of Chicago food festival in downtown. An emergency crew was spotted helping a spectator who apparently fainted due to the heat.

Many opponents, including influential Christian churches, have consistently criticized gay civil rights groups for promoting same-sex unions, saying that marriage should be defined only as between a man and a woman.

Source:Xinhua
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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(Editor:陈乐乐)

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