Nearly 2 million marchers followed the lavender line painted on Fifth Avenue Sunday for the city's annual gay pride march, marking the first anniversary of the state's same-sex marriage law.
Throngs of spectators crowded along the sidewalks on Fifth Avenue, waving rainbow-colored flags as participants including Cyndi Lauper as grand marshal, went by. The parade was held one year to the day of same-sex marriage being legalized in New York State.
The city's first married gay couple, Connie Kopelov and Phyllis Siegel, were also grand marshals at the parade.
Among those participating were Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was accompanied by her wife. Quinn and her longtime partner were married last month.
Bloomberg had a message to the rest of America: "The government should get out of your personal life."
"New York is a place where you can do whatever you want to do," he said, before stepping off onto the parade route.
Each year since 1970, the parade has had a different theme. This time, it was "Share the Love." Organizers say they want other states to pass legislation that allows same-sex marriage, which is already legal in six states and the District of Columbia.
More than 300 groups, including NBC, marched down Fifth Avenue to the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, which is widely considered the start of the national gay rights movement.
This year marked another first for the movement, with a float carrying active members of the U.S. military who can now openly declare their sexual orientation while being allowed to still serve.
"It's great to be proud of who we are," said Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, co-director of OutServe, a network of actively-serving gay military personnel.
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