14 couples say ‘I do’ at Philadelphia’s 2014 LGBT Pride Parade [photos]

Philadelphia celebrated LGBT Pride on Sunday with a colorful and joyful parade through Center City featuring a newly legal same-sex wedding, and a festival at the Delaware River waterfront on Penn’s Landing.

Shortly after the parade reached the reviewing stand on Independence Mall, the route from 13th and Locust, around Washington Square Park, and down Market Street to Penn’s Landing was paused for the wedding ceremony of 14 same-sex partners. Court of Common Pleas Judges Ann Butchart, who officiated with fellow Judge Daniel Anders, said that the collective commitment shared by the couples added up to 119 years.

With Independence Hall as a backdrop, and surrounded by hundreds of festively dressed witnesses, the couples exchanged vows and rings and shared their first kisses as legally married Pennsylvanians.

From his vantage point on the reviewing stand, where judges would later decide on the best performances of the parade, announcer Rudy Flesher seemed to feel that the couples had just won the day. “You can all pack up and go,” he joked to crowd. “Nobody’s going to beat that.”

Three weeks prior, before U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and Gov. Tom Corbett declined to appeal the decision, such a scene could not have been possible.

The annual LGBT Pride Parade and Festival was organized by Philly Pride Presents, a nonprofit organization advocating for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The city’s director of LGBT affairs, Gloria Casarez, and Christian Axavier Lovehall, the subject of a 2013 documentary about the transgender experience, were the 2014 grand marshals, and City Councilman Mark Squilla was designated an honorary Friend of Pride.

The festival on Penn’s Landing featured food and beverages, community organizations, public health educators, and performances from musicians, including a string quartet and disco headliners The Village People; comedians; belly dancing; performances from the Attic Youth Center, a support organization for LGBT and questioning teens; and drag performers, including “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant and Ms. Philly Gay Pride 2014 Mimi Imfurst.

Gay Pride events are usually held in the month of June, which President Barack Obama officially proclaimed LGBT Pride Month on May 30, to commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots which occurred in June, 1969, widely seen as the beginning of the gay rights movement.

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