SAN FRANCISCO — A lesbian motorcycle group dressed in bridal veils and wedding gowns lent a matrimonial touch to San Francisco's gay pride parade Sunday as revelers celebrated their newfound freedom to marry.
The Dykes on Bikes tossed bouquets as they led the city's 38th annual gay pride parade down Market Street. Some of the motorcycles were adorned with signs that read "Just Married."
Huge crowds lined the route as city tourism officials predicted the largest turnout yet for the parade, which typically draws tens of thousands.
The county clerk's office was busy Friday handing out marriage licenses and handling wedding ceremonies. Same-sex marriage has been legal in California since June 16, after a state Supreme Court decision.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom received ovations along the parade route for his role in working to overturn the state's gay marriage ban.
Though City Hall was closed Sunday, parade organizers put up a wedding pavilion across the street where couples could get information about tying the knot or celebrate newly sanctioned unions.
Wade French, 61, and his partner, Brent Lock, 54, wed in San Francisco the day after the court's decision took effect. At the parade, Lock wore a T-shirt reading "Finally married..." while French's shirt read "...after 30 years together."
"We always come to the parade, but this year is a different feeling because we're celebrating something that's personal to us," Lock said.
The couple said they were asking friends and family not to send wedding gifts and instead make donations to a nonprofit group working to fight a ballot measure that would amend the California constitution to ban gay marriage in the state.
In an interview Sunday morning on NBC's "Meet the Press," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the measure "a waste of time."
"I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman," Schwarzenegger said. "But at the same time I think that my, you know, belief, I don't want to force on anyone else."
Initiative challenges weddings
The initiative set to go before voters in November would provide that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Its language was taken directly from a gay marriage ban enacted by voters in 2000, one of two the state Supreme Court found unconstitutional and struck down on May 15.
Overseas, gay pride marches in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and the Czech Republic city of Brno came under attack Saturday by extremists who threw rocks and eggs. No serious injuries were reported.
In Paris, more than half a million people danced through the streets beneath a river of rainbow flags.
In India, hundreds chanted for gay rights in Calcutta, Bangalore and New Delhi in the largest display of gay pride in the deeply conservative country, where homosexual acts are illegal. The marches came days before the Delhi High Court is expected to hear arguments on overturning a law against homosexual sex that dates to the British colonial era.
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