Religious groups including Christians, Jews and Buddhists led the New York gay pride parade on Sunday, lending gravity to the often outrageous event that celebrates the 1969 Stonewall riots when patrons at a Greenwich Village gay bar fought back against a police raid.
"We stand for a progressive religious voice," said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of New York City's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. "Those who use religion to advocate an anti-gay agenda I believe are blaspheming God's name."
Kleinbaum, who heads the world's largest predominantly gay synagogue, and the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, were the parade's grand marshals, waving from his-and-hers convertibles.
The march took place days after the New York State Assembly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which Governor Eliot Spitzer supports. Although the bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled state Senate any time soon, parade-goers said they were cheered by the Assembly's action.
"This is one very important step toward full equality for all New Yorkers," Kleinbaum said.
Tens of thousands of people attended the march, including NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg.