June 29, 2014 at 11:18 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
NYC Pride parade draws more than a million people

Laverne Cox, Delores Nettles, New York Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Actress Laverne Cox speaks with Delores Nettles, whose transgender daughter, Islan Nettles, was murdered last August in Harlem, before the annual New York LGBT Pride parade on June 29, 2014. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

NEW YORK — More than a million people lined the streets of Manhattan on Sunday for New York’s annual LGBT Pride parade.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Russian journalist and LGBT rights advocate Masha Gessen and New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and his husband who married last week are among those who marched. Gay Men’s Health Crisis, GLAAD, the Ali Forney Center, the Metropolitan Community Church of New York and hundreds of other organizations also took part in the parade that began in Midtown Manhattan and ended on Christopher Street in the West Village.

Actress Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black,” who was a grand marshal, marched with Delores Nettles, whose transgender daughter, Islan Nettles, died last August after she was attacked on a Harlem street.

“There are trans people all over this country fighting for their lives every single day and we’re not doing enough for them,” said Cox during a press conference before the parade. “There needs to be justice for Islan Nettles.”

Actor Jonathan Groff and Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, were also grand marshals.

Carey noted that Congress has yet to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. She nevertheless described this year that marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots as “extraordinary” for the LGBT community.

“We know how important it is to simply be out and walk and stand tall, even and especially 45 years after a bunch of drag queens and homeless kids and butch dykes and people of color said enough,” said Carey. “We do them honor when we walk through New York City proud and we do them honor when we say we are not finished. Yes we can get married, but until every single couple can walk down any street in America — including New York City — and hold hands and kiss each other goodbye and not be afraid to do so, we are not free.”

Cuomo earlier in the day formally announced a new initiative designed to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020.

“Although there are more New Yorkers living with HIV than in any other state in the nation, it is within our reach to end the epidemic that has plagued us for more than 30 years,” said Benjamin Bashein, acting executive director of AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) in a statement. “There is still no cure at hand, but we now have the knowledge and means to dramatically reduce new HIV infections and promote optimal health for those with HIV. Governor Cuomo’s leadership will help our vision become a reality and make New York a model for ending AIDS across the country and around the globe.”

More than 40 percent of Americans now live in a jurisdiction in which same-sex couples can legally marry. Maryland alongside 17 other states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have added gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws.

Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and other countries over the last year have enacted anti-LGBT laws that either clamp down on activism or further criminalize homosexuality.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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