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.