Photo gallery: Freedom to marry celebrated at historic Pride Parade

Can anyone remember the last time crowds of people flocked to get married?

Flamboyant celebrations at the Philadelphia Pride Parade took on a serious, almost somber tone just after 1 o’clock, as 13 couples stood on Market Street at Independence Square Park and exchanged the vows of marriage.

“I love you. You are my closest friend. Will you let me share my life and all that I am with you?” the couples repeated as crowds cheered.

The mass marriages at the Pride Parade were made possibly by a federal judge’s May decision legalizing same sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Tonee Robinson, 52 and Ray Purnell, 30, together for nine years, were one of the couples that wed Sunday.

“We’ve been together for over nine years, it’s almost like we’ve been married from the start, and finally, today, it’s legal, it’s finally on paper,” Purnell said.

Another couple tying the knot was Jenna Imes, 28, and Melissa Bailey, 39, who have been together for three years.

“Just a few years ago, I didn’t think it was going to happen in my lifetime,” Bailey said. “When I heard, I think I cried for like 20 minutes, tears of joy.”

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judges Ann Butchart and Daniel Anders performed the weddings.

“Beyond the very important legal protections, it is changing relationships,” Anders said of the new law.

“I had a couple that had been together 33 years … I asked them to hold hands during the exchanging of the vows and then seal their vows with a kiss. Afterwards, as they were making toasts, they said … that they had never shown a public display of affection, even holding hands in front of their family friends, let alone in public. What they said is that it felt right and it felt good.”

In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal — expanding marriage rights for the first time since the famed 1967 decision Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriage nationwide, Loving v. Virginia.

In May, a Philly federal judge ordered same-sex marriage legalized in Pennsylvania.


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