Hundreds gathered in Jackson Square on Friday evening to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage and prepare for a future in which same-sex marriage becomes a reality in Louisiana.
An only-in-New Orleans mix of equality flags, American flags, rainbow beads and go-cups predominated in the crowd. One woman, Shawn King, brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate with friends. It had been on ice ready for a day like this.
Organizers chose to begin the rally with a singing of the Star Spangled Banner and a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. As the declaration came to an end, the crowd said in unison, “with liberty and justice FOR ALL.”
As he surveyed the large, boisterous group, longtime LGBT activist John Hill, spokesman for the Forum for Equality, dubbed it the largest demonstration for gay rights he had ever seen in Louisiana.
This morning when Hill found out about his side’s victory in court, he said, he jumped up and down and “felt like I did the night the Saints won the Super Bowl.”
As Hill approached the rally with rainbow pride flags pointing out of his car, he said, ordinary people honked and hollered in support.
“I’m glad so many people are seeing that we’re just normal people,” said Hill.
Derek Penton-Robicheaux, who along with his husband Jon sued attorney general Buddy Caldwell to have their Iowa marriage recognized in Louisiana, said “we’re married at home, finally, for the first time.”
Like many of those in attendance, however, he emphasized that there are still many other rights he hopes to win. Several attendees spoke of a state protection against workplace discrimination, while others noted that clerks in the state have yet to actually issue gay marriage licenses.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Penton-Robicheaux. “Now we have to move forward.”