SF gears up for Gay Pride Weekend

June 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands of people are in San Francisco this weekend for the annual gay pride celebration. Many of those visitors are also drawn by California's decision to let same-sex couples marry. On Friday, Mayor Newsom said the weddings mean San Francisco can avoid some looming budget cuts.

The tents and booths are still going up on Friday night at the Civic Center for the pride celebration. Inside, City Hall on Friday, there were more than 300 weddings, most of them same-sex marriages. The big weekend is attracting people who are not from California who want to take advantage of the court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Among the weddings before closing time at San Francisco City Hall were ceremonies for out of state couples.

Keith and Eric Evans of Reno, Nevada left City Hall with a marriage certificate and the same last name.

"We're hoping to go back to Nevada and ask them to recognize the marriage in California. And I shouldn't think Nevada would have a problem. After all they legalized prostitution and this is a step up," said Eric Evans, a groom.

Benny Sevilla came here from Honolulu to marry his partner of 12 years.

"I was coming here for the parade anyway and when the court said it's OK, we decided we were going to do it," said Benny Sevilla, a groom.

Less than two weeks after same sex marriages began, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says they're already having a positive economic impact.

"Literally last night during the budget deliberations, we were able to avoid $1.2 million dollars in social service cuts because we were able to bank the new revenue because of all these weddings in San Francisco," said Mayor Newsom.

As the sun went down, hundreds of people filled the streets around Dolores Park and the Castro for the transgender march. It was a little late getting started because hundreds of critical mass bicyclists suddenly showed up. The marchers used the event to protest psychiatric teachings which say transgender people have a mental illness. Speakers also pointed to recent accomplishments.

"And now private health plans are getting rid of exclusions for benefits for transgender people and that's the way it should be," said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D) from San Francisco.

Comedian Margaret Cho was a surprise guest.

"This is such an important weekend. California has lifted the ban on gay marriage and I know that's directly because of all the work we did here in San Francisco," said Margaret Cho, a comedian.

On Monday, San Francisco City Hall will scale back the weddings, only marrying couples during regular business hours.


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