In the rotunda of St. Louis’ City Hall, family and friends erupted in applause during a mass commitment ceremony for same sex couples on Saturday afternoon.
Andrew Shaughnessy is with the LGBT rights advocacy group PROMO and said despite the fact gay marriage isn’t legal in Missouri, that didn’t dampen the mood.
“People are feeling comfortable, they want to live their lives the way they are,” Shaughnessy said.
The ceremony was part of a weekend loaded with gay pride events in St. Louis that were part of PrideFest and an alternative event at Tower Grove Park.
Shaughnessy said the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional breathed new life into the LGBT rights movement in Missouri and states around the country.
“The momentum I’m seeing here in Missouri, if we can do it here, we can do it anywhere,” Shaughnessy
The American Civil Liberties Union said it will open a $10 million war chest to pay for ads aimed at changing the minds of conservative lawmakers who oppose gay marriage in states across the country, citing Illinois as a key battle ground on the issue, along with New Jersey and Hawaii.
Many people who attended the annual PrideFest parade, held for the first time in downtown St. Louis on Sunday morning, said they felt a sense that they could be more open with their sexuality after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
“I think that it means more freedom, we’re actually downtown close to a lot of the municipal buildings,” said Connie Landis of Columbia, Mo. “So, it’s a good day.”
Brad Kuntz of Illinois said he and his partner have considered traveling to Iowa, a state where gay marriage is legal, to tie the knot. But they decided against it, saying he felt like they shouldn't have to travel outside of their home state to get married.
“President Obama said that he supports gay marriage, but on the state level,” Kuntz said. “I don’t think that’s good enough. Right now there are certain states that recognize it; it needs to be recognized on the federal level.”
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy denied a request from Proposition 8 supporters in California to halt the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the nation's most populous state.
Kennedy turned away the request on Sunday with no additional comment.
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