Christopher Street was blocked off between 7th Ave. and Waverly Place on Wednesday night as hundreds congregated at the historic Stonewall Inn to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. 44 years after protests erupted on the same streets, revelers passed around bottles of champagne, and children waved miniature marriage equality flags. Some held signs: “Love = Love,” and another, “It’s about fucking time.” “I’ve had this big smile on my face all day,” said Holly Colina, a yoga teacher in the city. Her girlfriend Chae added, “It just feels like a breath of relief.”
The enthusiasm was contagious. Jean-Philippe Schmitt, a French professor at NYU and his partner, Thomas Graff, are getting married this October. “It is so exciting,” said Schmitt. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It’s part of history for us.” “It makes us able to have a family,” added Graff, a musician. “I mean, we’re together and we’re happy right now, but having a family would be really hard in a country that doesn’t allow us to be married.”
Stephen Best, a banker, expressed similar sentiments. “I don’t need the government to tell me whether or not my marriage is valid,” he said. “But from a legal perspective, being able to have a partner stay and not be deported, and get a green card if you’re married — those legal recognitions are of great significance.”
Graff says that he gives President Obama a lot of credit for changing the social attitudes of the country, especially with the older generation. “It seems like it’s finally starting to come around,” he said.
Herath Pradeep, a graphic designer who lives in Battery Park City, said he’s optimistic for the future. “I knew it was always going to happen, but it’s a good thing,” he said. “There’s a new generation of people growing and new ideas are coming.”
Yet not everyone is quite so hopeful. Mara Smith, a freelance entertainer, expressed her discouragement. “I came out like 100 years ago, and I just find it obscene that we have to fight for rights that people should inherently have,” she said. “I’m feeling like it’s about time.”
For now, though, most seemed more than content to kick off this weekend’s Pride festivities a little early. “It’s just great to be here for this impromptu party right now,” said Best.