SAN FRANCISCO — Loud sirens, flashing lights and countless rainbow flags and banners accompanied uniformed police officers, cheerleaders and politicians who marched in San Francisco's gay pride parade Sunday, the 42nd year the city has celebrated the lesbian, gay and transgender community.
Organizers said San Francisco's weekend events are the largest LGBT gathering in the nation, but thousands were also celebrating in Chicago and New York City, where parade-goers are toasting the anniversary of the state's same-sex marriage law.
In Chicago, large crowds gathered on the city's North Side, with many saying it was time for Illinois to allow gay marriage. Sunday's parade comes just weeks after 25 Illinois couples sued for the right to marry.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez have refused to defend the lawsuit, saying the state's gay marriage ban violates the constitution. Gay marriage opponents have said they're strategizing over how to intervene.
New York's march exuded diversity, from grand marshal Cyndi Lauper to the mayor, the police commissioner and the governor.
"New York is a place where you can do whatever you want to do," Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared before he joined the Fifth Avenue parade at noon.
He said he had a message for the rest of America: "The government should get out of your personal life."
Hundreds of thousands of spectators crowded sidewalks a dozen deep, cheering and waving rainbow-colored flags for the annual festivities one year after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into law.
The governor appeared Sunday with his girlfriend, Food Network chef Sandra Lee.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came as a newlywed, married last month to longtime partner Kim Catullo.