From left, Destiny Sulima, 21, her girlfriend, Amber Caswell, 26,...

From left, Destiny Sulima, 21, her girlfriend, Amber Caswell, 26, and their friend Daeja Alicea, 23, all of Bay Shore, walk Sunday with Planned Parenthood at the 2022 Pride March in Manhattan. Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes

Protests over the U.S. Supreme Court’s revocation Friday of nationwide, legalized abortion led Sunday’s New York City Pride March, where many expressed fear, through words and signs, that the court would next look to rescind gay rights.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s single largest abortion provider, stepped off about noon at the front, with marchers waving rainbow flags and chanting "BANS OFF OUR BODY.”

"This is turning back history," said Amber Caswell, 26, of Bay Shore, who was marching with Planned Parenthood, along with her girlfriend and another friend, all three of Bay Shore.

"It's not right," Caswell said of the ruling. "It's not right." She held a sign: “THANK GOD FOR ABORTION.”

Her girlfriend, Destiny Sulima, 21, said she was marching "because I'm gay," and with Planned Parenthood in particular "because the recent news of the abortion ban had me sick to my stomach."

From left, Destiny Sulima, 21, her girlfriend, Amber Caswell, 26,...

From left, Destiny Sulima, 21, her girlfriend, Amber Caswell, 26, and their friend Daeja Alicea, 23, all of Bay Shore, walk Sunday with Planned Parenthood at the 2022 Pride March in Manhattan. Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes

In a Saturday news release, organizers wrote: “Pride was born of protest and will always be a space to fight injustice and discrimination. Join us as we advocate for bodily autonomy at this year's NYC Pride March."

The court’s ruling overturned Roe v. Wade’s nearly 50-year-old precedent, which made abortion legal across the United States, and returned the question of the procedure's legality to the states.

Since the ruling, which called Roe “egregiously wrong from the start,” protests have swept the country.

The overt political messages on abortion and LGBTQ rights were supplemented by the usual corporate participation — Deutsche Bank, American Airlines, Salesforce, the NFL and dozens more had marchers — with dancing, marching bands, floats, confetti, glitter, twerking, leather, rum punch, and music.

The Stony Brook marching band took part in the parade with the SUNY contingent, and played songs like "We Are Family," "Born This Way," "YMCA," and "Dancing Queen," said band director Justin Stolarik.

Randy Wilks, 60, of Long Beach, was ready to roll down Fifth Avenue in her motorcycle, a parade she typically attends every year.

"This year, it's really important to speak out because of what's going on with — everything in the world, especially Friday's decision about Roe v. Wade," said Wilks, an attorney for the NFL.

"I think we all have to come together in solidarity from every background, every age, every group," she said, "and unite to fight for what we didn't think we'd have to fight for ever again — but here we are."

Although other justices wrote that the latest precedent applies only to the issue of abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued in a concurring opinion that the court “should reconsider” its past rulings that codify the constitutional right to birth control, same-sex marriage, and sexual intimacy by two people of the same sex.

Thomas' opinion reverberated at the NYC Pride March on Sunday.
"LAWRENCE, GRISWOLD & OBERGEFELL ARE NEXT," one man's sign read, listing the precedent-setting cases on same-sex intimacy, birth control and same-sex marriage, respectively, that Thomas wrote should be reconsidered. "WE WON'T GO BACK ON GAY LIBERATION."

Sunday’s parade commemorated the 1969 Stonewall Riots that brought about the modern gay-rights movement.

The riots, which continued over several days, began at night on June 28, 1969, when the NYPD raided The Stonewall Inn, a mob-owned bar on Christopher Street catering to a clientele of gay men, transgender people and other sexual minorities.

Such premises were illegal at the time — as was gay sex and failing to wear clothing consistent with traditional notions of gender — and thus venues like Stonewall were typically controlled by organized crime.

During the raid, as arrests began, patrons hurled fists, bricks and trash cans at the cops. The next year, in commemoration of the riot, gay-rights activists held the "Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day 1970," a march from Washington Place, near Stonewall, to Central Park.

The 2022 in-person parade is the first in person since 2019; it was canceled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, although there were splinter marches by tens of thousands.

The return of the parade brought another controversy, over whether uniformed police officers be able to continue marching in it.

Just before the parade route turned down Christopher Street stood Brian Downey, president of the NYPD’s Gay Officers Action League, leading a protest of the march, whose organizers last year announced a ban on cops from marching in uniform through at least 2025.

Brian Downey, president of the NYPD’s Gay Officers Action League,...

Brian Downey, president of the NYPD’s Gay Officers Action League, leads a protest of NYC Pride March, whose organizers have banned cops from marching in uniform. Credit: Newsday/Matthew Chayes

“LET US BACK IN!” a sign read.
“IRONY: Excluding People from an all-inclusive MARCH," read another.

In explaining the ban, organizers said last year: “The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason.”

In an interview Sunday from behind barricades, Downey noted that cops are still at the parade, of all sexualities: "There's a thousand police officers working today.”

He added: “We are the community. We face the same strife as the community, and we're deeply hurt, but we're happy that we're here, we're here together."


 

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