PrideFest draws record crowd, celebrates progress of gay rights in Virginia

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by Eric Kane, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on August 24, 2014 at 12:01 AM

NORFOLK -- Sweeping changes to Virginia's same-sex marriage laws helped draw a record crowd to PrideFest 2014 Saturday.

Thousands of people filled Town Point Park celebrating, in part, a string of legal victories for the gay rights movement in the Commonwealth.

People greeted Tim Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk as hometown heroes at the event.

Bostic and London are co-plaintiffs in the landmark case that overturned Virginia's same-sex marriage ban earlier this year.

"We are very aware of all the hard work that so many people have done and the sacrifices so many people have made before us to make this possible for us today," said Bostic.

Bostic and London are joined by Carol Shall and Mary Townley of Richmond in challenging the state's same-sex ban.

Hampton Roads Pride expected as many as 15,000 people to show up, the most the festival has seen in its 26-year history.

"It's awesome. It was so rewarding," said Laurel Quarberg, President of Hampton Roads Pride. "I just kept thinking of that word 'proud.' I'm so proud of our community, our supporters, the people that support us. We are Hampton Roads Pride."

Although the federal court in Richmond agreed with a lower court's ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, earlier this week the United States Supreme Court granted a stay in the case which means, for now, gay marriages cannot take place in Virginia.

Opponents and supporters of gay marriage alike hope this will force the high court to take up Virginia's case, or a similar one from another state.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide in the coming weeks and months if it will hear the case. The justices decision would set a nationwide precedent on the legality of same-sex marriage.

"We stand on the shoulders of some phenomenal people that came in front of us, that laid down their time, their trouble, and in many instances their lives to promote this," London said, "and we will be there, and no one, and I mean no one, will stop us from getting there."

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