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Editorial: Pride gets in motion

Since the last Pride event in Northampton a year ago, a lot has happened in the world of gay and lesbian rights, politically and socially. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases related to gay marriage, with decisions expected soon.

Barack Obama became the first American president to use an inaugural address to discuss same-sex marriage and gay rights, saying, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Civil unions became legal in Colorado. That tally continues to grow. Rhode Island on Thursday became the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and Delaware is on the verge of joining the club.

The state’s governor, Lincoln Chafee, wrote in a New York Times online op-ed Thursday that marriage equality is “a historic realignment” being pushed “as Americans from all walks of life realize that this is the right thing to do.” And now that most people support marriage equality, Chafee wrote, “politics should do its part to make the change efficient and constructive.”

And in another realm just this week, Jason Collins became the first active male professional team athlete in the United States to reveal to the world that he is gay, telling Sports Illustrated that he was tired of “living a lie.”

All that means there will be much to discuss — and celebrate — at Saturday’s LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton, as it is now called. As many as 20,000 people are expected to participate on what should be a glorious spring day.

This year’s theme — “Our Journey is Not Complete,” borrowing from the president’s January address — underscores the fact that despite decades of advances and growing acceptance, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are not treated as fully equal citizens.

On Saturday, the fight for rights hits the streets of Northampton again. It is everyone’s fight.

This year, event organizers say they expect as many as 20 public school gay-straight alliance groups to join in. By knocking down barriers and standing together, these groups push back against bias and help shield teens from harassment.

This year’s march again starts downtown at noon, departing Hampton Avenue for Old South Street, and then turning east on Main and Bridge streets to the Three County Fairgrounds, reversing the traditional direction. With more space at the fairgrounds, the post-march gathering can stretch out, as people make connections, eat and listen to music and speeches and shop vendor booths until around 5:30 p.m. Comic Kelli Dunham will serve as emcee starting around 1:30 p.m., with with remarks planned by the Rev. Tinker Donnelly, founder of Heart Works ministry in Northampton and Billy Urich, a rights activist. Performers will include John Brandoli, the band Antigone Rising, Karen Grenier, the Pioneer Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, Left Lying and the local Raging Grannies chapter.

This is a single public event with thousands of person meanings. Each year, it celebrates, consoles, strengthens and defies.

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