06/27/2013 08:07 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Reason to Celebrate: San Francisco Says Goodbye to DOMA


On the cusp of Pride weekend, we find ourselves in a perfect storm of celebration. Typically, the weekend honoring the lifestyles of the LGBT community brings in people from all over the world to come together in San Francisco. This year, it happens to start two days after the Defense of Marriage Act was finally thrown out of the club for disorderly conduct. The energy that has been a byproduct of resentment, prejudice and misunderstanding has boiled over into an abundance of pride as we all say goodbye to the monster that is DOMA.

The day the news broke of the Supreme Court's decision, the excitement could be felt throughout the entire city. Riding my bike home after work, I could feel the buzz developing as helicopters were hovering in the sky and the traffic was all heading in one direction. As if being lead by a guiding light, the masses were coming to congregate in The Castro -- the land where Harvey Milk started the forefronts of gay rights and the bells of equality still ring today.

Naturally, I joined my fellow San Franciscans.

All up and down Castro Street were members from all walks of life rejoicing together. Starting underneath the shadow of the giant rainbow flag that flies on the corner of Market, people crammed on both sides of the streets to listen to the rally cries of pride.

zachary ehren

"It is great to be queer in America today!" was the first thing I heard from the stage as I approached the masses.

This is not a statement to be taken lightly. Sure, I am heterosexual and will never fully understand the challenges the LGBT population faces from the bigots that crawl out from whatever holes they call home, but I understand intolerance. Being Jewish, I grew up hearing stories of hate and saw pictures of family members that were killed because of who they were. I could connect with the pain that someone receives from not being accepted for being born into a tribe that others find distasteful. Today marks a day that hate, in all forms, is the one being knocked down.

Diving into the sea of people, I inched my way down the street admiring the flags being waved and statements of hope being cried as I stood shoulder to shoulder with men and women that may have been denied a basic right for decades. The amount of good vibes that were in the air became a tangible substance that could be felt by everyone in attendance.


After countless babysteps, I successfully made it passed the first wave of the crowd. Once I broke free, I could see the celebration continued for several blocks packing in hundreds of people. Men holding hands were walking up and down the street proclaiming their love for each person they walked passed and older couples held posters stating how long they have been engaged waiting for the opportunity to be legally recognized as a married couple.


At the opposite end of Castro was a second stage with a man addressing another crowd of people with a charismatic pride that could be rivaled by religious leaders. However, his evangelical cries were not about religious doctrine or the threat of damnation. He spoke of equality as he made everyone in the crowd repeat with him, "It doesn't matter if you are gay or straight, I love you the same."

It was at this moment that I knew exactly why everybody was celebrating. It wasn't about gays, straights, lesbians, jocks, bears, asexuals, religious-types, queens, hippies or any other label that people can place on someone. We are rejoicing over the fact that everyone has taken a step in the right direction in this silly thing we call life. The world is that much closer to becoming a place that the Harvey Milks and the Martin Luther Kings have always knew was possible of becoming.

As my grandchildren read about the battles for equality in the early 21st century, I am proud to be able to tell my grandchildren that I was there the day the good guys won. I have witnessed the tides of change and they ride along the coattails of a rainbow.