NEW YORK CITY — Pride celebrations began early as New Yorkers celebrated the landmark Supreme Court ruling Friday that all states must allow same-sex couples to marry.
About 50 people waving rainbow flags and decked in matching beads around their necks gathered at the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St., to celebrate with hugs, kisses and smiles.
"I'm elated, ecstatic!" said Kenneth Dowoing, 26, who lives in Washington D.C. but was in town for Pride.
"What a perfect present for Pride Weekend," said Randy Hillman, 39, who was visiting the city from Ohio with his mother.
"There's nowhere else we would rather be than here at Stonewall," he added.
John Shobel & Daniel Schmeder have been together 17 yrs, getting married next month "legally & nationally recognized" pic.twitter.com/wOFzC1KFb5— Danielle Tcholakian (@danielleiat) June 26, 2015
A year later, activists staged the city's first gay pride march, and became an annual tradition that grew into the week-long gay pride celebration that it is today.
The Stonewall also became a gathering place during other important events in the gay rights movement like New York's decision to legalize same-sex marriage on June 24, 2011, and when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26, 2013.
A couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was in town for Pride, made their way to Stonewall, a first-time visit for both of them, when they heard about the Supreme Court's decision.
"It's very exciting. We grew up in rural Oklahoma. We were both closeted. It was hard to come out. To get to this point is very exciting," said Rodney Thomas, 36.
"We've come a long way," Thomas added.
Some same-sex couples down at the City Clerk's office were overjoyed by the news.
Local politicians joined the chorus of praise for the court's decision.
"America will never forget this day, and neither will people all across the world who know the meaning of love and compassion," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"And for the people of this city, where the movement for LGBT rights began in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, we can be proud that we helped blaze the trail to this great victory," he added.
People continued to flock to Stonewall through Friday morning to celebrate.
Even a Canadian drag queen named Carlotta Gurl with Marilyn Monroe blond hair visited the scene.
"It's an honor to be here at this time. Whoever wants to marry me, it's first come, first serve! Whoever's got the biggest rock!" she said.
With reporting by Rosa Goldensohn