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DOMA Suit Plaintiff Windsor To Serve As Pride March Marshal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Edith Windsor, the plaintiff who filed the lawsuit that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act this week, will be among the grand marshals for this year's New York City Gay Pride parade.

Windsor, 84, sued the federal government after she was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes when her partner of 44 years, Thea Spyer, died in 2009 because DOMA didn't recognize their marriage even though the state of New York did. She would have paid nothing in inheritance taxes if she had been married to a man.

In a 5-4 ruling this past Wednesday, the court struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people.

She will serve as one of three grand marshals for the annual LGBT Pride March, which begins at noon Sunday at Fifth Avenue and 36th Street.

Also serving as a grand marshal is Earl Fowlkes, the president and chief executive officer of the Center for Black Equity. The group works for health and social equity in the African-American LGBT Community.

The third grand marshal is legendary musician and activist Harry Belafonte, who is being honored this year for what organizers called "his fervent dedication to the LGBT community and the global struggle for peace and equity."

The parade proceeds south on Fifth Avenue to 8th Street, where marchers and floats will turn west and head to the junction with Christopher Street. The march then heads west on Christopher Street to Greenwich Street in the West Village.

Police will be sending out extra officers to patrol the Greenwich Village area in particular during the parade, following a spate of bias-related attacks.

On May 18, Mark Carson, 32, was shot and killed by a man who first called him and his partner "f***ots" and asked if they were "gay wrestlers." The shooting happened at 8th Street and Sixth Avenue – an intersection that lies right on the parade route.

Elliot Morales, 33, was caught a short time after and charged with Carson's murder.

Numerous other attacks occurred around the same time in Midtown, Greenwich Village, SoHo, the East Village and Brooklyn.

Events leading up to the march began on Friday, with a rally at Pier 26 in TriBeCa. Lady Gaga addressed the crowd at the rally.

"We are not a niche. We are a part – a big, giant part – of humanity," she said. "You saved me, my friends in the LGBT community, time and time again."

The events were set to continue Saturday, when NYC Pride was to hold a rooftop party with an assortment of world-class DJs at Hudson Terrace, at 621 W. 46th St. in Hell's Kitchen. Also on Saturday, NYC Pride was to hold "Rapture on the River," the official women's event of Pride weekend, at Pier 26.

In conjunction with the parade on Sunday, the 20th annual Pride Fest street fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Hudson Street between Abingdon Square and 14th Street. Meanwhile, a Pride Poolside party will be held at Hotel Americano, 521 W. 27th St., and in the evening, a Dance on the Pier will close out the events back at Pier 26.

Pride Month, and the gay pride parades and marches held in June across the country, all commemorate the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969. A group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St., demonstrated against raids on the bar by the police in what led to a two-day riot for gay rights and a new and intense discussion about civil rights for the LGBT community.

Pride parades will also be held Sunday in other major cities across the country – including Chicago, where hundreds of thousands flock to Halsted Street and adjoining thoroughfares in the Boystown District, and San Francisco, where crowds will flock to Market Street days after same-sex marriages in California resumed.

In New York City and the Tri-State Area, pride parades were held earlier this month on Long Island, in Brooklyn and in Queens.

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