Conway Pride Parade marches on without protest

CONWAY (KATV) - More than a thousand people turned out to march in Conway's 11th annual Pride Parade. It's the first gay pride parade in the state since Arkansas's gay marriage ban was partially overturned by Judge Chris Piazza. The parade ssurprisinglylacked protesters along the parade route. Event organizers say that's coming a long way from the first year when there were hundreds of demonstrators and thousands of pounds of manure scattered through the streets in protest. "We're marching for equal human rights," said Judd Mann, marching alongside a rainbow flag in Sunday's parade. "And you know what's so special is we won. We're finally equal in the state of Arkansas and we won." But event organizers, Robert Loyd & John Schenck - married together in Canada, know the fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians in Arkansas is not over yet. Judge Piazza's ruling overturning Arkansas's same-sex marriage ban is still in the appeals process with Arkansas's Supreme Court - the future of same-sex marriage in seven justices hands. "I'm hoping that's going to change soon," said Loyd. "I'm hoping that Arkansas is not number 50 to see the light." Loyd and Schenck were happy to see a complete lack of protesters at Sunday's event. They say this year is definitely different. "Every year has gotten better and better and better," said Loyd. "We haven't had any kind of police harassment in a decade and we haven't had a window shot out in three year and that's quite a record here." Those marching on Sunday know there will always be some people that don't agree with them, but those like parade-goer Alyssa Holden say that won't phase them. "Everybody needs to know that we're here and we're not going away, you know, even if the law says we should," commented Holden. Cheryl Mapes, attorney for the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court was the grand marshal of this year's parade. Loyd and Schenck had extended an invitation to Judge Piazza to be grand marshal in the parade, but he never responded to the request. Little Rock's gay pride festival is set this year for October 5th.