INDIANAPOLIS - Thousands of people gathered in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to take part in the 25th annual Circle City Pride Festival.
The festival comes after a number of high-profile political battles this year over the definition of marriage.
Despite those conflicts, the festival and parade continue to grow by the year.
"The first [parade] lasted about 10 minutes from start to finish," said Pride Parade founder Gary Brackett. "It had a police car, a fire truck, and maybe one float and a couple of drag queens, of course."
Now, after more than a decade, the Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade has grown to feature 24 floats and 2,500 walkers.
Participant Dan Hardt says he thinks the growing crowd is indicative of increasing acceptance.
"When I first came out years ago, it was kind of iffy," Hardt said. "But now I don't even mention it, and people just assume it's OK."
However, a number of battles centered just blocks away at the statehouse over the last six months have made it clear that Indiana remains divided over the issue of same-sex marriage.
Earlier this week, gay marriage supporters formed a coalition to build support for their cause. Meanwhile, the Indiana Republican Party approved a platform supporting a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
The pride parade this year received support from employees of a handful of companies, including Cummins Inc. The company's vice president was a vocal opponent to a proposed constitutional ban against same-sex marriage that divided the statehouse earlier this year.
"[We're here] supporting the Indianapolis community, the LBGT community, and supporting our employees and potential employees too," said Cummins' Rich Whitney.
While it seems likely gay marriage will continue to be a major political issue in Indiana, those in Saturday's parade hope their celebration leads to what they believe are equal rights for all.
In the meantime, the Circle City Pride Festival raises money for Indy Pride Inc.'s cause and various community organizations.
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