BY MITCH WEISS, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Organizers say they hope the festival will draw attention to the issue and create momentum that lasts through the political convention that starts the following week. Some of the thousands of protesters expected at the convention will be demonstrating for gay marriage.
"We're excited that the convention is in Charlotte," said David Webb, one of the pride festival's organizers. "But we also want to show that we're united and will continue to push for change."
When North Carolina voters passed the constitutional amendment in May, supporters of gay marriage first demanded that Democrats rethink Charlotte as the location of their convention. But advocates have since seized on the party gathering as a high-profile chance to make their message heard - with support from the party itself. The national party is expected to approve marriage equality as part of its national platform during the convention being held from Sept. 4-6.