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Forty-four years after Stonewall, 'it's a whole different world'

BY ROB HOTAKAINEN, MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON -- When the cops arrived to raid the Stonewall Inn on the night of June 27, 1969, David Velasco Bermudez headed for the exits, but he couldn’t make his way through the crowded bar before getting hit in the neck by a policewoman swinging a billy club.

But then Bermudez, who at 29 had learned to submit to routine beatings by New York City police, did something different: He fought back, and so did his friends.

“We never, ever hit back,” said Bermudez, now 73, a retired interior designer now living in Cape Cod, Mass. “But we had just had enough of it. . . . It’s like Rosa Parks sitting inside a bus. We just did it.”

Gays and lesbians have been fighting ever since.

On Wednesday, just one day shy of the 44th anniversary of the raid that launched the gay rights movement, the battle hit a crescendo when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage is no longer the sole domain of straight couples.

“Oh, my God, it’s a whole different world,” said Bermudez, who called the change “mindboggling.”

While the court also said gay marriages could resume in California, it did nothing to change the gay marriage bans still in effect in 30 states. But legal experts said that the court’s rulings mark an irreversible step toward making gay marriage the law of the land.

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I can't imagine a world where we went around legally beating up gay people, because they were gay.

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