Gay rights supporters waving rainbow colours marched, chanted and danced in cities across the United States on Saturday to protest the vote that banned gay marriage in California and to urge supporters not to quit the fight for the right to wed.

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River Richart holds a sign as his grandmothers, Nellie Duran, background right, and Filly Dasilva, background centre, look on during a Proposition 8 rally Saturday in Fresno, Calif. ((Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press))

Crowds gathered near public buildings in cities large and small, including Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Fargo, N.D., to vent their frustrations, celebrate gay relationships and renew calls for change.

"Civil marriages are a civil right, and we're going to keep fighting until we get the rights we deserve as American citizens," Karen Amico said in Philadelphia, holding up a sign reading "Don't Spread H8."

"We are the American family, we live next door to you, we teach your children, we take care of your elderly," said Heather Baker, a special education teacher from Boston who addressed the crowd at Boston's City Hall Plaza. "We need equal rights across the country."

Connecticut, which began same-sex weddings this past week, and Massachusetts are the only two states that allow gay marriage. Thirty states ban the practice, but a handful allow civil unions or domestic partnerships that grant some rights of marriage.  

Protests following the vote on Proposition 8 in California, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, have sometimes been angry and even violent, and demonstrators have targeted faiths that supported the ban, including the Mormon church.  

In San Francisco, one demonstrator's sign read: "You have three wives; I want one husband."

Seattle blogger Amy Balliett said supporters in 300 cities in the U.S. and other countries were holding marches, and she estimated one-million people would participate, based on responses at the websites her group set up.

"We need to show the world when one thing happens to one of us, it happens to all of us," she said.

Demonstrators in Washington marched from the U.S. Capitol through the city carrying signs and chanting "One, two, three, four, love is what we're fighting for!"

A public plaza at the foot of New York's Brooklyn Bridge was packed by a cheering crowd, including people who waved rainbow flags and wore pink buttons that said "I do."

Protests were low-key in North Dakota, where people lined a bridge in Fargo carrying signs and flags.

Supporters of traditional marriage said Saturday's rallies may have generated publicity but ultimately made no difference.

"They had everything in the world going for them this year, and they couldn't win," said Frank Schubert, co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign in California. "I don't think they're going to be any more successful in 2010 or 2012."