Just a quick post before I go to the gym.
It was almost Spring this morning but by 4pm a fierce icy wind was blowing, chilling the long line of people waiting to get into the State House.
I don’t know how many attended, but the center and the two staircases were full. I couldn’t see over the crowd, and had to go to the third floor to find a space at the railing to look down at the speakers. Unfortunately, it was hard to hear up there looking down at the tops of people’s heads.
It was a happy, spirited gathering. There were many distinguished speakers, among them Mayor Cicciline, candidate Lincoln Chafee, Sen. Frank Ferri (who got huge applause), candidate Patrick Lynch, and Sen. Rhoda Perry. I saw lots of Unitarians, the East Greenwich congregation and my minister James Ford of First UU in Providence. Several other members of the clergy, in suits, vestments, yarmulke, were standing in front, a testimony to the existence of liberal religion.
The organizers did a great job, keeping it focused and just long enough.
It gives me kind of a buzz to hear all these tributes to the right to marry. Kind of revives the romance.
Looking at the size and diversity of the crowd, a strong and empowered gay community and as many straight supporters, a range of ages and races and personal style, clergy, politicians and a group of Brown University medical students– it’s clear that the time has come to respect marriage as a civil right.
I attended a hearing at the State House about a year ago on competing bills that would ban or legalize same-sex marriage. A member of the senate said that he intended to make gay marriage a ‘litmus test’. Certainly politicians have won votes by demonizing gay people, aided by religious groups that want the government to enforce their moral code.
My own marriage would have been invalid in some states prior to 1967, when Mildred and Richard Loving took their case to the Supreme Court and won for everyone the right to marry who we love regardless of race. I sometimes wonder what kind of hate and fear would have been created by politicians looking for a ‘litmus test’ if we had to fight the battle for interracial marriage state by state. It is still not comfortable for many people. But Mildred Loving, in one of her last public statements before she died, gave her support to same-sex marriage.
I also notice that interracial marriage is uncommon. The fact that it is legal did not create a rush to marry across racial lines, and it didn’t even cause same-race couples to break up.
The New York Times has a weddings and celebrations page. Most of the couples pictured are opposite sex, same race. Some weeks there are no same-sex couples at all. Not even in sinful New York. I hear that in Massachusetts heterosexuals still marry. In fact, they do a pretty good job of staying married.
But we’ve heard it all before. The legislature was going to have a hearing on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Coincidentally the hearing was postponed. Looking at that happy, motivated and very large crowd I think I know why.