Busy Day


It was a hot sticky, sometimes rainy day in downtown Boston today. My Episcopal priest friend Anne said that someone from the group Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry asked if we knew what a "mitzvah" was (probably one of the rabbis). They answered the question themselves, "a mitzvah is wearing a collar on a day like today." Yes, there were a few of us in our clerical collars. I didn't consider it a mitzvah, just "suiting up" for what needed to be done.

Floating around the halls inside the State House were a number of nuns in full length wool habits. None of us could figure out what they were doing there or what statement they were making. They weren't hanging out across the street with the anti-marriage folk. They had no buttons on showing any "side." They could have been at the State House for any reason.

Then there were the blonds wearing pearls . . . .

I went into the Capitol building—it looks much more impressive on the outside then it does when you wander the corridors looking for the reps' offices— went through security and had to check my 1 1/2 inch pocket knife so as not to pose a threat to the brave elected officials. Then I started wandering the halls looking for two offices. One was of Shirley Gomes, the woman who represents the district in which the church I serve is located. She's not been known to be on the side of the angels in the gay marriage debate. Since my congregation voted itself a "Welcoming Congregation," UU code for gay friendly, I figured I could inform the Representative that I serve about 150 of her voters who care about this issue. I've called her office before and have had no luck whatsoever getting call backs.

Ms. Gomes' office is up on the 5th floor in what looks almost like an attic closet space. She was not there (hiding, I think) and I wrote out a message on one of those pink phone message pads. The only update those have had over the last 30 years is that now there is a place to indicate whether the call back number is a cell phone. Anyway, I left a message with my cell phone number on it. I will not hold my breath waiting to hear back from her. I will persist and call again and again. Sooner or later she will have to talk to me.

I left the hot attic and went looking for my rep's office, #134 in a different part of the building. The elevator opened up. I squeezed in facing the back of the elevator as there was no room to turn around. It was filled with men in power suits and ties and women in power suits and dresses and at least five of them, count them, five of them wearing PEARLS. I can't remember the last time I saw that many pearls in one place that wasn't a jewelry store! There was also the scent of at least three different perfumes. Working with the public as I do, I learned long ago to eschew wearing scent so as not to trigger allergic reactions in my sensitive parishioners. We arrived on the intended floor, I got out and stepped back and watched in amazement as they all emerged. I then noticed that ALL the women were blond, mostly 30ish and looking very "powerful."

Anyway, I then wandered around until I eventually found my rep. Debby Blumer. I like her. We've gotten to know one another a bit over the last couple of years. She lives in my neighborhood and she's good on the issues I care about. She was due in a transportation hearing so I walked with her and we briefly talked. In the hearing itself, a couple of state senators were testifying for bills they had submitted to name various bridges in their towns after heroes or friends (or contributors, who knows?) Debby turned to me and said that we ought to drive around our town and make a lists of bridges that we can name, what fun.

Anyway by that time I needed to leave and join up with our Roots Project group and pay a visit to an aide at Senator Kennedy's office. We'll post that story later.

After the visit to the top floor in the JFK building, our group decided to have lunch. GREAT decision as we managed to sit out the deluge that followed. We stayed dry for the time being. Then, back to the State House to rejoin the folks standing up and shouting out for preserving the institution of marriage by making it mean something, ie, about love and commitment and caring, things which transcend gender identity. We stood in the hot, humid, drizzle while young activists led chants and shouts on our side of the street. Across the way a gathering of folks holding up signs saying "Let the People Vote." Since when do we put people's civil rights up to a popular vote?

Standing by one of the gates of entry was a black man with a LtPV sign. He was there when we left for Kennedy's office. I pointed out to him that had we put civil rights to a popular vote, it would have lost. He tried to counter with God this and God that. When we returned he was still there, this time engaged in conversation with a young woman holding a sign that said "I Love My 2 Moms." It was good to see that engagement. Two hours later when we decided to leave, they were still talking. Eventually, people will talk with one another, not shout at one another. When people realize that there is no threat from gays marrying, when they get to know the people behind the labels when they allow the conversation to progress beyond sound bites, THAT is when the tide will eventually turn.

For now, the vote has been put off until Nov. 9. It will take time for people to realize that there are too many more important things on which to spend our time, money and energy. After all, Massachusetts still has one of, if not the lowest divorce rates in the country. If MA is a bastion of "moral decay" this just doesn't compute.

It was a busy day. And there is more yet to be done. Always more to be done.