My account of the gay marriage protest in Boston yesterday. (Monday, March 29.)
An account based less on the actual decisions and more on my random observances and colloquial details about my friends and their takes on things is written at my personal journal here as well as a friend of mine's account, with a picture of a sign or two, is here.
I'm a 20 year old heterosexual white female. I support gay marriage.
I should "know better."
This is just one of the several ludicrous arguments I heard while protesting at the Statehouse in Boston yesterday with 4 friends.
The way some people act, one would think we were trying to pass an Amendment saying everyone must turn gay immediately.
Last night, the Massachusetts government voted yes to an Amendment defining marriage as an act between a man and a woman, moving it one step closer to being written into the state Constitution.
The best speech of the night was by a Republican, 8 year olds were being taught to hate and fear homosexuals, and I talked to more heterosexuals in favor of gay marriage than not.
It was an interesting day.
We were loaded up with backpacks of water, snacks, balloons, signs, cameras, and things with which to make noise. We started out early, we had to start out early..it's about an hour and ten minute car ride plus a bit over a 20 minute T ride into Boston from little Ware, Massachusetts. I affectionately dubbed our trip the Taste the Rainbow protest.
On the T, we met a cool, nice guy who asked if we were going to the protest (looking at the signs we were carrying) and mentioned that he was headed there also. He's a minister, there to show his support for gay marriage in an effort to help disprove the notion that all of the very religious think homosexuality should be banned. Also, a young woman mentioned she'd be there after a meeting at work. We promised to try to catch up with both of them. (Which, interestingly enough, we did, even amid the large crowd.)
When we got there, protesters were everywhere, on both sides of the street. A MassEquality volunteer gave us stickers and information. Want to stay outside and protest, go for it. Want to go into the Statehouse, you can watch the debate on tvs on the second floor, or chant and sing on the third. We decided to stay outside. The sun was shining, it was windy and chill, but we knew it would be and were layered up.
Most of the anti-gay marriage protesters were also anti-civil union. The energy was intense, each side trying to outdo the other. I only saw one scuffle though; when an anti-gay man pushed a fellow with a pro-gay sign, and kept pushing him. Someone ran for a police officer, and then the man started yelling things like, "Get the fuck away from the children."
The only one of us that had ever been to a protest before - Amy - quickly got into the swing of things, joining and starting chants ranging from, "Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia's got to go!" to "Separate church and state!" to "Religious right, go away! You're racist, sexist, anti-gay!" and banging her tambourine.
Me, I started off by wandering down the crowd on the side of the street we were on, and then the other, checking out the signs to see who supported what. The creepiest thing was the small cluster of children, holding signs saying things like, "My life depends on my parents, a mom and a dad" and "No sex is better than same sex." Some of the kids were as young as 4, all being taught to hate. A bus kept circling, plastered with anti-gay signs, and with a young girl holding one reading "God hates fags" while another child looked out the bus window wearing a devil mask.
I stopped to listen and help argue with one man who was berating parents for teaching their children to hate homosexuals. The pro-gay crowd began chanting at the parents, singing "1, 2, 3, 4, open up the closet door, 5, 6, 7, 8, how do you know your kids are straight?" The man said the parents were teaching their children to hate him, and hate themselves, if any of their children grew up and realized they were gay. The parents were basically unconcerned, saying their children will never be gay because they know how to raise them, and that they do not hate gays, but merely wish to see them attain ultimate happiness by coming to Jesus and denouncing their sinful lifestyle.
We blew up balloons to give out, to tie to signs and railings, balloons reading things like "equal rights now" and "taste the rainbow."
There were lots of signs for groups that were supporting gay marriage: grandmothers for gay marriage, various churches for gay marriage. Individual signs were prevalent as well, sarcastic ones about banning classic books by well-known famous gay authors, signs about Jesus not loving selectively, a sign that read, "If my life bothers you so much, just stay out of it!" and "Husband material" with arrows pointing down to its gay male owner, as well as, "Jesus hates bad signage" and "Adam and Eve. Adam and Steve. Ann and Eve. Let them all marry."
Two of the weirdest encounters for me personally were with the straight-out-of-the-movies slick-haired, shady-looking zealous religious men. One was holding a huge sign proclaiming, "Jesus sets men free from demons of sodomy" and when argued with by pro-gays, had no lucid or intelligible arguments to make, but kept reiterating that he is a religious man who loves all, and will help the gays overcome. Two of my friends and I were singing a song we altered, about tolerance near him in the background of his discussion, and he kept giving us dirty looks. When a group of pro-gays began singing America, the Beautiful, he said, "That's disgusting" and moved to a different part of the street.
The other man was very polite, but just as crazy. He held a poster with a list of websites for ex-gays, trying to advocate that you can turn from being gay. I came over from handing out balloons to see one of my friends debating with him, and stopped to join in.
His argument was that when people die, their spirit goes on, and that spirit can influence the people who are still alive. Therefore, gay people are being influenced by evil dead people's spirits, as opposed to nice dead people's spirits.
Evil dead people influence homosexuals to be homosexual.
Nice dead people influence heterosexuals to be heterosexual.
So all you really have to do is be influenced by someone nice, who's dead, who wants you to be heterosexual.
I didn't even know how to being arguing the insanity of that one, but fortunately my friend, and a nice intelligent guy who was walking by and stopped to join in, took care of the discussion with him.
Eventually, as afternoon began to dwindle and we'd been out in the cold all day, we headed in the Statehouse to watch some of the tail end of the debate before the vote. The best speech that I saw was made by a Republican from Holliston, I believe his name was Paul Loscocco, and nearly all speeches I saw were against the amendment, and in favor of gay marriage. The hall we were watching in probably contained a few hundred people, all watching with bated breath as votes were tallied. I noted with annoyance that both Reed Hillman and Anne Gobi voted yes to this amendment and resolved to write to them and call them again.
When it was announced that the amendment was voted yes, to move to further stages, it was crushing. The room was near silent for a few seconds. Some people were crying and hugging their partners, friends, or their children, and soon all were gathering their things to leave. Then one woman screamed the chant that had been popular all day, "What do we want?" and everyone answered, "Equal rights!" And suddenly the temperament of the room changed. The vote today was a setback. But it was not over. It was far from over. There was more to be done, and it would be. Eventually, we will win. It's just a matter of when.
We left the Statehouse, choosing not to stay for the rallying speeches outside since we were tired and wouldn't be home until after 9 as it was. Walking down the path through the park, we were stopped by a woman asking what the outcome was. We told her, and another man joined us, explaining that tonight is not as dire as some are making it sound, that we have a whole year to get working. We asked him what he meant (not knowing a lot about how politics are actually run, and having been making a conscious effort to fix that ignorance) and he explained that the same thing that happened today has to happen again in a year, it must be voted on again. He said that if it wins again next year, another year will go by and THEN the people of Massachusetts will vote on it. So nothing is yet written into the Constitution here, and with work, it won't be. We thanked him, and left.
On the way home, on the T, we met a cool, nice gay lawyer who saw our signs and asked about the protest. He told us he'd married his partner in Canada and come back, thanked us for our support, saying it was especially nice to see younger people ("the future of the country") out there, and advised us to not let this small setback stop us from keeping on this important issue. He was pissed off about the Democrats not acting like Democrats, and advised us to write letters and call if we felt the same way.
We'll be calling. We'll be writing. The vote did not go as we'd hoped. It is a setback, but the fight is far from over. This issue will not go away as long as discrimination is allowed, no matter what it takes.
 America, America
Shall we tell you how we feel?
You have given us your spirit
We love you so
Peace, peace, peace, peace
Hate will end and hate will cease
We must learn to live together
Peace, peace, peace
Shall we tell you how we feel?
You have given us your spirit
We love you so.
Love, love, love, love
The gospel of the world is love
Love thy neighbor as thy brother
Love, love, love.