Marriage Equality: A Postcard From the Culture Wars

Marriage Equality: A Postcard From the Culture Wars February 10, 2011

Yesterday afternoon I traveled to the State House in support of the launch of legislation calling for marriage equality for the third time since I’ve come to Rhode Island to serve as minister of the First Unitarian Church.

The place was packed.

The major difference from my experience was that this was the first time I saw anybody coming in opposition. There weren’t a lot, but they made the best of the situation, standing as a phalanx on the interior steps on the north side where most people enter the building. It maximized their effect especially considering how few of them there were. Mostly they seemed people doing their civic best, although there was one fellow in the middle of the crowd who was sweating and screaming a lot. I’m afraid people bought into it and mocked him until it was time for the speakers to begin, when he quieted down and attention turned to what was really going on, a pretty massive demonstration in favor of marriage equality.

Before that, as I milled about looking for members of our congregation so we could unfurl our Standing on the Side of Love banner, I noticed several lean men in black clerical suits wearing the one man one woman equal marriage paper stick on button those opposed to marriage equality mostly were wearing up on the second balcony surveying the scene. I asked a clergy colleague who opined they were their worried about the state of my soul. I noticed they looked grim as they watched the crowd. I wondered why they didn’t stand with the phalanx and I found myself telling myself a small story about manipulation and control. But, of course, simply a story based on way too few facts. Perhaps, it was even true, more likely, however, such was the negative energy…

Which, gladly, turned vastly more positive as things proceeded. The speakers stood beneath a large banner proclaiming the governor’s support for equality. A first since I’ve been here, and a significant part of why I think Rhode Island may well stand for justice and marriage equality this year.

Then as I was leaving the building and making my way carefully along the icy sidewalk I was walking behind a man in a suit talking into his phone. He clearly was a journalist and he was explaining to someone that they needed to be clear that the people standing outside the building – our crowd had exceeded the maximum number of folk allowed inside at once, and there were maybe two hundred of them outside in the bitter cold – that they be sure to say there were both people in favor of and against marriage equality out there.

I was a bit shocked because to the degree one can judge by signs and buttons on lapels there were very, very few people there against marriage equality and lots and lots in favor.

Part of that trying to make sure there are two side addressed in the quest for fair and balanced, even when it makes one side seem more than it is…

I don’t know if it all comes out in the wash somewhere along the line evening up, but it didn’t seem so to me at the time. And I left with the tiniest bad taste in my mouth.

But, such are the culture wars.

We are in a time of radical change.

 And unfair media treatment, well, that’s probably the least of things that can and maybe will happen before we’ve come to justice on this issue.




I know, I really know in my bones, that this is one we will win.

We will overcome this injustice, shine the light of hope and love on this one small corner of things.

And who knows what good that will birth into this sad world.

I’m so glad to be part of the project…

We will overcome.

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