Marriage Equality Comes to Rhode Island: A Small Revery So Near the End


It’s been a good while coming.

People in the congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Providence have been dedicated to marriage equality for about a decade. For the past five years it has been a major project of the congregation. Two years ago the church voted by an overwhelming super majority to endorse marriage equality, calling a press conference and declaring “Homosexuality isn’t the sin, homophobia is.” A powerful moment in our congregational life.

Members of the church have worked hard.

And, we have almost won.

Yesterday I was with a team of clergy lobbying the senators ahead of their vote. The House had already passed a bill, and it has passed the Senate judiciary committee earlier this week.

It was exhilarating.

However, because we were lobbying, we didn’t get any of the seats in the gallery to actually witness the vote.

Most of us crowded in the “bell room,” really an alcove in the State House where a closed circuit television was set up. I was late for that and couldn’t get a seat.

After a while I recalled the Secretary of State’s office down in the basement had a couple of closed circuit televisions, and cushy leather couches, and I didn’t recall when my colleague Gene Dyszlevski and I walked down, but also air conditioning.

So, we had lovely seats watching the politicians gas on. And, my goodness, they put preachers to shame in their ability to wax eloquent with numerous self-references.

Finally, finally, the vote!

And we won.

We could hear the cheers upstairs, and made our way up. Lots of hugging, kissing, and tears.

Finally.

Well, not quite.

There are minor differences in the House and Senate bills and the final version will have to be approved by the House. Not merely procedural, but close to it.

The governor made a call for marriage equality a part of his inaugural address, so we expect his signature by the end of next week.

Tenth state to endorse marriage equality. The last of the New England states to do so… After all, we were the first colony to declare independence and the last to ratify the constitution, so we’re at the front in someways, and not in others…

This has been a major focus of our congregation for five years.

I think we deserve a breather.

And, then back to work.

Much yet to do…

Much to do…

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