Thursday, July 13, 2006

On the Ground at the ConCon

My agent at the Massachusetts State House for yesterday's ConCon reports:
The opponents faced off over Beacon Street yesterday, anti-gay marriage people stood on the Common side, their backs to the Mass 54th memorial, the pros in front of the State House. The antis floated an orange balloon the size of Mini Cooper that read Jesus is the LORD. Most of their signs read Let the People Vote. The one man I asked why he was against gay marriage shouted at me about God, the Bible, sin, and hell, even after I told him I believe God has no problem with gay marriage. Is this about suffrage or religion? I pointed my finger at each anti and counted up to about 150.

On the other side of the street, the pros numbered at least double that. While most of the antis had machine-printed placards, most of the pros signs were hand-painted—and colorful, by the way. (Word is that they were bused in as well.) When the downpour hit a few minutes after I arrived, the paint on their signs melted into rainbows. Pro chants were led by a red-headed guy wearing a red and orange cape. He stood in the street facing the crowd and danced and dodged cars.

Inside the State House, the Hall of Flags held the pros and antis, separated by one of the blue ropes used to control traffic and access all over the building. The antis numbered about 20, the pros about 100. Everyone was waiting for news. While I was there, a man entered the pros side and reported that an effort to move the anti-gay amendment higher on the agenda had been voted down in favor of considering the health care amendment. Much cheering and agreeing that health care was definitely more important than messing with gay marriage.

I decided to sit with the antis and eavesdrop a bit—I am incapable of talking with them. But the door to their section was blocked by tall man in a business suit followed by a guy with a video cam on his shoulder. They strode through the anti section and stepped over the rope to the pros. The pros stood up clapped and cheered. Who is this rock star I wondered? He stood next to a man in a clerical collar and reported that, basically, nothing has happened. A man behind me said he thought the guy was Marc Solomon, campaign director of MassEquality. That has yet to be confirmed.

Later I decide to try to enter the gallery. The line was short—about a dozen people. Each time someone left the gallery, the door guard would hold up fingers showing how many could enter. Two antis queued behind me, asked how long was the wait. After watching some women relinquish their bags before entering the gallery, the women behind me had this discussion: "We can’t take our purses in there?" "I don’t think so. Look, they make them leave their purses out." "I don’t want to go in without my purse." "I don’t either." They left. With their purses. At one point five full-dress nuns exited the gallery and the line gave a little gasp of pleasure—five could go in at once!

Watching the legs in action was fascinating, but boring to report. Two legislators managed to work in complaints about not voting on the anti thing. At one point Not-Bobby had to bang the gavel to get the kids to settle down and focus. I was ready to leave at 5 p.m. if nothing had happened, but at 5 they were in the middle of voting on an item, and I decided to wait to see what happened when that was done. Happily, Diane Wilkerson (in a snazzy purple suit—I could write reams about the clothes on legs—girls and boys) moved to recess till November 9. The vote count was tense, as the red (anti) lights seemed to outnumber the green on the vote tally board. When the totals showed, the antis outnumber the pros—83 to 70 something. Then they added the senators vote, and the motion carried, 100 to 91. The pros in the gallery leapt up and cheered and ran out of the room, which appalled the guards who hissed after them — It’s still in session!
Pic Note: The photo is from sushiesque's stream -- many others there.

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Ryan said...

Good report! It's a shame we didn't bump into each other there.

massmarrier said...

I agree it's a good report, but I can't take credit for it. The writer is my uxorial unit, who is shy about what you and I do aggressively. She didn't want a citation.

I was captive in South Boston, but she was able to get there.

It looks like we'll all get chances coming to to rub shoulders at rallies and hearings.

Uncle said...

Thinking back to my stint in '04, when work didn't interfere. Whatever else, it is great theatre. It would be greater if the other side weren't so hobbled by spitefulness and one could have actual discourse.

I can't speak with them either, not any more. At the end of my sixth stint in '04, I had to leave and not return, because I was sure I would give way and do something that would not help this cause in the slightest. A thousand blessings on those who can stand up to such vileness and retain their sense of humour. One day, I may acquire the perspective. For now, it's just "been there."