JWG (jwg) wrote,

Mass legislature lobbying and rallies

Today, rsc and I went to the EqualMarriage rally at the statehouse. We actually got in unlike pinkfish because they had closed the doors when the chamber filled. There were about 500 people there overflowing the hall and staircases; various speeches, some singing, lots of applause and cheering and chanting Just Say NO.

Rev. Peter Gomes (Harvard - Memorial Church) was one of the more articulate speakers. He talked about how appalling it was that many black ministers were taking the Discrimination is OK position. I was most impressed by a Policeman from W Mass who is a GLBT policeman's organization leader - he said I'm out on the street defending people's civil rights - why can't I have my own for me and my partner now?

Afterwards we went to see two known-on-the-fence senators. The first was Steve Tolman (N Cambridge (not ours). There were a bunch of people there who we joined with. He essentially said he was waiting to see how the wind blows and exactly what the proposed amendment said before deciding what to do. We missed part of the meeting and he had to rush off to a meeting. He clearly showed that he worried about the consequences of his vote on reelection.

Then we went to see Bruce Tarr (Gloucester where we own a house but don't vote - we told him that). While waiting to see him in his outer office his staff said this was the busiest and most vocal issue they'd seen. He said he was still on the fence. But he talked with us at length, articulately. He clearly has been thinking and reading a lot about this topic - cited Loving v. Virginia among other things. He seems to think that Civil Unions would work especially in other states because of their DOMAs and might actually be more effective. We talked about all those federal benefits and the Full Faith and Credit clause in the constitution and how that might allow us to gain many protections and benefits. We talked about letting us get married would give us our rights in Massachusetts and was the best path towards this form of equality. I think there is a reasonable change he'll vote NO - but we'll see. (He is a Republican, a rarity in Mass - but won't hold that against him).

I'd talked to Tarr's and Tolman's aides last Thursday when I went to Lobby day. I also talked to Tim Toomey's (my rep) aide and Anne Paulsen's (not my rep but the one rep in Cambridge who I'd heard was on the fence. They both said their people were NO on any amendment.

I talked to Anthony Verga (rep Gloucester) who was against marriage for us but for civil unions. We talked quite a while - he said it was a matter of his personal belief that was inconsistent with letting us be married. He said he was appalled by the actions of the Catholic church on this issue.

I sent letters to all five people and reported back to the EqualMarriage people about what I had learned.

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