Hermes' Thoughts

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Location: Boston, MA, United States

I am a clergyperson and was ordained in 1985 by the National Alliance of Pantheists. I received recognition through Our Lady and Lord of the Trinicrian Rose. I volunteer as a member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Boston Living Center. I live with my partner and spouse in a timy apartment in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. I like writing poetry as well an prose. I have been a Witch since 1971. I was born in Binghamton, NY and lived there until 1984 when I moved to Maine.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How We Helped Win the Battle Over the Right For Same Sex Couples to Marry

By Rev. Bro. H. Bruce Baldwin / Hermes Polyandron

June 14, 2007: In case you haven't heard, we won the right to Same Sex Marriage by defeating an Anti-Gay Amendment to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Constitution by a vote by the combined Legislature of 151 against to 45 for. An astounding victory for us. Ursus (my legal spouse for three years June 26th, and partner by Handfasting for 14 years June 15th.) and I were there from the beginning of the day to until after 2:30.
We had to get up by 4 AM to make it down to St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. We joined with other clergy of the Religious Coalition for the Right to Marry. The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry is a coalition of clergy of Christian, Jews and a few Pagans that support the Right of GLBT people to have the same rights at the general population. They almost all wore their clerical regalia, collars and robes, as well as their ordination stoles. I wore my green robe, cape and head-band and my stole from my Ordination in 1985. Almost as soon as I was dressed, we were interviewed by a reporter from the Boston Globe. The Globe is a more reputable paper, in my opinion, than the Herald, which has turned into a scandal sheet I won't even accept a free Herald when it is offered to me because of the editorial policies, although they did do a nice review of Eastern Massachusetts Pagan Pride a couple of years ago. Since then they have became more and more sensationalized. Anyways, she asked us what we were there for, and I explained that we were there as clergy to oppose an amendment to the Commonwealth's Constitution that would make discrimination against same sex couples a part of the law of the state. She also asked about what I was wearing which I told her that we were Pagans, and that we believed that Love knows no boundaries, and that was the reason to fight against this amendment. I, then, proudly introduced Ursus as my legal spouse. She then went on an talked to other clergy that were there.
We arrived about 7 am, and they started to get things going about 7:45. Maureen, a long time friend of ours, and priestess of Aphrodite (see the article Independent Pagans of New England at the GLBT Pride Parade) brought four flags and a banner for the Church of the Sacred Source. There were two Rainbow Flags and two American Flags.
First we were briefed on what our conduct should be. We were asked not to be confrontational as there was a gathering of those that supported the amendment that might be aggressive towards us. After that there were a series of speakers that talked about the importance of the day. Two were Christian and one Jewish. They told us each in their own way that God was with us. Of course, I mentally adjusted the phrase to say the Gods. We were had members of the Boston Gay Mens Chorus singing to us. A young rabbi was particularly poignant in that he talked about being a Gay man as well as a member of a religious minority. We could definitely identify with being that dual minority. After prayers were offered, we left the undercroft (a room under the sanctuary) and proceeded outside to the front steps of the Episcopal Cathedral where we posed for a group photo. There we were given notes of songs to sing as we crossed the Common to the State House. As we started singing, we crossed Tremont Street to the Common and across that to the State House. We came up beside the Shaw Monument of the Black Civil War Union Division that was depicted in the movie “Glory”, and crossed Beacon Street to the sidewalk and steps to the State House where later, early in that afternoon the full legislature would vote on the amendment. We were 6 votes short last January to get this amendment killed, and the opposition was feeling that they would get it on the ballot in 2008. As we came up singing a Civil Rights song, the police pushed back the backers of the amendment, so we could cross the street to join the already cheering Mass Equality people that were already there. What we didn't see, but the Mass Equality people saw, was the faces of shock and dismay at the clergy crossing to the people that opposed the amendment, standing against the pro-amendment people. Ursus, Maureen and I mounted the steps in front of the gates (which were chained and locked) of the State House, we with our Rainbow Flags, and Maureen with her banner.
Then began a verbal duel of chants and singing with the other side of the street. We were twice to three times in numbers already, and could out shout and chant the opposition, and did. Cars, tour buses and trucks honked in support for us, and we let the other side know it each time. We sang songs and slogans, and smiled at them as they stood angry and hateful across the street. This went on for several hours until some of our supporters in the legislature showed up and told us that we had a chance. They also walked the sidelines and shook hands (like good politicians) and then went into the State House. Of course, each time one of our supporters would come up to us we would chant "Thank You, thank you, thank you."
As noon approached more came to see us and they were met with same Thank yous as before. During the hours we spent in front of the State House, a red-tailed hawk flew over us. Three times it would do that. As the Red-tailed Hawk is my spirit animal, you know that I take that as a good omen.
One of the more interesting moments as we stood in front of the gates on the steps of the State House was a man from Boise, Idaho came up to me and declared that he was Pagan himself, but not open about it back home. I asked if he was with a tour group. He said yes, and that they were standing next to us. I looked and saw a group of children ranging from nine to twelve years old. I asked if they realized what was going on. He told me they did and had actually taken a vote as to sightseeing or coming and joining the demonstration and they voted that they felt that it was important to be with us. They were of course, as I was told Unitarians. It brought home to me the importance not only of what was going on in our state but that the eyes of all of America were on us, and not all of America was against us. I thanked them, and if by any chance they see this article, I again thank you for your support. You have witnessed what grass-0roots democracy can do when the rights of free people are in jeopardy.
In the last hour, before the Constitutional Convention went into session, the staffers of Mass Equality went through the crowd and told people that they could go into an audience hall to watch the proceedings. So for a while the crowd got thinner on our side as the other swelled. But as lunch time came our numbers swelled again, so that the sidewalk became crowded again. All the time the other side of the street, shouted "let the people vote." We realized that to do so would have been very divisive, as there was a great difference of opinion about the subject, and we were wondering if all the work we had done, lobbying that had been done would pay-off or not. Any further campaigning would have stressed the Commonwealth’s resources over a question that should not have been in question as it is a matter of Civil Rights.
At 1pm the Constitutional Convention convened and we waited, but not too long for by 1:15 we could hear cheering down the line near the entrance to the State House, and as the cheering went up the line we were wondering what was going on. They finally got to us and we heard the results of the vote was on our favor. Our Rights had been preserved. The Amendment was voted down. It took a minute to sink in but all of a sudden the whole crowd went into jubilation and dancing and singing. Maureen and the two of us began to sing Patriotic songs, and the whole crowd followed our lead. I started to chant "Love wins over Hate." and the crowd picked it up.
As we celebrated we had a man come up to us and ask us if we wanted to hold a banner the said "Thank You." on it. So we did, Soon after that the organizers asked us to step down and let them up on the steps. We did. As we stood there, they announced that the final tally was 151 to 45, the amendment is dead.. “Yahhhhhh... “
About this time, I looked up at the State House and saw some people out on the balcony from the Governors office, I told Ursus to turn the banner towards the State House, and as we did the Governor came out of his office and stood on the balcony with his staff. We cheered him and shouted our thanks, as he had lobbied on our behalf with the legislature, as well. I saw him talk to an aide and then he went back into his office. The speeches went on out front. Then we saw State Troopers crossing the lawn in front of the State House and came down the sidewalk, asking us to back up with our banner, and told me that someone important wanted to come out to us. We backed up and more troopers came rushing out. At that point, I saw people coming out of the west side of the State House, coming down the walkway. I felt it was the governor but was astonished to see that he was followed by others as well. Camera men and reporters began to crowd around this approaching group of men and women, some obviously security. It was Governor Duval Patrick all right, and members of the Legislature. By now the balcony was full of people as we were chanting “Thank you, thank you, thank you." to them. Ursus spoke to one of the troopers asking him to make sure that the Governor saw the banner we held. When Governor Duval Patrick got to us along with a dozen media people, he stopped just passed me, looked and started to shake hands, Ursus got to shake hands with the Governor of Massachusetts.
Duval went up on the steps and talked for a while and told us we had had a great victory today and made history. But he cautioned not to gloat, and to keep vigilant, because the opposition was not going to give up, and that they were citizens like us that would not stop now but would continue. We need to keep fighting for our rights, for they will need to be defended. Then he said that we should respect the opposition for they had rights too, and left. He was followed by the Senate President and other legislative members that wanted congratulate us on our victory and the grass roots support we raised in the last six months that turned the vote around. As they spoke, a man came over near us wearing a red shirt with "Proud to be a Pagan Fighter" on it, He tried to get in the way and the police told him to stay back and he called them Nazis for that. I thought 'Look who's talking." but kept it to myself. He wouldn’t relent and Ursus said that he was lead away but the police. Another incident that I heard was a blind supporter was being escorted across the street to the Public transportation was nearly assaulted by a woman from the opposition, and when she did she too was arrested and taken away. I can not understand why people that call themselves Christians can be so hateful. Amongst the Christian Clergy that were with us, I could see the true convictions of their beliefs.
Finally they all had their thanks and the organizers said their thanks to the supporters, like the Human Right Campaign, NOW, the unions and so on.
As we started to go Maureen gathered us together, and some of the other ministers as well, and did a libation to Hera, Aphrodite, Persephone as guardians of marriage, and Themis the goddess of Justice.
After was a celebration at Club Café, which we went to briefly after doing some work at the Living Center. They were still celebrating when we went home. It was a long day, but joyously History making. As the American Revolution began in Massachusetts with the shot heard round the world, its echoes can still be heard today. The gods were with us but now we need to be vigilante, for those that would take those right away won’t go away soon.
Love & Blessed Be, Hermes Polyandron

This was an article that was submitted to The Witches' Voice but was never given space on that site.