Second-Class Citizens Loving and Fighting in Portland, Maine
Hey all, I'm taking a temporary detour from blogging my novel. A couple hours ago, I was sitting on the steps of Portland, Maine's City Hall, watching a press conference in response to the voters of Maine deciding against equality for all. Alas, the microphones did not work, and we had to strain to hear the speakers, especially with late-morning traffic buzzing behind us. But everyone behind the podium was nevertheless powerful and eloquent, refusing to give up hope.
A lot of us were crying and hugging, but we will keep fighting. We lost, but with smaller margins than with the anti-gay votes of 2004. We are on the right side of history, and future generations will be as embarrassed for our time as we are now when thinking about past laws forbidding interracial marriage or women voting.
We feel a lot of anger but will not let it turn to bitterness. While it is difficult not to burn with anger towards about half of my fellow Mainers for their ignorance, I will not turn away from them, but hope to keep talking and sharing with them until years from now, after my hubby Jason and I have gotten married, they will pretend they never opposed us in 2009.
During the press conference, there was a solitary couple holding an anti-marriage sign gloating that the voters had spoken. They reminded me of Nelson Muntz on The Simpsons pointing and exclaiming, "Ha ha!" Both of them were making hateful remarks about us. A group of No on 1 supporters, some of them still crying, locked arms and encircled the protestors with their backs turned to them. That I approved of. One supporter tried to cover up the hateful sign with her coat. That I did not approve of, because as poisonous as the message is, censoring it is not the answer.
Fortunately, the coat soon came down, and the heterosexists were able to keep holding up their sign. A local religious leader argued against them with brilliant restraint and class, explaining that Unitarians and many other churches are with us in our struggle.
Afterward, I went to the farmer's market on Monument Square, and I talked about this week's events with several perfect strangers, all wonderful people who offered hugs and support and the hope that we will change things for the better in the near future.
To quote Yoko Ono, who knows something about being hated and demonized for no reason, "Have courage. Have rage. We're rising. There's no confusion. We're all together."