10 May 2013


When I first arrived at the world's greatest church (Judson Memorial Baptist Church) I jumped with the congregation to defeat the amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman in the constitution.  After the amendment was defeated in November the movement caught its breath and then doubled down to push for same sex marriage.  Recently, I have not been able to attend the events at the capitol due to illness, baseball coaching duties, and events at the kids' schools but nothing was going to stop my attendance at the capitol as the House voted on the marriage equality bill yesterday.

I looked up directions (I've not been to the statehouse yet) and headed over to the eastern suburb of Minneapolis, which also serves as the state capitol.  I pulled off the right exit and accidentially turned right rather than left (but I didnt know that at first).  Initially, I was a little worried because there were so many empty parking spots in the visitor lots.  I thought, again my superior parking gene was in high gear and most folk must have parked somewhere else.  Once I parked the car I noticed something very strange, "The statehouse does not have a cross on top of it!"  Then I turned around and noticed my mistake, I parked at the cathedral, not the statehouse.  Oh well, it was just a mile  - walk.  

Upon arrival I checked in as a member of the clergy, was told where to stand and personed my spot along the rotunda balcony on the second floor.  Very quickly I noticed something I had not thought about: inside the capitol building were a few thousand people, packed tightly in together, with little air circulation.  So?  So, it was kinda smelly.  Especially when you add a few granola folk for whom deodorant is not high on their list.  

But it didn't matter the energy in the room was amazing, not to mention the sound - it was extremely loud, even during quiet moments there was still an ongoing drone of human activity.  

For the first couple of hours I stood along the second floor rotunda looking down on the main floor activities.  There were people decked out in orange chanting energizing slogans.  There were monks and kids praying on their knees, there were bible thumpers (literal bible thumpers) stating the Jesus doesnt want gay marriage in Minnesota, and a guy with a large poster board of the ten commandments with a special emphasis on sex.  I want to stay here with this guy for a moment.  On the other side of his sign he had written You Are on Camera.  But after fifteen minutes or so he pulled out a magic marker and wrote over top of You Are on Camera.  Only one problem, no one could read what he wrote!  If only, Mrs. Poe my fourth grade teacher could have been there, she would've told him you never write over your previous writing; you start over, erase it, or live with your previous statement!

Minnesotans for All Families had two signs, one which was the basic I support the Freedom to Marry type.  The other read I Am (fill in the blank) and I support the Freedom to Marry.  What a great idea.  Folk filled in the blank with all kinds of interesting descriptions, I am an Episcopal Priest, I am a Lesbian, I am a Frat Boy, I am a soul experiencing the physical world, I am a human being, and my favorite I am a Licensed Minister - as Jimi said, at least he was law abiding.  

Around 1:00 or so the crowd shifted to the doors of the House chambers.  And every ten minutes or so someone would say, any minute now.  I didn't buy it.  Politicians never hurry to vote, especially when the debate is televised.  Around 3:00pm the vote happened, was announced, and the top of the statehouse nearly exploded with a roar of happiness.  There were high fives, hugs & tears, elations, screams, and shouts of joy (I'm crying as I relive the moment).  As we waited for the legislators to emerge someone started singing Chapel of Love and we all started singing.

The author Philip Roth once wrote that childhood ceases when you see your father cry.  What does it mean when an entire community cries (pastors & mayors {Rybak was weeping and hugging us all}, mothers & fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, students and teachers, lawyers and construction workers).  I would say in some way we all matured into a new community, a new state.  

Then the legislators emerged and the cheers roared again.  Mayor Rybak started us chanting Thank You, Thank You, Thank You...  And the legislators were visibly moved, they were crying with us, high fiving the crowd, and lifting up their arms in celebration.  

My eyes were teary but mostly I was just smiling, overjoyed, and elated at what had just happened.  Then I gave Jenny a hug and couldn't contain my emotions anymore - the tears flowed in joy, joy, joy.  I am so happy for her and the other beautiful and wonderful families and couples who will shortly be able to be legally "married."   

On Monday I'll take my daughter out of school and take her for the Senate passage so she too can relish this historic moment.  Then after Gov. Dayton signs the bill I'm going to block off the entire month of August (except for the 24th, dont worry Doug and Alyssa) for the marriages of the wonderful GLBT couples at Judson.  

I was so proud to be the pastor & representing the congregation at the statehouse.  Amen & Amen.