It feels real now. Today I'll be driving over to the Minnesota capitol in a carload of clergy and I'm sure that our conversation will turn to the practical considerations wrapped up in, "How will we officiate at all these new weddings?"
What a great conversation to have! If things go according to plan -- and smart people have planned carefully -- the House will vote today, the Senate will vote Monday, and then the Governor will be able to sign the marriage equality bill into law immediately. The law is slated to take effect Aug. 1.
This part of the journey hasn't felt real for me. After diving head over heals into the fight against the ballot initiative which would have put discrimination into the Minnesota Constitution last year, I pretty much sat this one out. (By the way, Mother's Pride, and it's the week of Mothers' Day, so I get to have it: Here is the final school project that my 10th grader produced from five months of full time work on that initiative. It's in two parts. The first section is an interview and footage of the teen at work, the second a celebration of victory night. Get out your Kleenex!)
I've had a hard time believing we could win, even though objectively it seemed like we should be able to. I began to believe it last Sunday, when I ran into Rep. Karen Clark, our first lesbian state rep, at the MayDay Parade, and asked her about it. Her reply was a happy grin and a, "Yes, we'll vote this week!" But even then it didn't sink in.
It wasn't till last night, at a vigil at the wonderful ELCA church right by the Capitol, that I believed it. Praying, singing, sitting quietly, something in my heart opened up that I had not known was closed. And then, when we honored those who went before to make today possible, I finally believed it. I thought of all of those AIDS services I officiated at and attended in the '80s; men much too young to be gone, while President Ronald Reagan never once uttered the word AIDS. And I thought of President Obama, publicly evolving on the issue of marriage equality. And of Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Al Franken, my representatives, who never needed to publicly evolve, because they were right there with all families in their initial campaigns for office.
I thought of friends who have worked in every aspect of this struggle for GLBT equality, those still living and those now dead, who continue to labor for justice for all kinds of people and issues. I thought of the folks in that very sanctuary, interfaith and UU colleagues, with whom I have plotted and schemed, celebrated and grieved, for decades now.
I thought of the many ministers and priests I know who have left their calling or kept their mouths shut and their heads down, the denominations that have altered their positions and begun to ordain, marry and recognize full equality of GLBT people, and the ones that have not.
And suddenly, with all of them sitting there with me, tears began to fall, and I knew in my heart and in my cells that we were going to make it. It would happen. It will happen. Right here in Minnesota, there will be marriage equality.
The thing is, if the Traditional Marriage zealots hadn't pushed that awful ballot initiative at us, I don't think we'd be doing this. But all of that grassroots organizing morphed seamlessly into a fight for marriage equality we'd never thought we could win. When Illinois comes on board, too, the maps will suddenly show a big Midwestern block of support. Iowa is not an anomaly anymore.
So today I'll be walking around the Minnesota House and the State Capitol with a big grin on my face, talking to people about when, where and how they plan to get married.