What a time we’ve had this week! With three rallies in our four days on the road, things have been going great . . . and we’re just getting started!
We started off in Augusta with close to 200 people on Wednesday, had roughly 150-200 in Manchester on Thursday, and around 100 in Albany today. People coming out from all across New England, leaving energized, excited, and ready to make a difference for marriage.
Today in Albany, it was a treat to see so many friends in the crowd, especially from last year’s marriage battle in the New York Senate. All those who came got to see Rev. McGuire in action – a good friend who was up at the Capitol almost continually last fall, and whose unflagging efforts helped rally the troops to stop same-sex marriage.
While we’ve been on the road, one of our staff told me I had to check out some of the gay marriage bloggers covering our tour. Some of them want so badly for our tour to fail . . . I think some of them have left the world of reality-based blogging.
One blogger claimed we had just 20 people turn out in Maine. You can look at the pictures for yourself and tell me there were only 20 people in Augusta on Wednesday! And even the pictures don’t do justice to the crowd of nearly 200.
My favorite so far, though, is the blog this morning “reporting” that our Albany rally was poorly attended . . . and the rally hadn’t even started yet!
They so badly want us to fail that they’re even willing to say the rally failed before it even happens.
I think I know why our opponents are so concerned about this tour. People are excited. We’re energizing people everywhere we go. They’re catching a vision for how we can work together to protect marriage all across the nation. That’s why I’m taking my family on a 6000 mile trip this summer – so I can meet you, and people like you, all across the eastern U.S., energizing and growing our army of marriage activists in every state.
Our opponents have also scheduled opposing rallies, each with the unique personality of the local group. Equality Maine held a separate rally inside the State House in Augusta. Obviously we believe in civil debate, and everything was very civil in Maine. In New Hampshire, the protestors stood silently across the street with some crazy signs (you can check out some of the pics at www.marriagetour2010.com).
But today’s protest was in a league all its own. Those of you following our Twitter feed may have already seen my comments: “Silliest. Protest. Ever.” was how I put it earlier today. Right in the middle of Dr. Morse’s presentation, a bunch of people with umbrellas started walking up on stage. I told them we had a permit for the space, but they refused to leave. Shortly, the Capitol police came out and said to the protestors -- You know that the marriage tour has a permit here . . . you should leave. But still they hung around, holding their rainbow-colored umbrellas.
I had to smile. There’s a reason political campaigns don’t crash opponents’ rallies – only the crashers come out looking silly. Eventually they’ll figure it out. If there’s one thing almost all Americans agree on, it’s the value of playing fair.
On a more serious note, though, there was another message they were sending today. One woman had brought her family out to the rally with a picnic lunch. During the rally she moved to the back to nurse her baby. A bunch of guys brought their rainbow umbrellas and stood directly in front of her, blocking her view of the stage. She asked them to move, and they refused. We have a video with the woman from afterword, and will be posting it later, but . . . Wow. Classy.
When I spoke again after Dr. Morse, I asked the audience: “What would the world look like if William Wilberforce, or the abolitionists, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had backed down when people heckled them or tried to intimidate them. This is an example of the same thing. Some of our opponents would love to intimidate us, but we just take it with a smile and don’t get upset."
Finally, as I finished speaking, the protestors started chanting that Dr. Martin Luther King supported equality. But then our bumper music started, they realized no one was paying any attention, and they quickly slipped away.
Another terrific stop. Almost everyone at the rally signed up for our Two Million for Marriage Campaign. Lots of enthusiasm for standing firm on marriage in New York.
Tonight, we’re on the road again, destination Providence, Rhode Island. We’re looking forward to a great rally tomorrow afternoon at 2pm at the State House in Providence. Tell your friends to come on out!