We’ll Have a Gay Old TimeMay 13, 2008
My supplemental contract at my teaching job required that I travel for the weekend. So on Friday morning, I climbed on the bus with the students and headed for Harrisburg, Six Flags NJ, and Philadelphia. I had no expectations of this trip other than what the director had described in the itinerary: a performance in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania state capitol building, an adjudication of the choral group followed by a day at Six Flags Amusement Park in New Jersey, and a stop at Independence Hall on the way home.
What a gay weekend it turned out to be! We had some extra time to tour the capitol building, and I realized that I could pay a visit to my State Senator’s office. SB1250, the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” was recently tabled and the reason given, courtesy of Equality Advocates PA, was this:
The prime sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Michael Brubaker (R-Lancaster), stated that he was proposing the legislation be tabled because the Speaker of the House, Dennis O’Brien (R-Philadelphia), was going to assign the legislation to the House State Government Committee if it passed the Senate. The House State Government Committee is chaired by Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia), a strong supporter of the LGBT community, who is opposed to the legislation. Rep. Josephs has stated that she would not move the legislation out of committee.
That happened on Tuesday, May 6, and I had not heard any more information since then. I decided to pay a visit to Senator Kasunic’s office, gather more information on the status of the bill, then ask again that my Senator oppose this proposed amendment. I wandered the halls with the paper from the information desk and eventually found his office. As I suspected, the Senator was not in, as it was a Friday, but I did speak to a gentleman in the office. I was caught off guard. He told me that the bill was going “nowhere.” I was a bit speechless. I asked more about his statement. In our discussion, I learned that there was a lot of dissension among the Republicans about the bill. I also learned that very few of the Senators wanted to cast a vote on this bill during an election year. It would appear that SB1250 is dead, and those who wish to write discrimination into the state constitution will have to start from scratch during the next legislative session. This means that the earliest such an amendment could go to a public vote would be 2011.
On Saturday, we spent the day at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. I don’t usually like theme parks unless I’m with my kids or my partner. I rode some rides with the students and the moms who were chaperoning the trip. It wasn’t long before I started noticing “family members” in the park. There were groups of gay men, couples enjoying the park. At one point, I noticed a lesbian couple that had a great situation: one of the women was butch enough for them to look like a straight couple. They walked through the park hand in hand, and virtually unnoticed by the thousands of visitors.
On Sunday morning, we loaded the bus and headed for Philadelphia for a visit to Independence Hall.
As we rounded the corner to the Independence Mall, I felt welcomed by the Equality Forum banners hanging from the lampposts. Of course, I was a few days late for the events. I left the bus to explore on my own before our scheduled tour of Independence Hall. I discovered the historical marker you see above on the corner across from Independence Hall. It intrigued me, and when I returned home I did some research about the demonstrations in Philadelphia that pre-date the Stonewall riots. I discovered that there is some disagreement about the influence and importance of the Philly demonstrations, but have decided that any public demonstration that early in our quest for civil rights is of some importance.
The weekend that I thought would be lost, save for the obligations placed on me by playing piano for the choral group, turned out to be a learning experience and provided several affirmations of my life, my interests, and my goals of working toward equality for LGBT people.