Boston Stands for Equality at Rally and Candlelight Vigil

Needham couple Jennifer Collins and Gretchen Randall, and their two children, Addison and Shea attended the MassEquality rally on March 26th at Boston City Hall Plaza.  Photo: The Rainbow Times (c)

Needham, Mass. couple Jennifer Collins and Gretchen Randall, and their two children, Addison and Shea attended the MassEquality rally on March 26th at Boston City Hall Plaza.
Photo: The Rainbow Times (c)

By: Francisco L. White* /TRT Reporter—

Boston, Mass.—It was a day of high emotion and demonstrations of solidarity. In the afternoon, as the DOMA battle raged at the U.S. Supreme Court, hundreds of LGBTQ individuals and allies gathered and filled City Hall Plaza. Approximately 500 attendees showed up for the historic rally. The historic rally, organized by MassEquality, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Family Equality Council and many others, featured an impressive lineup of speakers, including Mayor Tom Menino who was joined by members of Boston Pride in raising the rainbow flag.

“It’s encouraging to see politicians finally catching up to the people on this issue. … America is for equality,” Menino said as he addressed the crowd. “This issue is about equality also. We’re going to make sure everyone has equal opportunity … not just for some of the people, but for all [emphasis added]. … As other states followed our lead in recent years, it should be an easy call for the Supreme Court today and tomorrow. … We shouldn’t let justices stop our momentum [that] we have in America today.”

The event was attended by GLAD, ACLU, as well as several city and state politicos, including Senate candidate Congressman Ed Markey. Many attendees in the crowd held LGBT for Markey signs. Markey thanked Mayor Menino for “being a fearless leader” for the LGBT community and other minorities.

Rep. Carl Sciortino, of Somerville, delivered a powerful statement, saying, “We will, in the end, overcome every obstacle to our full equality.” He added that he is planning to marry his partner in October.

Community leader and executive director of ¿Oíste?, Alejandra St. Guillen, spoke of her personal experience as an openly lesbian Latina and explained that, though she has had to negotiate with relatives about her sexual identity, she “will not negotiate with the federal government of the United States, which was built on individual liberty.”

A lesbian couple from Needham, Jennifer Collins and Gretchen Randall, and their two children, Addison and Shea, were also at the rally. The difficulties of not having full rights affect their family and other people’s understanding of it.

“It will allow us to not have to justify our existence to our kids and explain to them why people might not understand or might not agree that they can be normal, that they can be normal,” said Randall.

“I think it’s time that my family and my kids can grow up in a time when everyone is treated equally and it will prevent me from having to continue to explain to them why our family is treated differently just because of who we are,” said Collins.

Perhaps most moving of all speakers was Keegan O’Brien, local activist and tutor at Bridge Over Troubled Waters, who mentioned several other issues that plague the LGBT community.

“It is a crime that, in the richest country in the world, we push LGBTQ youth onto the streets,” said O’Brien. “History has never been made by waiting for those at the top of society to deliver it for us. It is made by people like you and I coming together and organizing.”

Kara S. Suffredini, Esq., executive director of MassEquality described O’Brien as a rising star in the LGBT community.

An attendee who spoke to The Rainbow Times without revealing his last name, Terrence R., from Cambridge, Mass., explained that he attended LGBT events, rallies, etc. in honor of his brother “who died of AIDS in 1973 and was instrumental in the Dallas, TX gay movement of the late 70’s, 80s and 90s. Everything I try to do is in honor of my brother.”

Terrence had accolades for the LGBT movement and power, while also explaining his views of what seems as an unregulated body – the U.S. Supreme Court – making a decision about the rights of citizens of the U.S.

“I have no idea what the Supreme Court will actually decide on. I have an opinion of the Supreme Court and it is that that body is out of control,” said Terrence R. “It became apparent when the question of George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by the Supreme Court. There is no regulation anywhere in any law authorizing the Supreme Court to make a decision in reference to popular ballot. It should have been clear, at that time that this body needs to get seriously regulated.”

Regarding the gay movement, Terrence R added, “it’s a phenomenal tool, the tactic and the fervor with which the organization is promoted, it’s a very positive example for any grassroots organization, any issue-oriented organization and every basis democratic organization in this country could take a lesson from the determination and success of the gay movement.”

Suffredini concluded the rally by saying, “I challenge each of you to tell people what you did today. Tell them where you were. If each of you did that, imagine how many minds will change.”

The Boston rally was one of hundreds held around the country yesterday in support of marriage equality.

Later in the day, a candlelit vigil on the steps of the Massachusetts State House addressed the fact that equality requires much more than marriage rights. Organized by GetEqual MA, the vigil was one of over 150 that are taking place nationwide, including one that was hosted in Springfield on Monday night. The vigils are coordinated by the Light the Way to Justice Coalition. Sasha Kaufmann, executive director of GetEqual MA, mentioned “calendar luck” or the irony of timing, pointing out that Passover celebrates the freedom of Hebrews from Eqypt. Kaufmann said, “The way to freedom is through equality.”

Iraq War veteran, Vivian Taylor, was also given the opportunity to speak to the small crowd of approximately twenty.

“No legal system is ever going to be entirely right. We all have to bend toward justice, when coming up against an unjust system,” said Taylor, a trans-identified woman. “I think we are on the cusp of an amazing victory but that does not mean the fight is over.”

*Other TRT staff members contributed to this story. To view TRT photos for this story visit our Facebook page.

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