Saturday, February 11, 2006

We The People

A couple of years ago on IRS Day (AKA April 15th) I joined a group of Marriage Equality folks in a protest at a local post-office. Here's the piece I wrote in response to that experience:

I really hadn’t known what to expect when I was asked to come lend my “clergy presence” to the gathering, but was happy to go hang out for awhile – figuring that a little political activism would be a great way to observe the Feast Day of Our Lady of Turbo Tax. We assembled out front of the post office at 5:00 p.m. – about thirty folks with the requisite rainbow flag and an assortment of signs including: “If You’re Going to TAX Us Then MARRY Us!” -- “Marriage Is A Human Right, Not A Heterosexual Privilege.”

The local media assembled seemed more interested in covering the late breaking news of motorists hurling manila envelopes into postal bins (on April 15th … imagine!) than they were in talking to us about gay marriage – although I did chat with a first-time filmmaker working on a documentary and have an interesting exchange with a reporter from an Italian news network.

He said he was surprised to see “religious people” supporting the issue and asked me what my position was. I liked being able to say that just as a I believe as a Christian that God’s blessing should be available to all people I believe as an American that Equal Constitutional Protection should be available to all citizens. In fact, I thought they were “separate but equally important” issues facing both the church and culture right now – and so couldn’t think of a better way to participate in that than to be part of the tax day protest action.

Fast forward to about three weeks ago when I got a call from Lisa Borelli -- the "first time filmmaker" from that April afternoon. The film she was making not only got made it was screening February 10th at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and she hoped Louise and I would be able to come. So off we went to Santa Barbara yesterday (after we got puppy-sitting arranged for Luna!) on a totally unasked for and unexpected media adventure.

What a treat.

Lisa's film -- "We The People" is a moving, timely and important portrait of the reality of gay and lesbian family lives drawn in sharp and revealing contrast to the rabid rhetoric of the Religious Right which is effectively woven throughout the film. Lisa is not a professional filmmaker -- she describes herself as "a mother who got mad." Last night in the crowded Santa Barbara screening room as the applauding audience wiped tears from their eyes at the end of the film's debut I thought of Cindy Sheehan -- another "mother who got mad." I thought of the impact her wilingness to rally others to end the madness has had. I wondered if "We The People" isn't precisely the kind of catalyst the Marriage Equality movement has been waiting for to challenge the political agenda of the Religious Right determined to make gay and lesbian families sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics.

I am convinced this is a film that should be seen and will make a difference. Check out the website and stay tuned. You're going to be hearing more about "We The People."

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