"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Monday, June 09, 2008


I realise that my votes in my state's House of Representatives have a direct impact upon people's lives. I don't often see that impact up close. On Saturday I did.

Last year a same-gender civil union bill came before the Legislature and I can't claim to be objective about it. When my finger pressed the green button for an enthusiastic "Yes" vote, I acted on behalf of loved ones. My blood relatives. My in-laws. My many friends whose lives were either painfully or happily altered by their coming out. People whose names and stories I will never know.

I even attended the bill signing ceremony, something I almost never do, just to watch with my own eyes as our Governor's signature turned that bill into our state law. I felt pride in the fact that this was a voluntary legislative action to ensure civil rights--it was not done by court mandate, as in the handful of other states with similar laws. On January 1 of this year, the law took effect. Since then, a couple of legislators have taken advantage of it.

And on Saturday, in a very private but quite beautiful way, so did two friends of ours, who first committed to one another two decades ago.

Their civil union, presided over by a justice, took place inside a church but not in the sanctuary. After we witnessed the brief ceremony--and yes, I got very emotional--we proceded into the sanctuary for a Eucharist service, which concluded with a brief blessing.

Now, the issue of sanctioning and blessing same sex unions liturgically is a controversy and will probably continue to be. As I undergo my own discernment in these matters, I understand and respect all feelings that have been expressed.

But I also know that my denomination has a long history of blessing buildings, fishing fleets, motorcycles, garments, household pets, and farm animals. It therefore seemed perfectly natural to me that a priest--and all the rest of us--prayed on behalf of a couple joined in a union that is lawful in this and several other states.

As at any modern-day family event--wedding, baptism, confirmation, graduation--a professional videographer and sound tech were present, a still photographer as well. Many members of the congregation (me included) had cameras.

The Chap had a theory that the colourful shoes one party to the union was sporting might've come from his acquaintance Elton John. It turned out not to be the case.

After the service we lingered in the church, chatting with friends. The Chap and I were the last to exit the building. It was sunny--and oh, so hot--and I noticed that the roses were blooming riotously across the street on the lawn of the State House, my home away from home these past two years.

Turning to my personal photographer, I asked if he would take my picture. This was an opportunity for a photographic souvenir of my time in the State House. I was wearing a favourite and rarely-worn dress (purchased ten years ago because it complements the gorgeous bead necklace my mother brought back from Venice.)

"Sure," says the Chap.

As we started across the street, we noticed video cameras assembled on the opposite curb, and assumed they were the ones that had been inside the church. Unperturbed, we walked straight towards them. A young man nipped out from behind the big camera and accosted us.

"What was it like?"

"Joyous," I said. At which point I realised, given the nature of his question, that he hadn't been inside.

"A typical Episcopal service," the Chap said, accurately. "Pomp. Music."

"Joyous," I repeated.

Belatedly we noticed the microphone hanging from his belt, with the television station logo printed on it.

Hastily the reporter said, "We're not interviewing attendees. We're respecting everybody's privacy."

In case you hadn't guessed by now, the couple who had just been united were high-profile enough to garner media attention.

I asked him how the local station had learned about the event. They were tipped off by the foreign press.

Off we went. My photo session was brief. The light wasn't right for posing with roses, or the Liberty Bell. The Chap had the clever notion of placing me under the columned portico, on the steps, with the stained glass state seal above me.

We then drove to the historic and spiritually significant site of the reception.

We all posed for a group photo. The photographers perched on one of the buildings.

On that hot and humid and happy night there were speeches. And poems. Laughter. And tears. Delicious food. Harp music and folk music. Even a singalong.

We were fortunate in our tablemates, the couple at whose home we saw Barack Obama last summer.

When we got back to the Lodge, we were too excited--and too hot--to be sleepy. I turned on the 11 o'clock news, mostly for the weather forecast, to learn how long this heatwave is supposed to last.

And there we were, on the tv screen, the Chap and I, captured by the Channel 9 cameraman as we crossed the street from the church to the State House lawn. (The footage showed up again on the Sunday morning news program.) My "joyous" comment was not quoted. An official photo of the united couple, released with their permission, accompanied the story.

Didn't get much beauty sleep, which normally wouldn't matter. But I had an afternoon date with a video producer and crew. Yesterday I was interviewed as part of a DVD project--at the very same church where the civil union and Eucharist had taken place the day before. The lighting tech turned out to be the still photographer hired for the civil union ceremony and reception.

I've worked both sides of the camera, and believe me, I would've preferred to be on the cameraman's side and not in the hot seat. But I was a good girl and followed the directions I was given and answered the interviewer's questions as best I could. And all the while I was powerfully reminded of why I abandoned a future as an on-camera person to become a writer/producer instead.

Last night was exciting, too. The bear stopped by--I'd forgotten to bring the feeders in. The dogs were barking insanely before and after I emerged outdoors to retrieve the feeders. The bear came back. And left a few claw marks on the deck.

After such a happenin' weekend, you may be sure we're having a quiet Monday. (A hot one, too....) The two main things on the agenda are releasing the little turtles and bathing the dogs. And trying to keep cool!

No comments: