On June 14th, 2007, the Massachusetts Legislature gathered in a constitutional convention for the final vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. If the amendment received 50 votes out of 200 legislators (25%), it would go on to the 2008 Massachusetts ballot - drawing the entire religious right into Massachusetts for the nastiest political battle they could devise.
After two and a half years of hard-fought primary & special elections, we'd turned the legislature around from nearly 60% in favor of banning gay marriage, down to just over 25%, and in those last few days nobody knew whether we'd turned those last few votes. Outside the state house, a throng of bright-faced pro-equality demonstrators with brightly colored signs greeted legislators on their way in. Across the street, a quiet group of anti-gay demonstrators, all holding the same green signs, faced us, and a line of TV trucks stretched down Beacon Street as far as I could see.
Later, in the gallery, MassEquality led us in song as the constutional convention gathered. They'd split the gallery for amendment supporters on the right and equality supporters on the left; the right side had seats open while the left overflowed, and equality supporters filled the balconies on both sides. They called the vote right away, and legislators' names one by one. We were listening closely for the names of legislators whose votes we weren't sure of ... which way did they go? An unexpected Nay! A Yea we'd hoped wouldn't be there.
Moments of elation and dissappointment as we tallied the pluses and minuses in our heads - but all the votes were in long before they finished the roll call, and they flashed the numbers up on the screen.
The amendment got 45 votes.
It was dead dead dead!
I whispered "we won" to the people sitting next to me, about 2 seconds before the room collectively realized it and erupted, and the cheering and jumping didn't even fade a bit for many minutes.
People gathered again on the grand staircase, and then in front of the State House where the morning demonstrations had been, for speeches and thank-yous. Some more songs led by MassEquality as we waited for the legislators to come out: Sal DiMasi, Ed Augustus, Ellen Story, Liz Malia, Carl Sciortino, Jamie Eldridge, Byron Rushing, Denise Provost, Rachel Kaprelian, Mike Festa... partway through, Deval Patrick worked his way through the crowd and gave a short yet perfect speech.
... so, I finally got my photos from that day cropped, resized, and posted. See the rest.