On October 20th, 1989, Baltimore Gaypaper covered a rally for Gay Rights at the Massachusetts State House, lead by the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights. I worked with the Coalition in 1993 on the passage of the Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Law.
More from “Mass. activists rally at capitol for statewide gay rights legislation” in Baltimore Gay Paper:
Boston, MA – Over 2,000 people showed up for a Gay Rights Rally at the Massachusetts State House on October 3 when the Coalition 3 when the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights brought together organization and individuals for a record breaking display of community strength.
The Rally and Lobby Day was timed to coincide with the resumption of debate on the Gay Civil Rights Bill in the State Senate. David LaFontaine, Lobbying Director for the Coalition, expressed the purpose of the Rally by saying, “We are gathered here because we share a dream – the dream of passing a Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights Bill in Massachusetts.”
Francis Bellotti, former Attorney General and current gubernatorial candidate, opened the Rally with the statement, “This bill is so fundamental to equality for all human beings that everybody should support it. It is the duty of every public official to oppose discrimination and prejudice in any form, and that’s what this bill does.”
Senator Michael Barrett, chief Senate sponsor of the bill continued in the same vein, “This bill is about people about real suffering, about real risk to human beings, about trying to avoid that risk in the future.”
The October 3 Rally had a dramatic and very visible impact on the gay rights issue,” according to Dick Cauchi of CPPAX (Citizens for Participation in Political Action), a progressive grass roots organization. “More than 2000 people standing up and joining elected officials gave a dramatic reminder to others that this issue has broad support and those working for its passage will keep up the pressure until the bill is signed into law.”
Lesbian and gay activists are encouraged by the progress of the bill through the Senate this week. On Monday, October 2, Senate President William Bulger ruled that no new amendments would be accepted after 5pm that day. These amendments are almost always hostile and are used to delay progress of the bill. Although ten amendments were proposed, debate is now essentially limited to those ten amendments.
Also on Monday, a hostile motion to table the bill, causing further delays was defeated by a vote 24-9, although three supporters were not present. The first of the ten amendments limits the scope of the bill by excluding school teachers who “promote” homosexuality in the classroom. On October 4, this amendment was defeated by a vote of 22-12.
Passage of a gay civil rights bill would be a national milestone. Only one other state has enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation protecting lesbians and gay men. Massachusetts activists hope that the precedent set here will spur passage of similar laws throughout the nation.