Earlier this evening I joined with a number of other members of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN to distribute "I support marriage equality" stickers to attendees at this weekend's Basilica of St. Mary Block Party.
It was a great experience, with the vast majority of those arriving at the Basilica for the event expressing support and gratitude for our presence, and being more than willing to wear one of our stickers.
We distributed two-and-a-half thousand stickers, and will be back tomorrow evening with more!
At around 7:00 p.m., a member of singer/songwriter Michael Franti's entourage approached us and invited my friend Joan and I to meet Michael and be interviewed by him in his tour bus for his website. Earlier in the evening I was interviewed by the Twin Cities' Fox 9 News.
All in all, in was a very positive and productive evening, with our marriage equality message at the Basilica being widely welcomed and supported.
Following is the media release that Catholics for Marriage Equality MN disseminated earlier today. It explains why we are present at this weekend's Basilica Block Party .
Pro-marriage equality Catholics
to welcome Basilica Block Party attendees
Pro-marriage equality Catholics
to welcome Basilica Block Party attendees
Members and friends of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN will be at the entrance of the Basilica of St. Mary’s Block Party on both Friday and Saturday evenings (5:00-9:00) of this weekend, distributing "I support marriage equality" stickers to attendees.
The group also plans to display signs with messages such as: "Let's rock for marriage equality" and "Let's party as if we already have marriage equality."
“As pro-marriage equality Catholics we'll welcome attendees and invite them to help turn the block party into a pro-marriage equality event,” said Catholics for Marriage Equality MN co-convener Michael Bayly. “We’ve heard that a number of performers have already said they'll be speaking out for marriage equality from the stage – which is truly good news.”
One such performer is Michael Franti who released a statement on his website saying: “I feel that I can best make a difference by living up to my commitment to perform and to use my music and the stage that I have been given to speak out in support of same sex marriage. I encourage all in attendance (and those who are not) to get out and vote against the anti-gay marriage amendment.”
According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage and other gay rights than other American Christians, yet the Minnesota Catholic Conference of Bishops is spending millions of dollars in support of the upcoming ballot measure that could potentially amend the State Constitution to ban civil marriage for same-sex couples – despite the fact that same-sex marriage is already illegal in the state.
Earlier, there had been calls to boycott the Basilica Block Party because of the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality activism of the bishops.
“This didn’t seem to us to be the best course of action,” said Bayly. “We know that many members of the Basilica community support marriage equality – as do the vast majority of the young people who will be attending the block party. So we decided to ask them to help make the party a pro-marriage equality event. And I think that’s what it will be.”
Below are some photos I took earlier this evening at the Basilica Block Party. Enjoy!
Above: My friend Paula conversing with Block Party attendees.
Above: Friends Obie and Javen came for the party but also spent time helping distribute stickers. Thanks, guys!
Above: Basilica party-goers happy to display their "I support marriage equality" stickers!
Notes the Star Tribune in its coverage of the Block Party:
Boasting a cooler-than-average lineup, the 17th annual rock 'n' roll 'n' beer bash outside the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis suffered hellfire heat at first. The 25-page program has never been more useful than as fans during early sets by hot newcomers Lissie and Fitz & The Tantrums.
"I never take off my jacket," Fitz & The Tantrums' stylish frontman Michael Fitzpatrick said on stage, "but Minneapolis, you just broke me."
Things were also more heated than usual outside the gates. A small contingent of gay rights supporters handed out stickers and carried signs to protest the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. [Actually, none of our signs were "protest" signs.]
"Let's party as if we already have marriage equality," read one of the signs belonging to Catholics for Marriage Equality, whose stickers ("I support marriage equality") were plastered all over concertgoers. Co-founder Michael Bayly said his group did not want to discourage people from attending. "We want people to feel welcome and know that there are many, many Catholics who believe in equality," Bayly said . . .
Above: Brian McNeill of Dignity Twin Cities helps distribute pro-marriage equality stickers to attendees of the Basilica of St. Mary Block Party.
Above and below: Supporters of marriage equality at this weekend's Basilica Block Party.
Our hope was that if enough folks were wearing our "I support marriage equality" stickers, a supportive "buzz" about the issue would be created. From everything I've heard, that indeed happened.
For instance, not long after we started distributing stickers, people started coming up to us and requesting them. Others asked us to pass sheets of them through the fence so that attendees already inside could get one. Also, we soon noticed that many of the Block Party staff were wearing them.
Above: With my friend Joan and Basilica Block Party headliner Michael Franti.
Michael Franti is an American poet, musician, and composer. He is the creator and lead vocalist of Michael Franti & Spearhead, a band that blends hip hop with a variety of other styles including funk, reggae, jazz, folk, and rock. He is also an outspoken supporter for a wide spectrum of peace and social justice issues.
Strange as it may sound, one of the first things I did upon meeting Michael in his tour bus was to check if he was wearing shoes! He wasn't, and here's why:
In 2000, Franti decided not to wear any shoes, initially for three days. Since then, Franti has been walking through life barefoot except for occasionally wearing flip-flops as required to board an airplane or to be served in a restaurant. Franti prefers to go barefoot.
As noted in our media release, Michael Franti is an outspoken supporter of marriage equality. Accordingly, he was keen to meet some of us present at the Block Party sharing a pro-marriage equality message. I must say it was an honor to meet him and be interviewed by him for a segment to be featured on his website.
Later, Michael met with members of OutFront Minnesota and pledged his support to them. Other artists who performed tonight at the Block Party also voiced support for marriage equality, with local band The Jayhawks dedicating a new song, "Hide Your Colors," to "free choice in marriage." According to the Star Tribune, Illinois songstress Lissie drew cheers when she said, "It's really not anyone's business how people choose to love one another. Love is always a good thing."
UPDATE: 11:00 p.m., Saturday, July 9, 2011
Earlier this evening members of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN had another enjoyable and encouraging experience distributing "I support marriage equality" stickers to Basilica Block Party attendees.
Many attendees had either been there the night before or had heard about us as they actively sought us out for stickers! As I said, it was very encouraging – as was the fact that this particular event is very much a straight event, and yet the responses we received were overwhelmingly supportive of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Following are some more images of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's presence at the Basilica of St. Mary Block Party this evening. Enjoy!
Above: My friend Kathleen with a clipboard full of stickers!
Above: This guy wanted to show his support for marriage equality in both front and back!
Above and below: Sticker, anyone?
Above: These guys and girls were more than happy to show their support for marriage equality.
Above: The guy on the left watched Fox 9 News last night and made a point of coming up to me today to congratulate and thank me for what I said in the broadcast's segment on Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's presence yesterday at the Block Party. He and his friend are straight and totally supportive of both marriage equality and our proactive and positive presence at the Basilica. Gotta love those straight guy allies!
Above: I love this photo! And my friend Paula later shared with me that the sight of this family and others wearing our stickers filled her with hope for the future.
Above: These guy were visiting the Twin Cities from the Navajo Nation.
Above and below: More Basilica Block Party attendees happy to show their support for marriage equality.
See also the related Wild Reed posts:
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds
A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
At UST, a Rousing and Very Catholic Show of Support for Marriage Equality
A Message for NOM (and the Catholic Hierarchy
Distinguishing Between Roman Catholic Theology and Civil Law in the Struggle for Marriage Equality
The Bishops' Reaction to Marriage Equality: "Wrong-Headed and Counterproductive"
Responding to Bishop Tobin's Remarks on Gay Marriage
Dale Carpenter on the "Win-Win" Reality of Gay Marriage
The Minnesota Bishops' Last Ditch Effort
It's a Scandal
The Minnesota Bishops' Unholy War
Exposing NOM's Shameful Behavior in Minnesota
Winona Daily News Calls Proposed Marriage Amendment "Bigoted" and "Malicious"
Law Professor: Marriage Amendment is Divisive and Mean-Spirited
Opposition to the Marriage Amendment Grows
Images: Michael J. Bayly.