Marriage celebrations at City Hall, State House

DSC04154At least three different events were planned to celebrate Marriage Equality today, the first day marriage licenses for same-sex couples were to be made available at City Halls throughout the state. Many gathered not only to celebrate greater acceptance and tolerance of same-sex couples in Rhode Island, but to counter-protest the odious and hateful Westboro Baptist Church, who kept their promise to display their colorful, insulting and soul damaging signs at locations throughout Rhode Island.

There were three times as many media present as Westboro Baptist Church protesters, which is testament to their ability to generate controversy. The trick it seems, is to ignore them, but is that really possible? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and I’m not sure.

The main objective of the pro-equality celebrations and counter-protests was to present a cheerful and positive message about love, acceptance, tolerance and equality, and that was achieved. Organizer Mikaela Vento, who hoped to avoid negativity in today’s actions commented that, “It’s not really a celebration anymore, it’s become a counter-protest. But at least people are smiling and laughing.”

Sure, some of the signs on the side of equality and love crossed the line of good taste and blasphemy, but the event(s) were entirely peaceful. This is Rhode Island, after all. We invented tolerance, and the only thing we won’t tolerate is intolerance.

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Surprise visits were made by the Pope, pirates, Xena and extra-terrestrials.

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Congratulations to Zach and Gary, the first couple to get their marriage license at Providence City Hall this morning.

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Like a star-spangled butterfly of hate

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A happy couple with wedding license in hand.

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Xena bangs a drum for love and equality.

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Equality and Atheism

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Some of the signs were very subtle.

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Some of the signs were extremely tasteful.

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The real Captain America would be on the side of love and equality.

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These guys came prepared

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and, I might add, Rhode Island.

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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

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