Osama White House celebrationThe Rev. Bernard Poppe, my priest and friend, is more liberal than I am.  (Ditto for 98% of his flock at St. George’s Episcopal, in the deep blue town of Maplewood, NJ.)  So when Bernie started his sermon on Sunday by indicating he had mixed feelings about the death of Osama bin Laden, I was prepared to sit politely in silent disagreement.

But I found I had no quarrel with anything he said.

He said he was pleased at the news bin Laden had been killed — but then appalled by the tenor of the celebration in front of the White House and elsewhere.  He questioned his own motives: “I’m not supposed to rejoice  at anybody’s death.” He was unpersuaded by the notion that bin Laden had been “brought to justice,” because justice implies due process and an opportunity to mount a defense.  The celebrations made it seem more like vengeance than justice.  I hope I am accurately reflecting what he said — Father Poppe sometimes posts his sermons online, but this one was delivered without notes.

Father Poppe

I also reject the “brought to justice” formulation, although my reasons probably differ from Bernie’s.  The idea that the fight against Islamic jihadism is a war, not a law-enforcement issue, is a well-established conservative meme — I’ve written about it here, here and especially here.  Bin Laden declared war on America in 1996, but our government did not acknowledge that we were at war until that awful day in 2001.  Much of the Left still has not acknowledged it, although President Obama, to his immense credit, has.

My faith teaches me that Osama bin Laden was a child of God and a sinner — and that he shared those traits with me.  Few people in recent history have more fully earned a double-tap to the forehead, and yet hatred and the lust for vengeance are ugly emotions that lead to bad places.  It’s appropriate for a minister to remind us of these things.

But if we are not to celebrate death, and if we reject the law-enforcement model, I still believe there is reason to rejoice in the success of the Navy SEALs.  We cheer not for vengeance or justice, but for victory.  We did not start this war, and it is not over, but our side has won an enormously important battle.  I think we can celebrate in good conscience.

Preparations for Easter at St. George’s

Much thanks to Maplewood Patch editor Mary Mann for taking the visual images from St. George’s Palm Sunday observance and turning it into a spritely and thorough announcement of the upcoming Easter services.

Cranky political commentary will resume here soon.  In the meantime, may Holy Week and Easter be a time of reflection and renewal for you and yours.

(Video by Kirk Petersen, photos by the Web Goddess.)

Tom Savoth and Cheryl Notari, Wardens of St. George's

Outgoing Senior Warden Tom Savoth shares a quiet moment today before the service with his fellow Warden at St. George's Episcopal Church, Cheryl Notari. Note the aura of gravitas descending on Cheryl as she prepares to become the Senior Warden.

Nearly nine decades ago some citizens of Maplewood, New Jersey came together in a spirit of faith and community to begin planning a major new Episcopal church on a wooded hillside off of Ridgewood Road.  The parish traces its roots back to just after the Civil War, but the cornerstone for the current building was laid in 1925.

Generations of Maplewoodians have enjoyed fellowship and sanctuary in the years that followed.  The Web Goddess and I were married there in 2000, shortly after we became members, and we held our reception in the then-decrepit Parish Hall.  Ten years later we stood up in the middle of a Sunday service to renew our vows in front of God and a community that has sustained us through some very difficult times.

During that decade, the Web Goddess earned her moniker by teaching herself HTML, then building and launching the St. George’s website.  She has lovingly maintained the site ever since, through two major redesigns, while honing her skills as a photographer.  Virtually single-handedly she has built stgeorges-maplewood.org into what almost certainly is the largest website in the 108-parish Episcopal Diocese of Newark.  The website marks its 10th anniversary this month, and if there is a larger, more robust, more professional church website built strictly on a volunteer basis anywhere in the country, I want to see it.

Her online evangelism quickly led to an elected position as a member of the parish Vestry.  When she stepped down because of term limits six years later, I stepped up.  I’m now entering my fourth year as head of the Property Committee, a role that keeps me busy caring for an aging physical plant.  Along the way we’ve both become full-time, professional Episcopalians — she as Director of Communications and Technology for the Diocese of Newark, and me as Parish Administrator of Grace Episcopal Church in Madison.

Valyrie Laedlein, elected today as Junior Warden

My role as Property Poobah at St. George’s is what led to these musings, as today was our Annual Parish Meeting, a time of transition for several very dear friends.  Tom Savoth stepped down as Senior Warden after seven years of Vestry service, including four years as Warden.  Joining Cheryl Notari as Warden is the newly elected Valyrie Laedlein, and they’ll work closely with the Rev. Bernie Poppe, who is only the seventh Rector in the church’s 106 years as a full-fledged parish of the Diocese of Newark.  The Rector and Wardens oversee a small, mostly part-time staff and a legion of volunteers, some of whom have been attending services there for five decades or more. St. George’s is fortunate to have leaders of the quality of Bernie, Cheryl, Valyrie and Tom, and the Web Goddess and I are blessed to be able to call them friends.

The Rev. Bernie Poppe, Rector of St. George's

Our beautiful building is feeling its age, and I had the dubious honor today of telling the parish that I’ve spent $13,000 of their pledge money in the past five weeks making emergency repairs to the heating system.  We’re not done — fortunately the temperature outside is in the 50s today, because while the church itself was overheated, there was no heat in the Parish Hall.

The meeting marked the start of a parish-wide conversation about the heating system that will continue for many months, and much work will be done by many people.  There’s time enough for that, and time for this blog to resume its normal fare of cranky political commentary.  But once in a while I use this forum for a more personal message.  Just for today I want to pause long enough to give thanks for a group of good Christian people in the 1920s, who looked at a wooded hillside and envisioned a church.

Photos by Kirk Petersen (with a cellphone!) and the Web Goddess.

At church today I had the privilege of reading excerpts, from the lectern, of one of the greatest speeches in American history.

I was worried that I wouldn’t make it all the way through without crying.  I have a Boehner-like tendency to dissolve in tears on solemn occasions — not just at funerals, but also at weddings and ordinations, and whenever some spoken sentiment profoundly moves me.

This is the weekend of Martin Luther King Day, and it was only 15 minutes or so before the opening hymn this morning that I learned I would be reading from Dr. King’s speech. I was intent on doing justice to the text, so I ignored the early part of the service as I sat in the pew, listening to the famous cadences march through my mind. Here is the passage that choked me up repeatedly; it’s at about the 6-minute mark in the video:

I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

A dream deeply rooted in the American dream.  Dr. King had grievances with some Americans, but a deep love for America.  Yes, I know about the dalliance with socialism, and about the anti-war activism that sometimes lapsed into anti-American rhetoric.  But Dr. King deserves to be judged on the totality of his life, and for paving a path for others to follow.

Nearly half a century later, another skilled black orator would proclaim America’s greatness even while urging Americans to do better. In eulogizing a murdered nine-year-old girl last week, President Obama said:

We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us. That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

When Dr. King gave his famous speech, Obama was just two years old — too young to share Christina’s interest in politics.  But Obama came of age in a society profoundly shaped by Dr. King’s legacy — so profoundly that a daughter of a slave lived long enough to vote for the first black president.

Ulysses Grant Dietz

I made it through my reading of Dr. King’s speech this morning, then returned to my pew to listen to a moving sermon by parishioner Ulysses Grant Dietz, the great-great-grandson of the general who won the war that freed the slaves.

Ulysses talked about “the bubble of integration and acceptance of diversity” that we enjoy in Maplewood, NJ.

My children, who are not white, have never been taunted because of their skin color, nor because they are adopted, nor because they have two fathers, nor because one of their fathers is Jewish.  They have black friends, and Asian friends, and white friends, and even gay friends—all of which would have been unimaginable in the Syracuse of my childhood.

The road to civil rights paved by MLK Jr. is not complete. The legal instruments of justice and equal civil rights for all Americans are largely in place—with some glaring exceptions. Living into those legal facts, however, is still, as we all know too well, a work in progress.  But we are on that road, and together we are moving forward.

America is not perfect, but it is exceptional.  Dr. King helped make it a better place through his leadership, his eloquence and his sacrifice.  Happy Martin Luther King Day.

Big cyber-news today in Maplewood, NJ, the place one blogger once called “the center of the blogging universe.” The New York Times abruptly shuttered The Local, its New Jersey experiment in hyperlocal blogging.  I’ve chronicled the Maplewood BlogolopolisTM here, here, here and here.

Instead of just shutting down, the NYT is passing its baton to Baristanet, a venerable (since 2004) hyperlocal news site for other parts of Essex County.  Baristanet has launched new homepages for Maplewood, South Orange and Millburn, the three towns covered by The Local.

Timestamps on their respective articles indicate that Mary Mann at Maplewood Patch broke the story a full 13 minutes before the NYT posted its own announcement on The Local.  Congrats, Mary!  (Of course, I could make my timestamp read whatever I want it to read, but Mary wouldn’t do that.)  The first cryptic comment on Maplewood Online was even earlier.  And the Maplewoodian weighed in a bit later in the afternoon.

After the Web Goddess alerted me to the news via IM, I promptly lurched into action.  Stealing a few minutes away from my day job (forgive me, Mother Lauren), I promptly posted a self-serving comment on The Local’s announcement, thereby creating a small flurry of traffic to my previous coverage.  Then I worked the rest of the afternoon.  Then I came home and watered the lawn and borrowed my neighbor’s spreader to put down some Scotts® Turf Builder® With PLUS 2® Weed Control (no, this is not a paid plug… but Scotts, have your people call my people).

Eventually I connected with Mary Mann, hoping I could get some snarky, back-biting comments, but it was not to be.  “I’m very sorry to see The Local go,” she said.  (At least I think that’s what she said — we had terrible reception, despite trying four connections on different cell and land-line combinations.  I blame the Rooskie spies in Montclair for sabotaging the phones.)

So how about these Barista newcomers?  “Jolie Solomon is wonderful — very talented,” Mary said.  (Solomon is the former Patch contributor who will be anchoring Baristanet’s Maplewood coverage.)  “I’ve always thought there was enough room for everyone” in the Maplewood hyperlocal scene.

Such a nice lady.  (Disclosure: she sometimes publishes my stuff.)

Honest Labor: From Mach 2 to Muenster to Madison

(Welcome, Maplewood Patch readers, and thanks to Mary Mann for the kind words.)

A summer evening in 1995: My boss’s boss, a Merrill Lynch executive who has never called me at home, calls me at home.  His opening line still ranks in my mind as one of the most interesting possible ways to start a business conversation:  “Kirk, do you have a passport?”

It turns out I do.  “OK, pack a bag, you’re getting on the Concorde to London in the morning.  We’re buying a British firm, and you’re going to write the script for the press conference.”

A September morning in 2009: The manager of the local supermarket flips through my application, which discloses work experience and a salary history he’s not used to seeing.  Plus there’s the whole Princeton thing.

He says, “all I have to offer is a job in the deli. Are you sure about this?”

It’s an excellent question, and the answer isn’t obvious, even to me.  But I manage to convince both of us.

The Concorde was surprisingly cramped inside. The main thing that distinguished the experience from a puddle-jumping commuter plane was the digital display at the front of the cabin, which indicated we topped out at Mach 2 (over 1,300 mph) and 60,000 feet.

I had been told to pack for three days, but I ended up staying for 10.  Those were flush times on Wall Street, and Merrill’s executives and support Gumbys alike were all housed at The Dorchester, widely considered one of the world’s finest hotels.  (I suppose it is — they certainly kept up with my laundry needs.)

The target company was called Smith New Court.  Late one night, at a crucial juncture of the negotiations, it became necessary to briefly evict the Smith New Court personnel from the giant Dorchester suite where the talks were being held, so the Merrill team could confer by speaker phone with other executives in New York.  The Smithies needed a place to cool their heels, and the hotel’s business center was closed.

I was in my single room down the hall, casually dressed and thinking about bed, when there came a knock at my door.  Suddenly a wave of bespoke-suited Brits came flooding into the room, including the top two executives of Smith New Court, herded by a junior member of the Merrill team.

Padding around in my bare feet, I served sodas and spring water from the minibar and tried to make everyone at home.  Nervous laughter and small talk ensued for half an hour or so.  Then the negotiations resumed, and a billion-dollar deal was struck.

There were more trips to London that summer, and over the next dozen years, various employers and clients sent me to Tokyo, Cologne, Shanghai and Cleveland.  (I was able to squeeze in an Indians game — Jacobs Field is as nice as they say it is.)

I was the speechwriter for a CEO, I edited internal websites for two huge companies, I prepped executives for Congressional testimony, I helped clients spin bankruptcies, regulatory issues and involuntary CEO transitions.  I developed a taste for custom shirts, car service and single-malt whiskey.

For a job that pays $10 an hour, the deli counter gig wasn’t bad.  Probably the worst part was having to stand on my aging feet throughout a six-hour shift, except for a 15-minute break.  That, and cleaning the goo off the cheese slicer at closing time.

I generally enjoyed waiting on customers, most of whom responded well to a cheerful smile.  I learned that even though customers usually want their roast beef “sliced thin,” you have to set the slicer thicker than for turkey.  I discovered that low-sodium ham isn’t bad, but low-fat cheese tastes like glue.  Management wanted us to up-sell, so I said “would you like some salad with that?” and flattered myself that I was honing my marketing skills.  At one time or another, at least three fellow employees asked some variation of “how old are you, anyway?”

I had started my own consulting business in 2007, and I did pretty well for a while.  Then I did OK for a while.  Then the economy imploded, and after having virtually no income for a year, it had become clear that my entrepreneurial experiment was, at the very least, ill-timed.

I applied for dozens of full-time communications jobs while I was trying to drum up clients, and it was hard to decide which was more depressing — forcing myself to network with people who weren’t going to do business with me, or crafting thoughtful cover letters to hiring managers who weren’t going to interview me.  The guilty knowledge that I “should be doing more” repeatedly collided with the paralyzing reality that nothing in particular had to be done today.

At 51 (which is not old, dammit!), I’ve learned some hard things about the job market.  It turns out that if the job description calls for “8-10 years of experience” in a role, that’s not really a minimum — it’s more like a maximum.

It turns out that “overqualified” is code for “too old.”  (I’ve promised myself that the next time a potential employer tells me I’m overqualified, I’m going to offer to work below my full capacity.)

I kind of dared myself into applying for the supermarket job.  While commiserating with another idle consultant about the work we did back in the day, I heard myself saying, “at this point, I can’t imagine turning down any job at any salary.”

The instant I said it, I started wondering whether I really meant it.  When I saw the words “Now hiring!” on my supermarket receipt, it was time to put up or shut up.

The supermarket manager, naturally, said I was overqualified.  If the line had come to me in time, I would have said “I’ve never worked retail before — maybe I’m underqualified.”  The manager looked to be about my age, maybe he felt some kinship.  For whatever reason, he gave me a shot.

As it turned out, I was only there three months.  My new gig is a step up in both status and pay.  On January 4 I became the parish administrator of Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, NJ.  I’m now responsible for producing four weekly service bulletins and running the busy office at one of the largest Episcopal churches in North Jersey.

I got the position the old-fashioned way — through family connections.  Up until a few months ago, it had been the Web Goddess’s job for five years.

My beloved left Grace Church after she parlayed her years of self-taught website work and her knowledge of all things Episcopal into a newly created job, as Director of Communications and Technology for the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which includes 108 parishes in northern New Jersey.  She has quickly started raising the profile of the diocese by redesigning a weekly newsletter and leveraging social media, while supporting the bishop’s communications activities.  It’s her first professional venture into the arena where I’ve played for 30 years, and she’s a natural talent.

So, let’s review: My wife landed a job in my field when I couldn’t.  Now I have the admin job she held before her promotion.  How’s the ol’ ego holding up, Kirk?

Well, negotiations with my ego are continuing.  Ironically, each recent improvement in my income has brought fresh challenges for my self esteem.

For most of 2009 I was entirely supported by my wife’s income and savings.  By any objective measure, a part-time supermarket job was a step up from unemployment, and I made a conscious choice to take pride in my work.  But it took a while to get used to being spotted by friends in my white coat and funny hat.  The Web Goddess aptly called it a “survival job,” and I used that term as protective cover.

The full-time church job feels more like a career transition.  It also feels like an abandonment of the conceit that I’m a primary bread-winner who belongs in a globe-trotting world.  I’m not sure I would have been open to taking the job if I had not just spent three months slicing cheese and cleaning up.

It helps — a lot — that I like the people I’m working with, and I care about the organization.  For more than a decade the Web Goddess and I have found fulfillment and a powerful sense of community at our home parish of St. George’s Episcopal, and Grace is a similar environment in many ways.  I see and feel the spiritual nourishment that Grace provides to its parishioners, and I feel privileged to have an opportunity to help.

I don’t expect I’ll be there until retirement, but the priest who is now my boss asked, quite reasonably, for a one-year commitment, so I’m not looking for jobs in 2010.  (Part-time projects in my off hours are another matter… let me know if I can help your business or organization meet your communications needs.)

Long ago I learned that job satisfaction does not primarily depend on how much money you make, or the type of work you do, or the prestige of the organization you serve.  In 12 years at Merrill Lynch I played several different roles while my income steadily grew, and I went through cycles of being both energized and miserable.

No, the most important factor in job satisfaction is whether you get along with your immediate boss.  It’s still early days at Grace, but I’m liking my chances, working for a woman of the cloth.  (In the words of the prominent Episcopal theologian Robin Williams, “Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.”)

In addition to a paycheck, my new job provides support for my spiritual infrastructure.  It helps me focus on living one day at a time, and on being grateful for all the blessings in my life.

And I am richly blessed.  I’m safe, and healthy, and in love with my wife.  I’m a United States citizen, having won that lottery the day I was born. I have a fixed-rate mortgage, and positive equity in a comfortable house in a nice town.  Around the world, billions of people would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

The job gives me a reason to get out the door in the morning, and I look forward to arriving at the office.  I’m doing real work that needs to be done, and I stretch myself to meet deadlines. People are counting on me, and I get recognized when I do good work.

If things get hectic, across the hall from the office is a … sanctuary … where I can seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God.  Staff meetings end with the words “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

I may never again make the kind of money I made a few short years ago, but I won’t have that kind of pressure, either.  Not that it’s a slow-paced job — there are more than 1,000 parishioners, four Sunday bulletins in two different liturgies, a Eucharist or prayer service every day of the year, multiple tenants in a large physical plant, an office that buzzes with activity.  The Web Goddess set a high standard of efficiency and excellence, and all the details seem overwhelming sometimes.

But it’s not the corporate world.  After letting a detail slip one day, I told the Rector I was used to an environment where I’d be crucified for a minor transgression like that.  She replied, “we think one crucifixion was enough — we focus more on redemption.”

Amen.

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Today’s NJ Gay Marriage Vote Hurts Real People

William and Michael.  Sharon and Cheryl.  Chris and Chris.  Kevin and Bill.  John and Billy.  Ulysses and Gary.  Elaine and Lauren.

These are not pseudonyms or hypotheticals — they are actual gay and lesbian couples in my life, people I cherish, good Christians in long-term committed relationships, some of them for 30 years and more.  Today the New Jersey Senate spat on their relationships, and I am pissed.

The Web Goddess and I voted for different candidates, but on this issue we are united, standing proudly to the left of our President.  We’re confident that our marriage will not be damaged if our friends are allowed to marry as well.  The idea is so bizarre that I should not have to type those words, but there they are.

Same-sex marriage is a straightforward civil rights issue, and the only acceptable outcome is full marriage equality.  I believe I’ll see it in my lifetime.  But New Jersey took a step in the wrong direction today, and I weep for my friends.

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Dennis and Christine Wiley, Baptist preachers in DC who support marriage equality

Dennis and Christine Wiley, Baptist preachers in DC who support marriage equality

Not long after the Presidential election last year, the Web Goddess and I had dinner with four of our closest friends, who happen to be a black couple and a lesbian couple.  There was exactly one McCain voter in the room — which turns out to reflect almost precisely the voting results in our hometown of Maplewood, NJ.  (I would have guessed it had been even more lopsided.)

I don’t think of these friends primarily in demographic terms — we’re three couples who met through our local Episcopal church and found we enjoyed each other’s company.  But of course, race was a common conversation topic in those post-election days.  Sexual orientation also claimed some attention through California’s successful Proposition 8, which overruled the state Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage in that state.  On this issue, we all knew the vote at our dinner table would be 6-0 the other way.

Obama’s ground-breaking candidacy had inspired a huge increase in black voters around the country — and it was being reported that his coattails may have had an adverse effect on gay people in California, as about 70 percent of black California voters had voted to ban gay marriage.  (Later analysis asserted that 58 percent was a more realistic number — still well above the 49 percent of whites who voted similarly.)

One of our friends, who wants nothing more than to marry, in New Jersey, the woman she has been committed to for more than a decade, brought up this awkward confluence of race and orientation.  Her voice trailed off as she looked inquiringly at our black friends, and we all watched the husband shake his head helplessly.  “There’s a lot of homophobia in the black community,” he said softly.

These memories were stirred today by the publication today of an op-ed in the Washington Post about the D.C. Council’s vote this week to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital.  The headline that caught my eye was “Why Two Black D.C. Pastors Support Gay Marriage.”  It turns out they’re not just black — they’re Baptists, and leaders of “the first and only traditional black church in the District of Columbia to perform same-sex unions [non-marital commitment ceremonies].”

Christine and Dennis Wiley write that “our first-hand experience has convinced us that homophobia within the black church and the wider community is real,” and they thoughtfully discuss what they see as the historical reasons for this.

A more complicated element of black homophobia is the lingering influence of sexual stereotypes that originated during slavery. According to theologian Kelly Brown Douglas, the myth of “over-sexualized” black bodies portrayed black men as violent “bucks” who posed an ever-present threat to white women, and black women as “Jezebels” who seduced white men.

These stereotypes served to justify the whipping, lynching and castration of black men, and to excuse the sexual violation of black women by white men. They were just one element of what blacks had to struggle against to gain acceptance and respectability in white society, especially during the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th. On this matter, religion has often been a vehicle of suppression, accommodation and control. While the church was a refuge from the horrors of racism and played an empowering role in African American history, it also taught black people to repress behaviors — especially sexual behaviors — that might attract unwanted attention, appear uncouth or seem threatening to white people.

A final piece that shapes black attitudes toward same-sex marriage is the preoccupation with racism in the black community. This obsession, although justifiable, has led to a failure to appreciate how racism is inextricably connected to all other forms of oppression. Those who fail to see this connection may resent the comparison of gay rights with civil rights. But as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

gaypridemarchT-blue copyKing also said, “the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  I firmly believe that same-sex marriage is a straightforward civil rights issue.  There’s only one acceptable outcome — and I believe I will live to see full marriage equality in this country.

Even in the socially liberal Episcopal church, the topic of gay equality has been controversial.  (Nationally, at least — in Maplewood, not so much.)  I marvel at the courage of these two black Baptist preachers, and I wish them Godspeed.

Dell copyFor more than 20 years my church, St. George’s Episcopal in Maplewood, has been a part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, which provides temporary shelter for homeless families.

Last week I had a chance to meet and talk with some of our IHN guests, including Dell Akinkunle and her children, David and Anointing.  The resulting article has been posted on Maplewood Patch.

Witnessing a Step Toward Marriage Equality in NJ

kirk-nina trenton lobbying copyThe Web Goddess and I journeyed to Trenton yesterday in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples.  (The picture makes me look fatter than I am.)

Pictured in the background is our priest, Father Bernie Poppe.  A Senate committee approved the bill, which is to be voted on by the full Senate on Thursday.

My account of yesterday’s events is at Maplewood Patch.  My previous blog post on this matter has touched off a lively debate in the comments.

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