In This Present Life(A)
Trillium Asset Management threw a surprise shower for two couples, four women, on May 17, 2004. There was the requisite white cake and two bouquets of beautiful roses, confetti and streamers. One of our employee partners was able to take time off to share the moment, and she was a little teary. By the time we had finished examining the bright orange licenses and posed for pictures, the rest of us were also choked up. One of the couples had already been together for 16 years – the other for an eye-popping 29 years. Yet, for the couple with almost three decades together, there was strong and clear love between them as they clutched the little piece of paper that legitimatized their commitment. A few weeks later, we were able to crowd around a monitor and view the wedding of the other couple as they were married by their minister, and once again the tears flowed.
On the same day, our friends Hillary and Julie Goodridge were married in Boston. Their marriage was one of the first for Massachusetts after gay marriage was declared constitutional. It was their court challenge, led by attorney Mary Bonauto, that was responsible for the landmark ruling.
Just a few weeks later on November 2, 2004 – the Presidential election – eleven states passed bans on gay marriage, eight of which threaten civil unions between heterosexual couples as well. Living in an era when few blink at thousands of innocent people killed in war in Iraq while our military budget escalates, when there are over 940,000 incidences of abuse per year in this country, or when over 1/3 of the women in this country report having been abused by a husband or boyfriend at some time in their lives, it is astounding to me that people can be afraid of something that in my experience is nothing but private love and fairness. As Hillary’s and Julie’s daughter, Annie, said, “(not allowing marriage) is like saying only people with yellow hair and blue eyes can go to the bathroom or something.”
At their annual meeting on November 3, the day after the election, Wainwright Bank awarded attorney Mary Bonauto and her employer, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) their 16th annual Wainwright Bank Social Justice Award. “Mary Bonauto’s quest to provide these couples with the legal protection and security that accompanies a civil marriage is simply, when all is said and done, a recognition of our common humanity,” said Bob Glassman, Co-chairman of Wainwright Bank. Plaintiffs Hillary and Julie Goodridge, and their daughter Annie, assisted Mr. Glassman in presenting the award. A smiling Annie handed Mary Bonauto a huge bouquet of flowers- I found myself wiping my eyes again.
Two days after the election, Trillium Asset Management’s employees from our four branches attended an all-company retreat. New employees were introduced, skits were performed, awards were given, and Power Point use hit new highs as we were informed about new compliance rules, the strategic plan and how to service clients faster and better. A picture of the employees in attendance is on the Trillium Asset Management web site. We helped each other digest the election, and renewed our resolve to continue to fight for justice for all, peace and a healthy environment. Our toasts were made with those ever-present, bittersweet tears.
The partner of one of our employees (one of the women honored at the shower) sent us this poem. It says it all.
In This Present Life (original song lyrics by Jennifer Love Hewitt )Though my marrying you has caused this big divide,Doubters will have to come to see, we’ll no longer hide.It’s got nothing to do with them, it’s just who we are inside.In another life, in another placeI might have to hide, never know your grace.In another world, in another time,Could you be mine?So we’ll keep fighting to have our marriage recognized,Though power they seem to have right now, our union criticized.We won’t be invisible; we won’t travel back in time.In this present life, in this present place,I refuse to hide, because I know your grace.In this present world, in this present time,Will you be mine?In this present life, in this present placeI’ve heard wedding bells, this is truly graceIn this present world, in this present time,You are mine!