As statewide LGBT organizations go, it’s hard to match MassEquality’s storied reputation. Marriage equality in Massachusetts was born of the judiciary ten years ago this month, but in its infancy, MassEquality reared it in a toxic anti-equality national political environment amid efforts at home to amend our state constitution to deny lesbian and gay folks the right to marry. MassEquality spearheaded an effective grassroots campaign apparatus aimed at protecting elected officials and candidates who stood with us and defeating those who did not. The political air cover MassEquality and other LGBT groups provided allowed pro-equality lawmakers to stand up to the conservative coalition bent on stuffing out the early flames of marriage equality.
Fifty years ago this month, on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, Lem Billings had just returned from lunch when he heard the news. He was an advertising executive at Lennen and Newell in New York and as he approached his office building at 380 Madison Avenue, Billings saw immediately that something was wrong. Waves of people rolled out of the building onto the street, some looked confused, others wept. According to David Pitts, author of Jack and Lem: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship, a face in the crowd approached Billings and said, “I’m so sorry about the president.”
For the first time in years, a troop of Boston mayoral candidates sift city neighborhoods for votes. At T stops and in coffee shops candidates reach for every hand, seeking just enough votes to lift them into the final when the bulky field shrinks to a two-person runoff. It’s hard work. After so many years with the same mayor, Bostonians are not used to choosing from such a large field. For the longest time, it was either the Mayor or the fly in the ointment. And the mayor won, no problem.