Category Archives: Arlington Town Meeting

LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission Established

Wednesday night, Arlington Town Meeting voted 189-12-3 to establish a LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission.  Dan Dunn has a brief report of the debate, because the debate was brief. No big deal.

One of my first votes in Town Meeting was to establish our Human Rights Commission. Back in 1993 this was a contentious vote, with lots of ugliness entwined in hours of rhetoric. Opponents tried to gut the commission by offering an amendment to remove its subpoena powers. On the other side, proponents described several instances of some very ugly hate incidents that a Human Rights Commission could address.

I remember chatting with a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 1, who had a LGBTQ son at Arlington High School, and his son was being bullied mercilessly. It was both heartbreaking and difficult to listen to what was happening, and I was seriously wondering if I made a serious mistake when I moved to Arlington.

The commission was approved, and the subpoena powers remained intact. I stayed in Arlington, and I stayed in Town Meeting.

Fast forward to 2017. About a month ago, I was sitting on the bench at Za, waiting for my Friday night takeout, chatting with a couple waiting for a table. The weather was unusually cold and nasty for a late March evening. I was asked if I could live anywhere, where would I live. I thought for a few seconds, thought about places with better weather, and came back home. “Arlington, Massachusetts,” I replied.

This evening, I was speaking to a continuing education class, when I was asked about the significant changes to Arlington that made the town the place it is today. I went down my usual list. I talked about our move away from being a dry (moist, or humid) town and the restaurants that arrived when they could get liquor licenses. I talked about the rebuilding of our elementary schools and the Boston Globe declaration that the Brackett School was the best in the state. I mentioned the Bay Windows article that declared Arlington to be lesbian-friendly.

Here’s where I got a bunch of blank stares, and I couldn’t quite articulate why the Bay Windows article was so important. Folks who lived in Arlington in the 1990s understand what I am saying, but the view from 2017 is very different. Even the view from 2004, when marriage equality became the law, was very different. Arlington was toward the top of the list of communities issuing licenses on the first possible day. Why would the Bay Windows article matter?

What I didn’t say explicitly was that Bay Windows wrote the first article declaring Arlington as a welcoming community. In a town that had a reputation for being closed and insular, had a reputation for killing the Red Line extension to prevent “those people” from riding the train into town, this one article was transformative.

Folks who moved to Arlington based on the article, and our changing reputation, added to our diversity; new residents embraced this welcoming spirit, and Arlington’s reputation as a great place to live blossomed. Welcoming became the norm (though not truly universal) to the point where our 189-12-3 vote to establish a LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission is unremarkable.

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Town Meeting Scorecard 2015

Article Title Action Recorded Vote Date
1 Annual Town Election Voted 2697 cards cast 28-Mar
2 State of the Town Received 27-Apr
3 Reports of Committees Received 11-May
4 Measurer of Wood & Bark Voted Voice Vote 27-Apr
5 Assistant Town Moderator Voted Voice Vote 27-Apr
6 Documented Zoning Reviews No Action 147-45-6 27-Apr
7 Posted Event Notices Voted 171-35-1 4-May
8 Limiting Speaking Time Voted 104-95-6 27-Apr
9 Human Rights Commission No Action Voice Vote 27-Apr
10 Mount Gilboa Historic Voted Unanimous 27-Apr
11 Community Preservation Committee Voted 159-48-2 29-Apr
12 Revision of 2020 Committee Voted 178-2-7 4-May
13 Disposition of 1207 Mass. Ave. Voted 184-11-0 4-May
14 Disposition of 13-383 Cliffe Ave. No Action Voice Vote 4-May
15 Home Rule – Assessor Change Voted 116-76-2 4-May
16 Complete Streets Voted 157-33-0 4-May
17 Local Option Taxes No Action Voice Vote 6-May
18 Endorsement of CDBG Voted 190-14-2 6-May
19 Revolving Finds Voted 199-4-2 6-May
20 Collective Bargaining Voted Unanimous 11-May
21 Positions Reclassification Voted 199-0-3 6-May
22 Town Budgets Voted 192-4-1 11-May
23 Revaluation of Real Property Voted Unanimous 11-May
24 Capital Budget Voted 188-2-1 29-Apr
25 Rescind Borrowing Authority Voted 187-2-1 29-Apr
26 Financing Sewerage Voted 189-0-2 29-Apr
27 Financing Water Voted 190-1-2 29-Apr
28 Appropriation Mintueman Voted 156-16-2 4-May
29 Appropriation Committees Voted Unanimous 11-May
30 Appropriation Town Celebrations Voted Unanimous 11-May
31 Appropriation Miscelanious Voted Unanimous 11-May
32 Appropriation Public Art Voted 130-62-3 11-May
33 Appropriation Human Rights Voted 161-24-7 11-May
34 Appropriation Water Bodies Voted Unanimous 11-May
35 Appropriaiton Barber Service Voted Unanimous 11-May
36 Appropriaiton Scenic Byway Voted Voice Vote 11-May
37 Appropriation Pension Adjustment Voted Unanimous 11-May
38 Appropriation OPEB Trust Fund Voted Unanimous 11-May
39 Acceptance of Survivor Benefits Voted Unanimous 11-May
40 Appropriation Long Term Stabilization Voted Unanimous 11-May
41 Appropriation Overlay Reserve Voted Unanimous 11-May
42 Transfer of Funds – Cemetery Voted Voice Vote 11-May
43 Use of Free Cash Voted Unanimous 11-May
44 Appropriation Fiscal Stability Voted Unanimous 11-May
45 Resolution – TMM Removal Voted 107-79-5 11-May
46 Resolution – Master Plan Endorsement Voted 136-41-3  11-May
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