Beside a wooden podium draped in a rainbow flag at the Old South Church, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Pastor Judy Hanlon, an advocate for asylum seekers, were given the church's Open Door award Saturday in recognition of their work on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
The award ceremony in Copley Square came in the middle of a joyous Pride Morning Worship, filled with jokes comparing GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump to the wicked Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus and alterations to traditional hymns to include calls for gender-neutral bathrooms.
"I have kind of what you might call a huge crush on you," the Rev. Anthony Livolsi told the women, "in the way you two go toe-to-toe with evil, the way you square off against injustice." Warren hugged him as he returned to his seat, while Hanlon, who is co-founder of the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, laughed.
Warren, who was greeted by worshippers with cheers, standing applause, and a waving feather headdress, called on them to mobilize against hate, especially as espoused by Trump.
"This is a day of celebration. I have my boa in the car, I am raring to march in the parade. But there are big fights to come," Warren said. "There is a man who hopes to be the leader of this great nation and he hopes to get there by hating others…The only way we beat bullies is we stand up and fight back."
Hanlon, whose task force provides resources and support for LGBTQ people fleeing persecution in their home countries, denounced the "American apathy" that she says enables such human rights violations. She related horror stories from asylum seekers she has met who have since rebuilt their lives in Massachusetts.
"To date we have helped over 130 asylum seekers from 16 countries," Hanlon told the worshippers. "Today this door will burst open, and you will stream out into the highways and byways to parade. Will you, as you are marching, remember these stories and these faces?"
Vivian Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.