Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Hear Our Voices: Symposium on the Protection of the LGBTI Refugees in the US

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Hear Our Voices: Symposium on the Protection of the LGBTI Refugees in the US Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 19, 2014

The Refugee Congress LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Intersex) Caucus was established in December 2013 two years after the formation of the Refugee Congress in August, 2011. The Refugee Congress was established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees/Washington Office as part of the commemorations of the 60th Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention. The Congress provides a forum where refugees from across the United States can highlight the importance of providing protection to those who have been persecuted and to bring greater awareness to the many contributions refugees have made, and are making, in the US.

To fulfill its mission, the Refugee Congress LGBTI Caucus will organize a round table on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 from 9:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m at Human Rights Campaign located at 1640 Rhode Island Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The event will bring together refugees, government agencies, NGOs and the UN Refugee Agency to discuss ways to advance the rights and increase protection of LGBTI refugees, asylum seekers internationally and in the US. The meeting will give an opportunity to LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers to address challenges experienced in their home countries, during immigration and since restarting their lives in the US. They will share the types of programs and services that have best served their needs and will highlight recommendations for funding organizations, government agencies and NGOs to elevate LGBTI protection in the context of forced migration.

Panelists will address good practices and key barriers facing LGBTI refugees as they seek protection in countries of first asylum, during the resettlement process, and upon resettlement to the US through the US Refugee Admissions Program. They will also respond to questions relating to self-identification, organizational welcome, and indicators for effective, long term integration. They will focus on barriers faced by LGBTI asylum seekers when they arrive in the US, ringing from aspects of the asylum process itself, to immigration detention conditions, to the medical and mental health consequences of persecution in the country of origin.

After a decade of significant domestic victories, many US LGBTI advocacy organizations are now shifting some of their resources to address international LGBTI issues. This meeting will focus on ways that LGBTI advocates have begun to and can increase their focus on the rights of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. It will also address ways to bridge LGBTI and refugee advocates to increase protection and address advocacy gaps facing LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers.

Where : Human Rights Campaign-1640 Rhode Island NW, Washington, D.C 20036
Date : Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Time : 9:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m
Food and Drinks will be served

For more information or to RSVP email : rclgbticaucus@gmail.com


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Ferguson and Beyond: Next Steps for Justice

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Ferguson and Beyond: Next Steps for Justice Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 15, 2014

 People of faith are called to hold Ferguson, MO, in our hearts and minds as events continue to unfold following the death of Michael Brown last Saturday. Ferguson is not an isolated incident but part of a much larger legacy of violence and criminalization of Black people in the United States. We say the names of those we know but recognize many other people go unnamed.

Unitarian Universalists are taking action in Ferguson and around the country to advocate for justice and love. All of us are needed. During time of trauma and frustration, let us continue to explore ways to learn more, grow, heal, and take collective action. Use the resources below to take your own next steps and encourage others in your life to join you.

In Memoriam

The Stolen Lives Project

Images from National Moment of Silence Vigils #NMOS14 on Colorlines 

Black and Pink Boston in Solidarity with Michael Brown and the People of Ferguson

Meditation & Reflection

Please Don’t Shoot, Rev. Adriene Thorne, Middle Collegiate College

Up to Our Necks, Rev. Meg Riley, Huffington Post

On Michael Brown, Dr. Alveda King, KDSK

Learn More 

Things to Stop Being Distracted by When a Black Person Gets Murdered by Police, Mia McKenzie, Black Girl Dangerous

Ferguson and Resistance Against the Black Holocaust, Chris Crass, Truth Out 

Operation Ghetto Storm on the Extrajudicial Killing of 313 Black peopleMalcolm X Grassroots Movement

Our Homes are Not Battlefields: Reversing the Militarization and Federalization of Local Police in Massachusetts, Sunlight on Surveillance

Why don’t we hear about women victims of state violence? Verónica Bayetti Flores, Feministing

Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, #DONTSHOOT – Bearing Witness and Breaking the Silence

What’s Gender Got to Do with Police Brutality, Rights Working Group

Accountability & Justice

Black and Blue Activity Guide

Black Cops Against Police Brutality

Cop Watch and Holding Police Accountable, CopWatch NYC

Know Your Rights for LGBTQ Youth of Color, Streetwise and Safe

National Police Accountability Project, a Project of the National Lawyers Guild

National Day Against Police Brutality, The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

Stop Law Enforcement Violence, INCITE!

Take Action

Check out Ferguson Solidarity: Ways to Support the Fight, a Curated list from organizers in Ferguson including specific needs as well as ways to get involved at home

Ten Things White People can Do About Ferguson Besides Tweet, Kate Harding, Dame Magazine

Ask President Obama to Enact New Federal Laws to Protect Citizens from Police Violence & Misconduct via this petition

Support organizations in Ferguson and St. Louis doing work in solidarity including the Ferguson Bail Fund and  the Organization for Black Struggle

Support national organizations taking action to stop violence against Trans Women of Color including Trans Justice Funding Project  and Trans Women of Color Collective 

Join others at solidarity actions being organized throughout the country. Click here to see a list of upcoming events.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Capone-Henriquez, Chris Crass, Audra Friend, Rev. Jason Lydon, Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, Betty-Jeanne Reuters-Ward and Megan Selby for their resource recommendations.

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Choosing Heartbreak

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Choosing Heartbreak Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 14, 2014

My name is Alex, and I am white. And for two days a part of me wanted to avoid social media so that I could avoid the heartbreak of another young black man shot to death. Feeling guilty about that desire, I was then tempted to post the first good article on the topic I saw and walk away, not thinking about it anymore. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t because it would be too easy for me to shut my eyes and ignore the pain, not wanting to take on the heartbreak today. I couldn’t because the ease with which I could post someone else’s words about racism felt like a disservice to how horrific the impacts truly are.

It would be easy because of my race. I have the privileged choice to not have to think about Michael Brown and not have his face haunt me, infect me with worry for myself, my spouse, or my children. I have the privilege to be able to avoid the heartbreak.

I want to make a different choice. A harder choice. A choice to open my heart to the heartbreak. To cry. To feel soul-deep pain that Michael Brown is gone and that I live in a society in which his death is part of what has been carefully constructed as the “natural order of things”; in which his life is worth less. To grieve for all of the people who knew him and loved him and have to live with his murder for the rest of their lives, carrying the trauma within them, its ripples making waves for decades and generations.

I am also making the choice to grieve for the police officer who murdered Michael Brown. Regardless of the details that come to light about who he is and what happened, this police officer is a product of a society that did everything it could to teach him (and all of us) that young black and brown men are inherently criminal and that police are charged with keeping (white) people safe and upholding the (white) social order.

I grieve for all the people who enter that profession wanting to do good and work a decent job. Whether they know it or not, whether they like it or not, they are set up for failure by our culture’s deep-seated and ingrained messages about good and evil, right and wrong, mapped onto human bodies.

As long as we see individual people as the problem—whatever “the problem” may be—the cycle of violence continues. As long as we put people into groups and then create a single story about those groups—all black and brown men are criminal, all police officers are violently racist—we are not acting on the side of love.

As a white person, my choice today is to turn toward heartbreak, and grief, and pain, knowing that it is better to feel deeply and be spurred to create a better world than to be numb and give in to complacency. Heartbreak could send me down into a pit of despair. It could cause me to harden my heart and turn to anger. But instead I will stay present with the pain and let it spur me on toward creating a world where each person’s life is equally valued as the blessing that it is.

For me, staying present means leaning into pain when I have the choice not to. For others who have personal experience with violence, staying present may well mean self-care in the face of not being able to avoid the pain.

How are you staying present today and every day? How will you choose love when love is the hardest choice available? Choose love. Stay present. I am with you on the journey.

Rest in peace, Michael Brown. We will not rest.







Alex Kapitan
Congregational Advocacy & Witness Program Coordinator
Unitarian Universalist Association


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Spring Forward for Climate Justice

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Spring Forward for Climate Justice Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 11, 2014

We have been so honored to work alongside you for the past three years as together we created our Thirty Days of Love campaign. For 2015, we are proud to be part of a new initiative of the Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee(UUSC), called Commit2Respond to Climate Change, which will take place from World Water Day (March 22) to Earth Day (April 22) in 2015.

Commit2Respond was inspired in large part by the success of Thirty Days of Love, and the question: What if we can bring together the UUSC, UUA, and UUs all over the country and our partners to work on one justice issue? Climate justice is already affecting marginalized people all over the globe, and with the Commit2Respond initiative we will stand on the side of love with all those affected. We invite you to embrace this new program with open arms as it, too, has the potential to change hearts.

 We wanted to get the word out to you now, as some of you may be involved in congregational planning for the year. We won’t be offering materials for Thirty Days of Love in 2015 during the timeframe we have in years past, so that instead we can help bring all UUs together on climate justice in Spring 2015 and again at our General Assembly in Portland. However, you can access educational materials from previous years that might be useful in planning worship services, religious education classes, social justice meetings and more. Feel free to use these resources for 365 days of love all year round!

Check out these exciting things taking place in 2015:

• Look for resources and actions for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, with a special focus on landmark civil rights anniversaries.
• Mark the calendar for National Standing on the Side of Love Day: Feb. 14, 2015 & plan for a LOVE themed worship service!
• Join the movement and Commit 2 Respond to climate change by signing up here.

As we enter the fifth year of the campaign, we are so moved by all the ways that people have stood on the side of love to create beautiful change in our world. Congregations have done so well nurturing the seeds that we first planted; we are eager to cheer you on and watch your fruits continue to blossom. Share with us how you continue to stand on the side of love by emailing love@uua.org.

In faith,








Jennifer, Nora and the SSL Team

Jennifer Toth, Campaign Manager, Standing on the Side of Love

Nora Rasman, Campaign Coordinator, Standing on the Side of Love



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Thank you to the July 31 UU Arrestees

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| Thank you to the July 31 UU Arrestees Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 07, 2014

We are standing on the side of love with the 31 Unitarian Universalist clergy and leaders who got arrested as part of the July 31 Pray for Relief actions in front of the White House to stop deportations.

While many of the people arrested echoed the sentiment that theirs was a small sacrifice compared to the daily struggles many immigrants face, we are grateful for their witness nonetheless!

Thank you to these brave souls.

1. Rev. Lora Brandis, UU Justice Ministry California

2. Rev. Evin Carvill Ziemer, Central East Regional Group, UUA

3. Laura Davis, Palomar UU Fellowship

4. Rev. Barnaby Feder, Champlain Valley UU Society

5. Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UU Congregation of Phoenix

6. Rev. Fred Hammond, UU Congregation of Tuscaloosa

7. Carolyn Howe, First Parish Northborough, UU

8. Dee Idnani, UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA

9. Rev. Carie Johnsen, UU Community Church

10. Rev. Beth Johnson, Palomar UU Fellowship

11.  Rev. Susan Karlson, NYC New Sanctuary Coalition

12.  Rev. Amy Kindred, UU Fellowship of Charlotte County, FL

13.  Rev. Linda Lawrence, UU Congregation of Phoenix

14.  Yvonne Marlier, Unitarian Society of Germantown

15.  Rev. Kent Matthies, Unitarian Society of Germantown

16.  Rev. Kathleen McTigue, UU College of Social Justice

17.  Paul Mitchell, UU Justice Arizona Network

18.  Rev. Linda Olson Peebles, UU Church of Arlington and UUMA

19.  Rev. Amanda Poppei, Washington Ethical Society

20.  Rev. Jeanne Pupke, First UU, Richmond

21.  John Reed, United First Parish Church

22.  Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, Unitarian Society of Hartford

23.  Rev. Christina Sillari, First Parish, Portland, Maine

24.  Suzi Spangenberg, Seminarian, UU Fellowship of Laguna Beach

25.  Carol Stowell, UU Congregation of York

26.  Rev. Jan Taddeo,  UU Congregation of Gwinnett

27.  Rafaelina Veras, UUCY

28.  Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo, UU Church of Marblehead

29.  Laura Wagner, UU Mass Action

30.  Sandra Weir, UU Congregation of Phoenix

31.  Ross Wells, Washington Ethical Society

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