Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Katherine’s Parents Could Be Deported, Can You Help Keep Them At Home?

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Katherine and her family.

Last year, many of you joined us in Phoenix for Justice General Assembly as we learned firsthand about the destruction that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has wrought on immigrant families. You may already be familiar with the story of Katherine Figueroa. Katherine was 9 years old when she came home from school and watched her parents get arrested on live television as Sheriff Arpaio raided a carwash.

Please help keep Katherine’s parents at home. Click here to sign and share the petition.

Katherine immediately began to fight back, for both her own parents and for other families facing deportation. She organized children’s marches and gave testimony in DC, successfully getting her parents released from detention and drawing national attention to Arpaio’s racial profiling. She starred in the documentary Two Americans, sharing her story as a powerful counterpoint to Arpaio’s reign of terror in Maricopa County.

Katherine is now 13 years old and continues to fight against her parents’ deportation. While her organizing got them released from detention, their next court date is July 17 and they could be deported despite all of Katherine’s brave work to keep them home.

How can you support the Figueroa family and make sure that Katherine grows up with her loving parents, in the place they call home? Click here to sign and share the petition.

Even though Sheriff Arpaio was found guilty of racial profiling, his victims are still suffering the consequences of his targeting. Taking action for the Figueroa family is a way to speak up for all those facing deportation due to Arpaio’s raids. Katherine is a powerful role model for us all—boldly standing up to keep her family together to make sure that no other kid has to experience what she has.

Now is the time to join with Katherine and her parents and urge ICE to keep their family together.

Not one more deportation,

Susan Leslie
Lead Organizer
Standing on the Side of Love

PS: Check out our Road from Phoenix workshop from General Assembly 2013 to learn more about how we are continuing the work we started last year at Justice General Assembly.

The message above went out on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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Still Unpacking It All

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Post author Rev. Kären Rasmussen, center, at the Supreme Court as the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions were announced. Also pictured are Rev. Amanda Poppei and Rev. Paige Getty.

I’m still unpacking it all. The public, the personal, the private.

The public was the experience of standing outside the Supreme Court waiting for the marriage equality rulings. I was so nervous and hopeful. “Wow.” That was all I could say for hours after we heard the wonderful news. Literally, just, “Wow.” I was full of joy and numb at the same time!

The personal hit. Here I am with my clergy collar on, open and gay, wondering how this will affect my partner Barb and me. We need to read, study, and understand the legal aspects of it all. Marry? When and where? We just don’t yet, but the highest court in the land rules that we are equal.

The private was the singing of our national anthem with the crowd. The Washington Gay Men’s Chorus, all in red shirts, started softly singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” How many times in my life have I sung that, in uniform, while hiding who I am? Someone waived a large American flag. Land of the free and home of the brave! It was like I heard it for the first time. Being open, gay, and a Navy veteran somehow doesn’t all quite mix for me yet. We’ve had to hide for so long. But this… was beautiful.

My 56 years of life all went before my eyes. What a ride it has been with 20 years of service in the Navy. What a ride to be a minister. What a ride to stand there and think about being legally married. Open and free.

I didn’t know if I wanted to explode or implode!

Mary Oliver writes, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Like it hasn’t been wild already.

I honor our faith, Unitarian Universalism, for we have worked for years to help make marriage equality a reality. Whoever you are and whomever you love, you are welcome here.

This post was written by Rev. Kären Rasmussen, assistant minister at the UU Congregation of Columbia, Maryland, and minister for social justice at the UU Congregation of Fairfax, Virginia, and cross-posted from UUCF’s “Faith Matters” blogKären and her partner Barb Brehm are both retired Navy veterans and have been together for 27 years. They have 46 and a half years of service between them.

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Hope is a Thing with Wheels

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Nuns on the Bus visit Tallahassee

Inspired by faith, ten nuns are traveling the country to gather support for immigration reform. When they visited Tallahassee, they were greeted with a resounding ovation from the standing-room only crowd gathered at First Presbyterian. I, along with other Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee members, area clergy, representatives from Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant traditions, as well as AFSCME, and the NAACP; heard stories about deportations, disrupted families, and racist reactions to reform. But, I also heard hope rising in the presence of these ten nuns.

They came to meet with Senator Marco Rubio’s aide to offer encouragement for his work with a small group of legislators who’ve put forward a bill that will give some undocumented people access to a more secure status. They also came to push the Senator toward being a full-fledged leader supporting the bill in both the Senate and the House as amendments and alternate bills are brought to the fore. Finally, they came to leave–to go on to other Senators–and to leave us with a spirited willingness to continue to engage our Florida legislators on the issue.

Our legislators will need all the encouragement, support, and concerted nudging supporters of immigration reform can give them. Recently, we’ve heard of toxic reactions to ideas labelled with the word liberal. Public officials supporting gun control have had ricin-filled mail sent to them. Senator Rubio is already under verbal attack from opponents of his bill. An author of the Heritage Foundation study on immigration, Jason Richwine, holds fast to his dissertation theory that Hispanics have lower IQ’s than whites. Nothing is certain, and there may be many struggles ahead.

And, yet, ten nuns with gray hair and glasses, exuding their dedication to a life of loving inclusivity, dare to offer themselves as witnesses for those who can not speak for themselves for fear of being deported. Ten nuns found in themselves a willingness to act for human dignity, to call immigration reform a moral issue, to tickle our hopes with their enthusiasm for doing the right thing. Can we do any less?

This post was written by Rev. Robin Gray, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee. It was cross-posted from the TallahasseeUU blog.

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Keep Weaving the Fabric of Love

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Celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop 8. (Credit: Lindi Ramsden)

Last night, across California, we cheered the demise of Proposition 8 and rejoiced in the new federal recognition of married same-sex couples. What a day! I am still gratefully soaking up this new legal landscape.

How did we get here? In 2004, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California began work on marriage equality. California UU clergy went on marriage equality caravans. “Cottage Conversations” created awareness. We helped to pass groundbreaking marriage legislation and delivered 3,800 handmade Valentines to our governor asking him to stand on the side of love. When the movement turned to the courts, we filed a series of amicus briefs lifting up interfaith voices on behalf of religious liberty.

Finally, love and justice won. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that marriage could no longer be denied to same-sex couples. The weddings began, and same-sex couples gave voice to long-held vows of love and commitment.

Until November… when Proposition 8 passed, and the door was closed.

I know that LGBTQ people are far from the only minority who has been deprived of rights due to the fear of the majority. It was still hard to witness. Dueling lawn signs and arguments over the legitimacy of someone’s family damage us all.

We were in the thick of it. Our UULM Action Network had been asked to manage the interfaith part of the “No on 8″ campaign. From pastoral care for vulnerable families to clergy witness and relentless phone banks, we were put to the test. As people of faith, we refused to demonize those who opposed us.

While we lost the Prop 8 vote, we “lost forward.” We built important capacity for change. Others learned from our loss. State by state, the tide has now turned, creating the conditions for justice. We are so grateful.

Change is incremental. It comes in conversations and court decisions. It comes from young people raised without fear and the bravery of elders. And, it comes by refusing to live in silos – by standing with immigrants, by working for voting rights, by knowing that we are all family.

The Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 provide a huge burst of hope and momentum. Let’s use it. This week, the LGBTQ supportive community is needed to advance compassionate immigration reform so that all families can be safe.

Justice is a shared garment. Let’s keep weaving the fabric of love.

In faith,

Rev. Lindi Ramsden
Senior Minister & Executive Director
UU Legislative Ministry of California

The message above went out on Thursday, June 27, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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Decision Day is coming!

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All of us who stand on the side of love are eagerly awaiting Decision Day. This Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, we expect the U.S. Supreme Court to release decisions on two major marriage equality cases: the so-called federal “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8.

I hope you will join me in honoring this day by attending one of nearly a hundred Decision Day events across the country. Click here to find details for an event in your community. If you live in the DC area, join Standing on the Side of Love staff and supporters on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Many Decision Day events will take place on the day the Supreme Court actually releases their decisions, which we will only know that morning. Keep an eye on the Standing on the Side of Love Facebook or Twitter feeds—we’ll share the news as soon as it is released.

As we interpret, process, and respond to these decisions, it is important for us to be together—to celebrate or commiserate, and to show our support for marriage equality to the larger community. Show your pride by donning your bright yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts, banners, and signs.

In New York City, I will be gathering with Decision Day leaders, DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor, and thousands more in front of Stonewall—the birthplace of the gay liberation and pride movement on its 44th anniversary week!

For me, Decision Day will be deeply meaningful for four reasons:

  1. Since 2004, I have been volunteering as a passionate marriage equality advocate, basing my activism on the Unitarian Universalist principle of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I served as a lead organizer for the UU Fellowship of Raleigh’s 33 phone banks against our country’s last anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment in North Carolina—which tragically passed on May 8, 2012.
  2. Exactly a year later, I started a full-time job in NYC to advance the movement for marriage equality on a national level—including leading remote and in-person phone banks out of Times Square for state marriage campaigns, designing trainings on why marriage matters and how to share our stories, and helping organize Pride events and this Decision Day rally.
  3. I am also an out gay woman who someday hopes to marry the woman I love.
  4. I am originally from California and attended my first legal gay wedding in 2008 of my best friend from pre-school in our home town of Palos Verdes. I have been giving sermons at UU fellowships on Prop 8 for the past few years. I would love some news to update my sermons!

I hope you will be able to attend a Decision Day event in your community. Remember to take pictures of your Standing on the Side of Love presence and send them to love@uua.org.

Until then, here is hoping that the principles of love, equality, justice, and the inherent worth and dignity of all people—as signaled by who our government allows to marry—prevail in our Supreme Court.

In faith,

Tracy Hollister
Field Director
Marriage Equality USA

The message above went out on Monday, June 24, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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