Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Decision Day is coming!

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| Decision Day is coming! Share/Save/Bookmark Jun 24, 2013

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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No Longer in My Name

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My name is Rev. Mark Kiyimba, and I am the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Kampala, Uganda. I also run a housing program for orphans of HIV victims, HIV+ youth and homeless LGBTI youth. I oppose the current iteration of the anti-gay law now in parliament, and have organized yearly conferences with other faith leaders calling for an end to violence and hatred against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

(Watch a video version of my message, filmed at our UU Congregation in Kampala, below.)

In the last 5 years, homophobic churches in Uganda that promote intolerance have been visited by high profile Western leaders and supported by major American Christian organizations. Western Evangelicals have been sending celebrity pastors, hundreds of missionaries and organizing major conferences in Uganda promoting intolerance and punishments for gays.

What we need is for influential high profile religious leaders who are tolerant and anti-hatred, to show solidarity with the more progressive churches of Uganda. We need to organize large religious conferences that teach a gospel of love and dignity for all. We need more Unitarian Universalists to stand on the side of love with us as we work to promote love and tolerance in Uganda.

Just this week, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office screened the film God Loves Uganda, in conjunction with a panel discussion titled: “No Longer in My Name, A Faith-Based Response to Faith-Based Intolerance.” This documentary is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow their interpretation of Biblical law.

I urge you to host your own screening in your congregation or community to raise awareness about this issue. Click here for more information, including links to trailers and how to host a screening.

I believe that there are many religious leaders in Uganda who can be moved to speak out against violence and hatred towards LGBT people. But they feel too alone and afraid to speak their hearts. The support of the American Religious Right has contributed to this alienation. The success of their messaging has led to the creation of the “kill the gays bill” in parliament. Today this proposed hateful legislation has the support of over 85% of Ugandans.

Religious leaders in Uganda who are LGBT allies have been shunned by our government and largely ignored by our western allies. Bishops have been fired and made poor after promoting tolerance and love. We feel alone here.

However, if faith leaders change their tone and begin speaking out against hate and violence, then we can turn the tide of faith-based intolerance in Uganda. We will not only defeat the anti-gay bill, but change the hearts and minds of Ugandans with respect to the treatment of LGBT people.

There are many ways you can take action, from showing the film God Loves Uganda, to supporting the Unitarian Universalist Association LGBT Uganda Fund, which is one of the only funds dedicated to supporting faith based LGBT advocacy in Uganda. With your help and collaboration, we will help to educate people about what is going on in Uganda and organize religious conferences across Africa with a very different faith message.

We can tell those who promote hate and violence in the name of the God, that they no longer speak in the name of all communities of faith. The majority of communities of faith believe tolerance and peace. Please help us spread this gospel of love. Our lives are depending on it.

In faith,

Rev. Mark Kiyimba

Rev. Mark Kiyimba

The message above went out on Friday, June 14, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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Immigrant Day in Sacramento, California

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We gathered in bright Standing on the Side of Love tee shirts, with hundreds of other activists at the California State Capitol on May 20 to lobby our legislators and support our immigrant neighbors. We held a rally to mark the 17th Annual Immigrant Day in Sacramento before meeting with the offices of our state assembly members to argue for bills such as the TRUST Act to curb deportations in California.

Immigrant Day UULMCA Group Shot

Immigrant Day group from the UU Legislative Ministry of California.

As we walked around the capitol building behind the Standing on the Side of Love banner, our golden shirts merged with the monarch butterflies of other marchers to symbolize migration as a human right. Our Standing on the Side of Love shirts did more than give us visibility–they helped forge solidarity with other groups. People recognize our shirts and respect what they stand for.

The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California co-sponsored this year’s action with the California Immigrant Policy Center. Nearly 70 UU’s from across the state helped organize teams to meet with state assembly members by district. Many UUs had previous training and experience with legislative visits and were also knowledgeable about the issues, so they became team leaders.

We will need to follow-up our visits with letters and phone calls, but the impact of hundreds of constituents converging on the California State Capitol was felt in the halls of the Assembly.

This post was submitted by Caryl Hughan. Caryl is the Social Justice Co-Chair at UU San Mateo.

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Tell President Obama: Stop Tearing Families Apart

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| Tell President Obama: Stop Tearing Families Apart Share/Save/Bookmark Jun 12, 2013

Last year when we witnessed together in Phoenix, we saw the power that comes with accompanying communities in their work toward justice. We were overjoyed to have thousands of Unitarian Universalists vigil with those on the frontlines in Arizona with the hope that Sheriff Arpaio’s tent city jail will someday be shut down.

Now, as many of us prepare to head to another Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (GA), I ask that you add your name, along with that of UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, to a letter asking President Obama to suspend deportations as Congress works toward immigration reform.

Click here to sign the petition to suspend deportations.

Since May 1st, people from our network around the country have been participating in a rolling fast to engage faith communities and call on the President to stop the suffering of people being deported today who could be offered citizenship tomorrow.

Since GA last year, we’ve done so much together. We were grateful and honored that many of you were involved with hosting the historic “No Papers No Fear” ride for justice that gave us all a new example of courage. I was happy to see Unitarian Universalist Barbara Moore sit in solidarity with young undocumented people in an act of civil disobedience last week in Los Angeles. And I’m heartened to know that there are UU congregations, and Standing on the Side of Love supporters, everywhere who are working for immigration justice. We know that our partnership is deep, profound, and stronger every day.

We need immigration reform so badly and no one knows that better than the families who go to bed worrying if they’ll be together tomorrow. That’s why it was easy for so many faith leaders to already add their names to this letter and I hope it is for you as well.

Click here to add your name to the petition.

Today, maybe even as you are reading this, representatives from 500 organizations will be delivering their letter to the President and they will point to this faith petition to show that the demand is only growing. Please be part of that groundswell.

I look forward to seeing many of you at GA 2013. Let’s make this another year for justice.

B. Loewe
National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)

PS: Going to the 2013 General Assembly next week in Louisville? Join me and UUA President Rev. Peter Morales in a workshop called “Road from Phoenix: Building on Justice General Assembly” on Thursday, June 20 at 10:45am.

The message above went out on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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How Can We Confidently Witness for Respect and Inclusion? Reach Out to Our Immigrant Neighbors

No Comments | Share On Facebook| How Can We Confidently Witness for Respect and Inclusion? Reach Out to Our Immigrant Neighbors Share/Save/Bookmark Jun 08, 2013
Children play with a pinata.

UU Fellowship of Marion County Annual Fiesta With Our Local Latino Partner Community (Credit: Nelson Hay)

As people of faith seeking to support just and compassionate immigration reform, how do we avoid becoming lost in the legal, ethical, and political maze that surrounds this issue? How do we gain the knowledge to confidently witness for respect and inclusion?

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Marion County, Florida (UUFMC) has found one answer in partnering with a local Latino immigrant community for mutual support and fellowship. The personal relationships we’ve formed there can inform our policy positions. By hearing and seeing and sometimes living the stories of our immigrant neighbors, we’re gaining firsthand knowledge of why they’ve come here and the challenges they face. This is to say nothing of gaining a little empathy.

Children gather around a woman playing the keyboard.

UU Fellowship of Marion County Annual Fiesta (Credit: Nelson Hay)

Many immigrants are struggling through separation from family, geographical isolation, social isolation in a strange culture, problems with schooling for children, problems with day care, problems with medical care, problems with transportation, problems with poverty and employment, and fear of authority figures of all sorts. For some of these problems we can help only a little, but we can learn to listen when we don’t have a language barrier, or just hold hands.

So, when we must come to grips with a very complicated piece of legislation like the 844-page Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, we will have the great advantage of being grounded in love and reality. We will still not have all the answers, but we will be much better able to rely upon the still, small voice of our instincts telling us what policies make sense.

This post was written by Nelson Hay. Nelson is a member of the Welcoming Congregation Committee and Communication Committee at the UU Fellowship of Marion County, Florida.

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