“I have a deportation order, and I don’t want to be separated from my family. That is why I’m here,” said Irasema Zapata, a wife and mother of three U.S. citizen children from Guatemala. Irasema was speaking at a rally and press conference on March 20th to launch the Massachusetts Trust Act.
I first met Irasema just a few days after she and her husband were pulled over by the police. Her husband was arrested for driving without a license, even though he has a valid Washington State license, and they were both put into deportation proceedings. We met when she was speaking at a UU Mass Action event about the Massachusetts Trust Act, telling her story for the first time.
Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) says that their so-called Secure Communities program is about deporting hardened criminals. However, their own statistics tell a very different story. In Massachusetts, 60% of those who are deported are like Irasema and her husband. They have committed no crime and are getting deported for things like minor traffic violations.
We must help stop these deportations! Thirty people, including 15 members of North Parish in North Andover, went with Irasema to a deportation hearing and slowed the process down. North Parish then collected over 100 post cards and brought them to the March 20th rally and press conference at the Massachusetts State House to deliver a message to their legislators. The message? We need to stop deporting hard working immigrants and breaking up their families by passing the Massachusetts Trust Act.
UU Mass Action is playing a leading role in organizing the interfaith community around the Massachusetts Trust Act. Throughout April and May, we are organizing a series of actions statewide along with our partners in the labor and immigrant rights community. These actions include our annual Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Day where we will bring over 100 UUs to the State House to demand passage of the Trust Act. We will gain inspiration from our featured speaker, Sister Simone Campbell of Network, who organized the Nuns on the Bus tour in opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget.
If you live in Massachusetts, please join us in the Massachusetts Trust Act Campaign. Trust Act campaigns are gaining momentum in states across the country, including California and Connecticut. You can also learn how to bring the Restoring Trust Campaign to your local community at the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website.
Together, we can stand on the side of love with immigrant families to help stop the deportation of community members like Irasema.
This post was written by Jesse Jaeger, Executive Director of UU Mass Action.More >
Let us witness together in Washington, DC next Tuesday at A Prayer for Love & Justice and the United for Marriage Rally. Look for the large Standing on the Side of Love banner after the prayer service at 8:30 a.m. and join us in marching to the Supreme Court. We’ll be wearing our yellow SSL shirts; if you have one, please wear it too!
Marriage Equality Is Not Just for Same-Sex Couples
Forty years ago, I first heard the word “homosexual” applied to me. I was eighteen years old when my mother disclosed that a nun from my Catholic girls’ boarding school had called with the news that I was involved in “an unsavory relationship with another girl.” The news devastated her. She never recovered from it. For many years, I yearned for her to accept me as a lesbian. I needed her acceptance to feel whole and it hurt and angered me that she withheld it.
In the eleven years since her death, I’ve come to realize that my mother could no more change who she was than I could become a heterosexual. My mother’s homophobia was not fear of homosexuality, it was fear for her lesbian daughter. Because society disparaged same-sex love so vehemently, she could not reconcile her fear. She feared that others would mistreat me, or at the very least, think less of me, and that, ultimately, God would condemn me. What she feared most of all was that she had done something to cause me to suffer this fate. Ironically, it was her deep love for me in a society filled with hate and intolerance that prevented her from accepting me as a lesbian.
On March 26, 2013, I’ll be attending a 7:15 a.m. prayer service, A Prayer for Love & Justice at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, D.C., and then witnessing in front of the United States Supreme Court to join the United for Marriage Rally as the justices hear the first of two cases related to marriage equality for same-sex couples. Later than evening, I will attend Parting the Waters: A Seder for Love, Liberation & Justice. As the LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association, I will join others as, once again, we stand on the side of love. Most of all, I hope our presence there reminds people that affirming same-sex love matters. If you can join me, wear your Standing on the Side of Love shirt and look for the SSL banner outside the church after the prayer service at about 8:30 a.m.
If you cannot be in DC on March 26, I hope you will join one of the many faith events happening around the country or create one of your own. You can find the full list or register your event at United for Marriage.
In the years since my mother died, nine states–Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia–have recognized same-sex marriage. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s rulings on the two cases before them, more states, like Rhode Island and Illinois who are now considering bills, are sure to follow. Hearts and minds are changing. Publically and privately, people are reconsidering long-held beliefs about same-sex relationships and coming out in support.
And yet, I know that full marriage equality is not a panacea. Clerics will still blaspheme LGBTQ people from their pulpits; politicians will continue to deride us in the hope of attracting voters; employers will still fire us; detractors will still beat and kill us. And, because of the hate kindled by these clerics and politicians and employers and attackers, we will still kill ourselves.
But maybe, just maybe, as marriage equality becomes a reality for all Americans, the hate will subside. Maybe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified youth, whether or not they eventually choose to marry, will have more hope about their lives. And maybe parents will be able to let go of enough of their fear to love and accept their children.
Marriage equality is not just for same-sex couples; it’s for the millions of people who love us and need to know society is not pitted against us. Please join me, so that together we can replace fear with love.More >
Scouting was an integral part of my development as a young man. In the Scouts, with my moms leading the way, I learned all kinds of vital skills, personal habits, and core values that continue to define me some 15 years after I joined the Cub Scouts.
Nevertheless, I am acutely aware of the effects that the Boy Scouts of America’s long-standing national policy forbidding the participation of “avowed homosexuals” as scouts and leaders has on families like mine.
We are at a key moment in the movement for equality in Scouting.
The Boy Scouts of America has introduced a survey called “Voice of the Scout,” and the feedback it provides will be an important factor in determining the future of the BSA.
Click here to request the survey. You’ll need your (or your Scout’s) membership ID number to participate.
For those who don’t have a membership ID, you can contact the Boy Scouts of America directly here.
That the Boy Scouts of America continue to engage in blind discrimination is both disappointing and discouraging. The Boy Scouts have otherwise codified bravery into its value system, maintained a policy of religious diversity, and stressed the importance of self-enrichment instead of judging others.
It provided an experience that I found to be incredibly beneficial and an experience of which my mothers were thrilled to be a part.
This is a direct opportunity for you to make your voice heard in this pivotal moment. Completing this survey is the next step in making the Boy Scouts of America a community for all youth and parents.
Thank you for your help in shaping a more welcoming and inclusive future for Scouting.
Scouts for Equality
Eagle Scout ’07
The message above went out on Friday, March 15, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
This spring, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform. As people of faith, we must raise our voices for an immigration reform bill that promotes justice, compassion, and keeps families together.
In this informative webinar, Standing on the Side of Love staff along with grassroots leaders at the state and local level, described the strategy for passing comprehensive immigration reform and provided tips
Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.
Click here to download a transcript of the Q & A portion of the webinar.
Ready to take the next step? Visit http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org/cir to commit to doing an in-district advocacy visit and make your voice heard on this important issue.More >
I remember when I first read the brief, yet powerful article, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. I was a young and fairly naïve college student, and Peggy McIntosh’s words opened my eyes to the world of racial identity and privilege in ways I hadn’t considered. Few pieces have the power to shape our perception in this way – to illuminate a startling truth, which makes us question who we are, and how we live.
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, is a book that has this kind of power. Selected by the Unitarian Universalist Association as this year’s Common Read, Alexander’s book details the far reaching, disparate, and destructive impact of the so-called “War on Drugs” on African-American communities. In ways eerily similar to the eras of slavery and Jim Crow, African-Americans are currently being subjugated and oppressed. Under the guise of criminal justice, African Americans are being rounded up and locked away for non-violent drug offenses, resulting in a lifetime of negative consequences. Once labeled criminals, they effectively become second-class citizens. As such, it becomes exceedingly difficult to find honest work, and they are often stripped of their democratic right to vote, along with other consequences.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to read this book recently as part of an eclectic congregational study group. One of the members of our group, Matt Pillischer, recently produced a documentary on this issue entitled Broken on All Sides. When I asked Matt about our study group, he said “It reminds me so much of what I’ve read and heard about the beginning of the civil rights or women’s movements. All the times of radical upheaval and massive change in society have started with a few individuals coming together to talk about what they think is wrong and deciding collectively to do what they could to change it.” As long as injustice prevails, we, as a community, have failed to uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. I sincerely hope you will read this book, and join us in this movement for justice.
This post was written by Miles Davison. Miles is a member of First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, where he currently serves as the co-chair of the Ministry Leadership Team.
Are you looking for next steps in your work against the New Jim Crow and the mass incarceration system? Check out our “Addressing Mass Incarceration” page for more ways to get involved.More >