When my wife and I were married in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, VA, two years ago next month, we celebrated our love and our commitment openly with our family and friends in our spiritual home. At the same time, we knew that we would not be receiving any of the benefits and protections from the state and federal government we would have received had we been a man and a woman. So in lieu of gifts, we asked our guests to make donations to support Equality Virginia.
With just two weeks left until Election Day, there is great hope that 2012 could be a tipping point for LGBTQ equality at the ballot box. Voters in Washington, Maine, and Maryland have the opportunity to approve marriage equality laws, while Minnesota voters will hopefully vote “no” to writing discrimination into their state constitution.
No matter where you live, you can take action to support marriage equality. Click here to get involved.
There are several innovative programs that allow marriage equality supporters across the country to take action. The Human Rights Campaign has developed a revolutionary “Call4Equality” tool that harnesses the power of Facebook to connect you with people you know in these states. The tool automatically creates personalized call lists and scripts for you to drum up votes and volunteers. For the more travel-inclined, you can work on one of the equality campaigns through United for Marriage’s “Volunteer Vacation” program.
Please join me in standing on the side of love this election season. Click here to find out how you can speak out for marriage equality no matter where you live.
Two years ago, my wife and I knew that Virginia was, and still is, a long way from voting to approve marriage equality. But this year in Washington, Maine, and Maryland, we have a real chance – a chance to make it clear that attitudes have changed – that the majority of Americans now support the right of everyone to marry the person they love. And, in Minnesota, we have a shot at saying “no” to defining marriage according to a few people’s view of what love should be. Help us seize this opportunity. Please take action for marriage equality today.
LGBTQ & Multicultural Ministries Program Manager
Unitarian Universalist Association
The message above went out on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here. More >
The poet Langston Hughes writes, “I dream a world where all will know sweet freedom’s way, where greed no longer saps the soul, nor avarice blights our day.” Across the country, Walmart store and warehouse workers are risking all they have to make that dream a reality. Just this month, Walmart workers walked off the job in 12 different states to protest Walmart’s poor wages and working conditions.
Now, Standing on the Side of Love and Interfaith Worker Justice are coming together to support Walmart workers on Black Friday, November 23, 2012. Click here to find an action near you.
I have had the honor to meet some of these brave workers. Sebastian* gathers carts in the parking lot of a California Walmart store. He loves his job and his co-workers, but he doesn’t love the pay or treatment by managers. He can’t get enough hours to be eligible for health care benefits, so he has none. He makes just a bit above minimum wage and keeps hoping for a raise, but hasn’t gotten one in two years. The managers ignore him and treat him like he is disposable. Sebastian is smart and committed to the company. He deserves a voice. He deserves respect.
The average Walmart Associate makes just $8.81 per hour and many, like Sebastian, have no benefits because they aren’t allowed to work the minimum number of hours to receive health care coverage. As one of the largest employers of immigrants and people of color in the United States, Walmart’s policies have a direct impact on some of the most marginalized members of our communities.
Walmart can afford to do better. Last year, the company made $10 billion in profits. In 2010, the net worth of six members of the Walton family exceeded the combined wealth of the bottom 42% of American families. Walmart claims it is doing its share to help poor people by keeping prices low. Phewy! Walmart could still have low prices and pay its workers living wages and benefits.
This year on Black Friday—Walmart’s number one profit day, we’re going to show Walmart workers some love. Please join me and other worker advocates and people of faith in showing support for Walmart workers. Some of us will be doing prayer vigils and delivering letters to managers. Others will be holding flash mobs inside the store. Together, we will raise our voices with those of workers across the country to call for increased wages, better working conditions, and more respect for Walmart workers.
Please join me in standing on the side of love with Walmart workers. Click here to find an action at a Walmart store near you.
Interfaith Worker Justice
*name changed for his protection
The message above went out on Thursday, October 18, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
As the Faith Director for Mainers United for Marriage, I am constantly called upon to tell my story. The folks I encounter working to bring marriage equality to Maine inevitably ask, “Why do you want to work on marriage for LGBTQ couples?” Many assume that I will share my desire to marry couples in my congregation, or friends of mine who have been in long-term loving relationships for many years. They think I will lift up the joy of performing marriage ceremonies and hosting weddings in the beautiful Unitarian Universalist church in southern Maine where I have served as minister for 10 years.
But, for me, marriage equality is more about funerals than about weddings. It is about the lives that are shattered when someone dies and they do not have a legal contract that binds them together. I tell the stories of grumpy families of origin who show up and claim custody of estranged grandchildren or demand the rights to their children’s home and money, leaving the deceased’s partner with nothing but grief and exponential loss. I tell the stories of partners who are left behind with no pension benefits or insurance. I tell the stories of families who claim the body of their loved one, plan a funeral, and exclude the lifelong partner because they “never agreed with their lifestyle anyway.”
If you think the issue of marriage equality does not belong in church; you’ve forgotten that it is already there. LGBTQ advocacy, including marriage equality IS a religious issue. It’s an issue about love, inclusion, and non-judgement. It’s about the greatest commandment that Jesus issued, to “Love one another, as I have loved you.” It’s about the Golden Rule, a variation of which appears in every major religion. It is about the Unitarian Universalist first principle of honoring the inherent worth and dignity of all people. It is about the oft-recited covenant: “Love is the spirit of this church, service is its law; this is our great covenant to dwell together in peace, seek the truth in love, and help one another.” Each and every time we talk to someone about the freedom to marry, we should think of our conversation as a prophetic encounter, inspired from the Holy that is within each one of us.
Here in Maine, people of faith are hard at work across the state advocating for marriage equality and “Yes on 1.” We kicked off the summer with an amazing Pride Parade in which some 400 people of faith marched through the streets of Portland. Many congregations are lending the campaign office space and organizing phone banks, door-to-door canvasses, and so much more. We are “Standing on the Side of Love” in ways that we never have before.
Even if you don’t live in Maine, Washington, Minnesota, or Maryland (the four states with marriage-related ballot measures), you can still get involved in the work for marriage equality this election season. Through the Vacation for Equality program, you can spend a week, two weeks, or a month—the time commitment is up to you—working on one of the equality campaigns. You can also use HRC’s revolutionary Call4Equality tool that uses the power of Facebook to help you get in touch with the people you know in these states. Please join me this fall in standing on the side of love for marriage equality.More >
Today marks the 25th annual National Coming Out Day, a day that offers a space for sharing core pieces of ourselves with others. In a society where “religion” is often equated with hatred toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified people, National Coming Out Day offers the powerful opportunity for all people of faith—allies, religious communities, family members of LGBTQ people, and LGBTQ folks ourselves—to come out as welcoming and loving.
Recently, Zach Wahls came out as the child of a same-gender couple, changing hearts and minds within the Boy Scouts, at the DNC, and for millions of YouTube viewers, “The Matrix” film director Lana Wachowski publicly came forward as a transgender woman, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper came out as a gay man, more than 30 Unitarian Universalist congregations came out for the first time as Welcoming Congregations, and countless DREAMers came out as queer, undocumented, and unafraid. Each in turn pointed the way toward the world we dream about.
Now it’s your turn! Click here for 10 unique ways anyone can take action today. And—if you are a member of a congregation—click here to learn how religious communities can come out as welcoming places for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
Whether you speak out as an individual or as a member of a congregation, as an LGBTQ-identified person or as a loving ally, your coming out will be a necessary reaffirmation. You really can make a difference this National Coming Out Day!
So come out! Together, we can create the Beloved Community where, as the UUA Leadership Council puts it, all people are welcomed as blessings and the human family lives whole and reconciled. We can if we come out in prophetic witness of the world that can yet be if we can only imagine it, hold it sacred, and do not rest until it comes.
LGBTQ & Multicultural Programs Administrator
Unitarian Universalist Association
The message above went out on Thursday, October 11, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here. More >
“Native American communities have for many years asked their allies to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Doing so means more than just changing what our calendars call the second Monday in October, however. It means educating ourselves about the very real issues facing the indigenous peoples with whom our faith calls us to be in right relationship.”
- Rev. Dr. Michael Tino
As Rev. Tino implores, let us take this Indigenous Peoples Day to educate ourselves about the serious issues faced by the indigenous community. One of issues at the forefront this fall is the pending reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The Senate version of this legislation makes important jurisdictional changes that would help protect native victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Between 2005 and 2009, U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute 52% of violent crimes committed in Indian country, 67% of which were sexual abuse cases. The Senate version of VAWA would return concurrent tribal authority to investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases and give first responders–tribal police and tribal courts–the tools they need to stop violence in its early stages. You can read more detail about what these provisions entail here.
The Indian Law Resource Center created this heart-wrenching video to show why the tribal provisions in the VAWA legislation are so important for native communities:
Want to get involved? Click here to learn more about how you can speak out for a VAWA that includes protections for native victims of domestic & sexual abuse.More >