We are at a transformational moment—struggling to confront our culture of violence and bullying, anxious to see further advancements for LGBTQ equality, and poised to push our leaders to finally enact compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform. Seize this moment and join us for the second annual Thirty Days of Love, a period for intentional action, service, education, and reflection running from January 19 to February 17, 2013.
For those who belong to a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we hope you will participate in this spiritual journey by holding a worship service for Share the Love Sunday. This is an opportunity for your congregation to rejoice in the community that is our Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Special collections will support the UUA and all of its programs, including Standing on the Side of Love. Click here to learn more!
Wherever you come from, however you found us, open your heart and lift up your voice during the Thirty Days of Love for a world transformed through the power of love.
The Standing on the Side of Love Team
PS: Want to help us spread the word about the Thirty Days of Love? You can post the link on social media, make an announcement at your congregation, or even include a link like this in your email signature:
“Join me on a spiritual journey for social justice–take the Thirty Days of Love pledge!
The message above went out on Friday, January 11, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
Members of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville, Missouri, recently had an opportunity to live our mission as a “Welcoming Congregation” in the wider community by standing on the side of love during a local nondiscrimination vote. Emerson is a small congregation of about 120 members and one of two UU congregations in St. Louis County. Emerson’s members voted unanimously in May 2011 to apply for Welcoming Congregation status, and the application had been completed and approved by the beginning of last year.
On Tuesday evening, November 27, 2012, the St. Louis County Council planned to vote on Bill 279, which would remedy the exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity from nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations. No changes were to be made by the bill other than adding those two groups to those already protected from discrimination. The changes would affect the unincorporated sections of the county, which are home to approximately one-third of the county’s population. The rest of the county’s almost one million residents live in the 90 municipalities in the county, a growing number of which (in addition to the independent City of St. Louis) have already added these protections for LGBTQ citizens. It was clear that the vote would be close. It was also clear that some very vocal opposition planned to come to the Council chambers to speak against Bill 279.
PROMO, Missouri’s LGBTQ advocacy organization, contacted Emerson through our Welcoming Congregation committee–the Diversity Alliance–and asked for help. The LGBTQ community needed people to speak in support of the bill and thank the Council for its work to promote justice and equality for all country residents. Emerson Chapel has a long and cooperative history with PROMO, and we were grateful for this chance to witness to our values. In all, eight members and friends of Emerson Chapel attended the meeting.
The bill obviously excited people’s passions, as 92 people registered to speak in the packed Council chambers. The Council was only obligated to listen to half an hour of testimony, but showed great commitment to letting every voice be heard. Speakers were limited to one minute each. Some did waive their right to speak in the interests of time, but most did not. In the end, the council heard almost two hours of testimony.
Most of those who spoke were vehemently opposed to the bill, many citing religious reasons, and some using language that one Council member described as “intolerance” and “bigotry.” Words like “perverts,” “deviants,” and “bestiality” were thrown around by the bill’s opponents. Scripture was quoted, and more than one person threatened the Council with hellfire and damnation. Many of the bill’s opponents were from Concerned Women for America, a group with the goal of bringing Biblical principles into all levels of public policy. Some other very conservative groups were disproportionately represented as well, including many from the NRA who had latched onto some language in the bill about guns (though that section had already been on the books for approximately 20 years).
Thankfully, a much smaller, but equally passionate group spoke in support of the bill, including (but not limited to) two people associated with the Ethical Society, a couple of people from local Jewish organizations, and at least two who identified themselves as Christians, as well as three people from the Emerson contingent, including our minister Rev. Krista Taves, one of our young adults, and the current coordinator of our Diversity Alliance. Emerson also worked with Missourians for Equality to live-stream the entire meeting, and many other Emersonians watched along, or followed our Facebook updates posted from the Council chambers as we listened to the angry, frightened, hateful language with our hearts racing.
It was an extremely toxic and difficult two hours, but it was all worth it when the Council decided by a vote of 4 to 3 to pass the bill. This was a big victory for LGBTQ equality in our region, and we will continue to work with PROMO as more of the remaining municipalities in the county consider these same protections for LGBTQ residents. We were honored to participate in this historic event. Our work as a Welcoming Congregation doesn’t stop at our doors.
This post was written by Emerson UU Chapel member Lauren Lyerla, who testified at the County Council hearing. Find out more about the Unitarian Universalist Association’s “Welcoming Congregation” program here. Is your congregation already certified? Learn how to deepen your welcome here.More >
Without a doubt, 2012 has been a momentous year for Standing on the Side of Love.
We kicked off the year with our first annual Thirty Days of Love, bringing together thousands of people in a month of intentional reflection, action, education, and witness for love. In June, we gathered in Phoenix, a group of 2,500 strong, to call for justice at Sheriff Joe Arapaio’s inhumane Tent City jail. Across the country, we stood on the side of love at countless local city council meetings, detention centers, pride parades, state houses, prayer vigils, Walmart stores, and even the United States Supreme Court. We sent over 2,000 messages of love and support to the victims of the shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creak, Wisconsin. Together, we worked for a 2012 Election with unprecedented victories for marriage equality, DREAMers, and diversity in the halls of Congress.
Despite these amazing triumphs for love and justice, there is still much more work to be done in pursuit of the Beloved Community.
Join us in making a resolution for love in 2013. Pledge to take part in the Thirty Days of Love today!
We are kicking off 2013 with our second annual Thirty Days of Love campaign, and we hope you will join us once again on this month-long spiritual journey for justice. We will celebrate some important milestones–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the second inauguration of our first African American president, and more. President Obama has promised that comprehensive immigration reform will be on the top of his agenda, and we will be working with our partners across the country to ensure that families stay are able to stay together. And that’s just the beginning! We need your vision, your ideas, and your voice as we work for a more just and loving world in 2013.
With your help, we can stand on the side of love in new and profound ways in the upcoming year. Join the movement and take the Thirty Days of Love pledge today.
Standing on the Side of Love
The message above went out on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
Here at Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, Maine, we recently celebrated our state’s vote for marriage equality during our Sunday services–an event complete with Standing on the Side of Love-themed cakes!
We had two wedding cakes with same-sex edible marzipan couples as toppers, which the congregation shared during coffee hour. During the service itself, we danced around the sanctuary to commemorate the occasion.
Maine approved marriage equality by ballot measure in November. We are excited to begin having same-sex weddings here at our congregation in the new year!
This post was contributed by Meret Bainbridge, a member of Allen Avenue UU Church.More >
PrideWorks is a prominent educational conference for LGBTQ youth and their allies, held annually in Westchester County, New York. Every year, some 600 LGBTQ youth, their educators, parents, and allies flock to PrideWorks for seminars and speakers addressing such topics as healthy relationships, coming out, anti-bullying, and building a gay-straight alliance.
Every year there are also protesters outside the conference. This year their message was one of change–not for themselves but instead that our youth should change their sexual orientation. We are bothered every year by their presence as it’s the first thing that the youth see as they arrive. This year we offered a different greeting with a Standing on the Side of Love banner, which the youth appreciated enthusiastically.
Now in its fourteenth year, many Unitarian Universalist youth and adults in our area have attended the PrideWorks conference since the beginning. Some time ago, the youth group from our congregation in Hastings on Hudson held a fundraiser to support the conference, becoming the first UU supporter listed in the program. Over the past year, we have organized a bigger presence at PrideWorks. Each of the congregations in Westchester and Rockland obtained governing board approval to be an official sponsor and raised funds in some fashion, ranging from a youth group bake sale to share-the-plate programs.
This year, we were a “Rainbow Circle” supporter–recognized prominently with a display table to provide supportive material to youth. Many of us wore our Standing on the Side of Love shirts to help spread love all weekend long.
This post was contributed by John Cavallero, the Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester in Hastings on Hudson, New York. Other participating UU congregations include: Mohegan Lake, Croton on Hudson, Mount Kisco, White Plains, and Pomona.More >