Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Day 7: Help Make Us “Sizzle”

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Today is Day 7 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to join our Facebook chat today at 4pm ET/1pm PT. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the first week of our Thirty Days of Love–what a journey it has already been! I have been so moved to read the words of our partners, from Michelle Alexander encouraging us to start a conversation on mass incarceration, to celebrating the 40th anniversary of Roe, to hearing from Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter. Wow.

Now, we want to hear from you! Join our chat on Facebook today at 4pm ET/1pm PT and tell us what you envision for the future of our campaign.

We want to talk about how we can continue to not only make our work as loving as possible, but also how to give it some pizazz, some spice. Never done a Facebook chat before? No worries–simply visit our Facebook page at the appropriate time and add a comment to our post introduing the chat.

Here at the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign HQ, we shorten our really fantastic (but long) name down to SSL, or the first letters of the prominent words of the campaign. The fun part? We pronounce SSL as “sizzle” and it is a reminder to us to keep what we do fun, and fresh, and well, sizzling! We’ll share these and other fun facts during our chat, so join us today.

If you can’t join the chat, please feel free to email us at love@uua.org with questions in advance and we can share our responses both during the chat, and directly to you.

Let’s sizzle together,

Jennifer Toth
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side of Love

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Using the Inauguration as a Reminder to Rededicate Ourselves

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Photobooth volunteers (Michelle Molitor, Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, Caroline Hill, Carmen Carrera), with Associate Minister Rev. Dr. Susan Newman and Social Justice Minister Cathy Rion Starr.

One couldn’t ignore the Presidential Inauguration here in the nation’s Capitol. So at All Souls Church in Washington, DC, we held our own inaugural ball on Sunday  to celebrate all the hard work of the election and to rededicate ourselves to the challenges ahead. As our Senior Minister the Rev. Rob Hardies says, “We’re not just inaugurating a president, we’re inaugurating a people.”

The live band kept the dance floor full as Unitarian Universalists and others dressed in better-than-Sunday-best danced, talked, and laughed with each other.  Meanwhile, in the corner of the hall, we captured snapshots of attendees with the President.  But this wasn’t just any photobooth!  The banner above the (cardboard) President read: “Mr. President, I pledge my commitment to….”  Our distinguished guests (aka, congregants) held signs for our priority justice issues.  The photobooth added another element of fun to the party (and to coffee hour after worship that morning), but it also reminded us that it’s time to recommit ourselves to build a movement for peace, environmental justice, migrant rights, affordable housing, and more.

 The photobooth reminded us that now is not the time to sit idly by, watching to see if Obama can continue the legacy of “Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall,” but rather, now is the time to rededicate ourselves to bending the arc of the universe toward justice, together.

Yes, we plan to deliver the photos to the White House, but more than that, we will follow up with all those who got their photo taken (check out some of our photos here) to make sure they’re engaged with our justice ministries.  Together, we will keep working to “inaugurate a people”  and to build a movement of spiritually grounded, strategic, and fun-loving people of faith.

In faith,

Cathy Rion Starr
Director of Social Justice Ministries
All Souls Church – Unitarian

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Day 6: Inspired by my grandfather, César Chávez

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Today is Day 6 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to think about who—from past to present—inspires your own justice-making. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

“The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being, but it is also the most true to our nature” – César Chávez

Growing up, I was in awe of my grandfather, César Chávez, as I watched his tireless work for the fair treatment of farm workers—an unwavering dedication that changed the lives of millions of people. My grandfather taught immigrants to read, orchestrated massive strikes, advocated for better wages and working conditions, and engaged in civil disobedience. The way he lived his life inspired me to make a lifetime commitment of my own to civil rights, the labor movement, and community organizing. During this week, when the beautiful Standing on the Side of Love community honors the legacy of those social justice leaders who came before us, I am proud to share how my grandfather inspired me.

My grandfather believed in giving power to the people so they could stand up for themselves. For strength, he drew upon Catholic teachings about goodwill, and he engaged in several spiritual fasts to affirm his personal commitment to non-violence. He once said, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” Indeed, my grandfather organized across lines of religion and culture. He cared about many disenfranchised groups, speaking out for other unions, against racism, and for LGBTQ rights, animal rights, and peace.

Honoring my grandfather’s legacy, I spent eight years as political director of United Farmworkers Union, the organization he helped co-found over 40 years ago. I also became active in fighting Prop. 8, performing commitment ceremonies to set an example of Latino community support for marriage equality, and helped form the Latino and African American Leadership Alliance to bring two historically disenfranchised communities together to forge peace and unity.

I also draw my inspiration from people all around me today, such as the organizers of Alianza Campesina. In a few months, I will bring 100 women involved in this farmworker women coalition to Washington, D.C. for a U.S. government interagency briefing where they will tell their stories—about wage and hour violations, hardships faced by those who are undocumented, and sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

During this Thirty Days of Love, as you embark on your spiritual journey for social justice, join me in thinking about who—from past to present—inspires your own justice-making.

Carry that inspiration with you as you continue to create incredible change in our world.

Sí, se puede,

Christine Chávez

Christine Chávez serves as the Farmworker Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a new position in the USDA focusing on how the Department can better serve the farmworker population.

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Day 5: Celebrate Love Heroes!

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Today is Day 5 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to honor Courageous Love in your community. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

Award recipients Sally, Pat, Scott, and Charles with Campaign Manager Jennifer Toth.

On Sunday, we got to help kick off the second annual Thirty Days of Love by awarding Courageous Love Awards to leaders at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. “Honor Legacy” is the theme for this first week of the campaign, and it is an apt touchstone for our historic congregation. When Rev. William Ellery Channing delivered “the Baltimore sermon” from our pulpit in 1819, he shook religion at its core and defined an American Unitarianism that was serious, rational, and progressive.

It was a joy to celebrate the stories of our congregational leaders. As a group, they worked to pass marriage equality—by popular vote!—this past November in Maryland, and have also advocated for the rights of LGBTQ people for decades. Award recipients Sally Wall and Pat Montley were our public spokespersons, receiving messaging training, addressing the media, and organizing other congregations to mobilize for equality. Scott MacLeod was our principal cheerleader in the congregation, urging our people to volunteer at phone banks and door-to-door canvassing, and leading a square dance fundraiser.

Fighting for human rights was nothing new for award recipient Charles Blackburn. In 1961, he was a Freedom Rider in the south, challenging local segregation laws by riding interstate buses. In 2004, Charles and his partner were one of nine couples in Deane & Polyak v. Conoway, the suit for equal marriage rights in Maryland. That suit was lost in 2007. Our congregation’s response? We hung a banner proclaiming “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right” as a testament to our commitment to equal rights for all. This past Sunday, acknowledging that marriage equality could not have been won without our UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland, we were able to take the banner down with pride.

Any organization or individual can give Courageous Love Awards to those who exhibit “courageous love.” This is an opportunity to recognize the amazing change-makers in your community and inspire future social justice work. Click here for more info on Courageous Love Awards.

Together, let’s continue to put our faith into action, and stand on the side of love!

Rev. David Carl Olson
First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, Maryland

PS: The Standing on the Side of Love campaign hopes your congregation is participating in Share the Love Sunday! The SSL website has some helpful resources for planning your service, taking a collection to support the Unitarian Universalist Association, and discussing what it means for your congregation to rejoice in community and stand on the side of love. Thanks for your generosity on February 17!

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Day 4: Roe v. Wade–The Beginning of a Conversation

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Today is Day 4 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to learn about the barriers to accessing reproductive health services in your community. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

My abortion experience isn’t the kind that might be featured in a Lifetime movie. I was 18, technically an adult. I consented to having sex. I lived in California, which is a state that provides emergency Medicaid for women who need financial assistance to help cover the costs of abortion care. The circumstances in which I found myself were not particularly difficult.

I was 6 months out of high school, a full-time student-athlete living away from home. I was privileged enough to be going to college and receiving some scholarship money to do so. One day during practice I found myself violently ill. I had started dating one of my teammates who was several years older than me. He said he was using protection. I believed him.

I was pregnant.

Abortions are expensive. I didn’t have any money and even though I knew my parents would probably help me, I was scared to tell them. I went to Planned Parenthood and they sent me to see if I qualified for emergency Medicaid. I did. The office was bustling with people desperate to get financial assistance for themselves and their sick family members.

I felt a lot of shame about my decision. Not because I thought it was morally wrong but because I had to hide it from so many people in my life. The stigma around abortion meant that I had to lie to people because telling them opened me up to unnecessarily punitive judgment. The hardest part about having an abortion was the stigmatizing environment in which I was having it. I knew it was the only decision for me and even though I didn’t know a lot of women who had them, I knew they were ashamed – so I was ashamed too. We’ve created a culture in which we’ve attached a certain set of feelings to a specific set of circumstances. I was ashamed and grieving out of obligation when all I really felt was relief.

10 years later there is so much about my abortion story that’s more difficult than I could understand then. The shame, the lies I had to tell, and the overall dishonestly. I am grateful for my right to choose to continue what I knew was the best life for me.

Today, as we honor the legacy of the 40th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, let us remember that Roe is simply the beginning of a conversation about access to abortion and other reproductive health services. For many women, especially those who are members of marginalized communities, the obstacles—whether social, financial, or legal—are simply insurmountable. For today’s daily action, find out what barriers exist to comprehensive reproductive health services in your community and think about how these barriers could impact a woman’s decisions about becoming a parent. Click here to get started.

In justice,

Shanelle Matthews
Forward Together

Forward Together leads grassroots actions and trains community leaders to transform policy and culture in ways that support individuals, families, and communities in reaching our full potential.

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