The message below went out on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
My name is Leilani and I stand on the side of love. But there was once a time in my life that I didn’t. I don’t know exactly what sparked in me to share my story of courageous love, but the more I think about it, the more I truly feel that it is because I am so very grateful. And the best way to show that you are grateful is to express it. I always try to remember that thanksgiving is a word of action and I was excited to see that there was a place online dedicated to stories such as mine.
I was raised in a strict religious household. I turned 18 in 1998 and always took advantage of my right to vote. In 2000 I had the chance to vote on Prop. 22, which limited the rights of the LGBT community in my state of California. I was told by the Prophet of my church how to vote, and I blindly listened, regardless of my own thoughts.
In 2003, I made the best decision of my life and married Dustin. He was not of the same faith, which my family frowned upon, but he helped open my heart and my eyes to what love really is. How important separation of Church and State is to a democracy. And how equality goes beyond opinion, it’s a right.
I had the chance in 2008 to vote again on the rights of the LGBT community, with Prop. 8. This time, I listened to my heart and reason, instead of blindly following hate. I had learned that love makes a family, and love is never wrong.
I lost my extended religious family over it, but I gained so much. My husband supported me as I walked away from the church, and into a UU congregation.Never in my young life, would I have imagined that I would be where I am today. And I know without Dustin, I would still be blindly following the words of people who don’t really know what unconditional love is. I am glad I didn’t choose that tragic path.
It took courage for a young husband to stand up to his wife’s family, to his wife’s skewed beliefs, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Thank you Dustin, I love what your love has made of me.
I would like to invite you to share a story of courageous love. I truly believe that love should be shared; that by sharing love, love will multiply.
Leilani PearceMore >
The message below went out on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Today, as part of our Thirty Days of Love, we are talking about Community. Well, there’s something happening in my home — Maryland — that I know you’ll agree is something we should speak up about.
Ocean City, Maryland is a family-friendly destination for all Americans. Unless, it appears, you are American Muslims. The Mayor of Ocean City is hosting a notorious anti-Muslim speaker at the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in two days.
Retired Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin has been continuously outspoken in his views that Islam is not a religion, but “a totalitarian way of life,” and that it “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” He has also stated that Muslims should not be allowed to build mosques in America, that there be no interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims, and that Christians must go on the offensive against Islam.
A prayer breakfast in the Mayor’s name, and attended by the city council, is not a place where this sort of intolerance should be promoted.
Ask Mayor Meehan and the Ocean City City Council to have his name removed from the event, refuse to attend with Boykin, oppose the bigoted views of his guest, and support the inclusion of all Americans, including Muslim Americans.
Send a message today: www.change.org/petitions/ocean-city-maryland-home-of-religious-bigotry
The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is only two days away, and we want as many people as possible to sign this petition, so after you sign, please tell your friends.
P.S. This Thursday at 5pm we are hosting a Collective Visioning Webinar on the Story of Us, Story of Now with Linda Stout, Founder & Director of Spirit in Action. If you would like to participate in the Occupy the Present, Change the Future Webinar, please sign up here.
The UUA is hiring an LGBT Ministries Program Coordinator in our Washington Office to build the capacity of Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations and leaders to advocate, witness, and organize effectively for LGBT justice and equity at the local, state, and national levels; to represent appropriately the Unitarian Universalist Association in public witness, championing LGBT justice and equality including prayer vigils, rallies, conferences, and webinars; to work in coalition with interfaith and human rights organizations that advocate for LGBT justice and equality; to support and conduct social media advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights; to support the capacity of UU congregations to welcome, include, and minister to LGBT persons; and, to build the capacity of Unitarian Universalist congregations and leaders to work in multiracial/multicultural coalitions and partnerships for LGBT justice and equality.
Check out the UUA careers webpage for the full job description for the open LGBT Ministries Program Coordinator position.More >
The message below went out on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
An interesting thing happened as I began to craft today’s daily message about the challenges we face in our communities and the ways in which we respond. I found a key opportunity to stand on the side of love.
I’m a died-in-the-wool enthusiast for my chosen state – a proud Marylander through and through. I am passionate about being part of its progress, whether it means making sure we approve the Maryland DREAM Act this November on the ballot, pass a marriage equality bill in the coming weeks, or make a transgender anti-discrimination law a reality. I also want to stand up when I see something regressive. The past few days I have been chatting with Maryland advocates about the fact that the mayor of resort town Ocean City, Maryland will be hosting a notorious anti-Muslim individual to keynote his Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, which is happening later this week.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and People for the American Way have joined local progressives in calling on Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan to rescind his speaking invitation to retired Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who believes that “[Islam] should not be protected under the First Amendment” and that there should be “no mosques in America.” Boykin has been sowing Christian-Muslim divisions for years.
TODAY’S UP-TO-THE-MINUTE ACTION:
In an effort to seize the moment and stand with my community, Standing on the Side of Love is joining these calls and aks that Mayor Meehan demand to have his name removed from the event, refuse to attend with Boykin, oppose the bigoted views of his guest, and support the inclusion of all Americans, including Muslim Americans. Such a divisive, discriminatory, incendiary individual has no business headlining a prayer breakfast in a city that prides itself on welcoming all people.
Please join me in by taking action with Mayor Meehan as a way to declare our communities a safe space for all people:
- What is your local community struggling with?
- How has the economic crisis affected your congregation and community?
- How have you and/or your congregation been impacted by what you have witnessed these past months in your community, and what have you done in response?
- How is your congregation standing on the side of love?
Share your thoughts on these questions with our community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.
The two responses with the most FB ‘likes’ will receive a free Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt, hat, or tote bag.
When I contemplate these questions, I am struck by how many different communities I belong to, and the many ways I try to be in right relationship with these often overlapping communities. What about you?
Your partner in justice,
Standing on the Side Love
P.S. So many of our communities are struggling with the repercussions of the economic crisis. Our partner organization, Interfaith Worker Justice, offers some great resources for addressing these issues from a faith perspective. This includes a toolkit for congregations entitled, Unemployment and the Economic Crisis: A Congregational Toolkit and resources to reflect on the spiritual meaning of the economic crisis. You can find these resources here: http://www.iwj.org/template/page.cfm?id=201
P.P.S. Barb Michael from Marquette, MI shared with us a CSPAN program on poverty in America that looks worthwhile. It is a symposium on poverty in America, hosted by Tavis Smiley. Check it out: http://www.c-span.org/Events/Tavis-Smiley-Hosts-Symposium-on-Poverty-in-America/10737427045/More >
The message below went out on Monday, January 23, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Now that we have taken some valuable time to examine the Story of Self, this week we enter into the next phase of our 30 Days of Love: The Story of Us.
With your participation and collaboration, we are asking the participants and congregations that are at the center of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign to join us in a process of collective visioning.
Collective visioning and storytelling involves intentionally bringing people together to generate a positive vision based on our deeply held values and dreams. It is also about action planning so that we are prepared to actively work towards what we envision.
When we envisioned National Standing on the Side of Love Month: The Story of Us & Now, we knew we wanted to get to the heart of our campaign’s intersecting communities — congregations, allied organizations, online participants — and offer tools for engagement. Collective visioning offers us the opportunity to do just that — open our ears so we can understand more fully who we are, where we are in this present moment, and what we are called to do next.
This week, we will explore the following:
- Opportunities for reflection with your local community and congregations about your story of us & now. If you haven’t already, check out the Story of Us, Story of Now Guide under Featured Resources on the 30 Days calendar.
- The Collective Visioning webinar with Linda Stout of Spirit in Action this Thursday at 5pm ET. Sign up here to participate in the Collective Visioning Webinar.
- Key questions of who “we” are as a campaign given this moment in time and the societal challenges we face.
- The lifting up of the heroes among us, those who exemplify “courageous love.”
- Via a Friday facebook chat, an opportunity to offer your thoughts with the campaign about our future, and pose your questions.
- An exploration of the importance of sharing food with others.
If you have not already, sign up here to receive the 30 Days of Love daily email updates for more information about each of these events:
We can also credit our growth with the incredible work of the UUA’s Witness Ministries team that is constantly striving to strengthen our partnerships with other faith communities and like-minded organizations. Our team, based in Washington, D.C. and Boston, participates in interfaith coalitions to address anti-Muslim bigotry, immigration justice issues, and LGBT civil rights. We partner with organizations like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Equality Federation of Statewide LGBT Groups, and Interfaith Worker Justice to lift up our voices in unison.
Finally, we owe a debt to the power of the internet with broadening the reach of our campaign, and creating a space for UUs who aren’t affiliated with a congregation – or non-UUs who share these core values — to join. Now is an ideal time to bring other members of your community and congregation into our campaign and explore this moment together. Explain what Standing on the Side of Love means to you, and encourage folks to see what it might mean to them.
What’s next for Standing on the Side of Love as a campaign? We’re listening.
In partnership and equality,
Standing on the Side Love