A Sign of Love
Recently, I have been thinking lots about Portland, Oregon, in 2004. My wife was working for the statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, and I had recently been laid off from my job working as a sexuality educator at the LGBTQ youth resource center. We woke up one morning to discover that Multnomah County, where we were living at the time, had started to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. In a matter of hours, my wife and I along with a team of volunteers organized clergy, space, and logistics for 800 couples to get married over two days. It was a time when we were overwhelmed with love. We witnessed people who had been together for fifty years finally given the right to marry. We saw children who got their families recognized as valid for the first time. There was laughter, and hugging, and real LOVE.
Just after that amazing week, my wife and I were walking down the street downtown looking at all the beautiful church buildings and enjoying a lovely rare sunny day. Neither my wife nor I had set foot in a church in many, many years. She had always said she had no interest in going back to any organized religion. As we rounded the corner we saw a great big old church with a giant sign out front that proclaimed: “We support marriage equality.” We decided right then and there to check it out on Sunday morning.
When we walked into the church that Sunday we felt nervous and anxious. Would people be friendly to us? Would we be welcome? Was there really a faith community where we would be accepted as a couple? We entered the sanctuary and sat down amongst the other 500 people and waited for the service to begin.
The service began like many others I had been to. We sang hymns and listened to readings… then something changed. The minister started talking about all the people who had been able to get married in the last week. She talked from her heart about the importance of standing on the side of love. About welcoming all people and speaking out when things are not right. Then she had all the newlyweds rise so everyone could cheer.
This was our introduction to Unitarian Universalism. A great big sign and a room full of people who were standing on the side of love. I will forever be grateful to the people who decided to put that sign outside on that building. It was a sign of love, a sign of hope, and a sign leading me to my spiritual home.
I want to remind you that often it is the little things we do in life that have the biggest impact. As a Unitarian Universalist and a director of religious education, I feel it is my responsibility to stand on the side of love all year long. Will you stand with me?
This post was written by Tina Lesley-Fox. Tina is the Director of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse, New York.