Bringing Love to the Tea Party
Over sixty people answered the call to join the Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) witness at this morning’s Tea Party rally on Boston Common. Our invitation read:
Standing on the Side of Love is calling for civility and respect in the public dialogue. We stand on the side of love with all those who are being shut out, oppressed or attacked because of their identities, from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community, to immigrant families, and people of color. We believe there is room for political discourse for everyone, including the Tea Party, but what there is no room for is racism, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, fear and hatred. And there is certainly no room for name calling, spitting, and physical attacks. Love can overcome hatred and fear and bring our communities together.
About thirty people gathered on the steps of the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters. We carried a large SSL banner down to the rally and placards reading “Harness the power of LOVE to stop oppression, exclusion, and violence,” “Standing on the side of love for LGBT equality,” “Standing on the side of love with immigrant families” and “Standing on the side of love and civility in public discourse.”
We were later joined by another thirty people; some came looking for Standing on the Side of Love and others found us. We were Unitarian Universalist members and clergy from congregations in Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Lexington, Medford, Jamaica Plain, Salem, Waltham, and Wayland. We were joined by Episcopalian ministers from Cambridge, Catholics from the Paulist Center, and congregants from a United Church of Christ congregation, as well as by community peace activists, faith labor leaders, and students.
There were several people with whom I talked and whose stories resonated with me. An African American minister said that she had been afraid to walk through the Common to a meeting she had planned later in the day and had told a friend. The friend then sent her a Facebook message about the Standing on the Side of Love witness at the Tea Party. The minister decided to join us, put on her clerical collar, and grabbed an SSL sign to take with her and hold.
A young self-identified lesbian asked if she could stand with us as she walking by and saw the banner. One of the Tea Party demonstrators came up to tell us that he was for immigration reform. Many people thanked us for being there.
Our group was quiet and friendly. We talked with lots of people and handed out wallet cards, brochures, buttons, and bumper stickers (we didn’t have t-shirts and so many people wanted them!) Our spokespeople were interviewed by the Associated Press, Fox News, the Boston Globe, and community newspapers.
I told the Associated Press that public discourse is great – there’s room for the tea party – but there’s no room for racism or homophobia or anti-immigrant sentiment. I was thrilled when they picked up that quote and now people all across the nation – Fresno, Dallas, South Carolina – know that we were there, standing on the side of love.