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Join Me in Standing for What We Believe

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Join Me in Standing for What We Believe Share/Save/Bookmark Apr 12, 2012

The message below went out on Thursday, April 12, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

I buy a lot of books, some from my local bookstore and some from Amazon. Recently I purchased Van Jones’ new book, “Rebuild the Dream.” I paid for this with my Visa card and it will be shipped to me by Federal Express or UPS. Imagine my shock when I learned that each step of this transaction was providing revenue that supports the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is the organization that has promoted the “stand your ground” laws highlighted in the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida; Arizona-style, anti-immigrant legislation; laws that undercut voter registration in communities of color; and anti-environmental legislation. Yes it’s true. Amazon, Visa, Federal Express, and UPS all provide substantial support to ALEC. All I can say is: What are they thinking?

In addition to being a customer of these companies, I also have another relationship. As the Treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I am responsible for overseeing our denomination’s investments, and we hold stock in each one of these companies. I am outraged that these companies are funding ALEC, and shocked that these companies that depend on their relationships with millions of consumers would risk their hard-earned reputations by aligning themselves with ALEC and an agenda that is very often directly harmful to our communities. That’s a bad business decision that hurts us as a shareholder.

In the past days alone, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Wendy’s have all agreed to cut ties with ALEC due to pressure from consumers like you and me. Let’s keep up the pressure.

Please join the leadership of our denomination in asking Amazon, Visa, Federal Express, and UPS to cut their ties with ALEC.

Click here to sign our petition.

ALEC presents itself as a non-partisan organization “that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sector to develop state based solutions.” Its approach is to bring legislators together with business leaders to work jointly on crafting “model” legislation that can then be introduced, often verbatim, on a state-by-state basis. In addition to promoting “pro-business,” low/no tax legislation, ALEC pushes an ultra-right, pro-gun, anti-immigrant, voter disenfranchisement agenda—and ALEC is enabled by their corporate supporters. The (mostly Republican) state legislators, who make up the membership of ALEC, provide about 1% of the organization’s budget, while the rest comes from companies, many of which you and I do business with every day. None of ALEC’s work would be possible without its corporate funders.

The laws ALEC promotes stand in stark contrast to several of our Unitarian Universalist principles:

SB 1070 and its anti-immigrant copycats violate the spirit of “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

Voter I.D. proposals that disproportionately disenfranchise minorities fly in the face of “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”

Stand Your Ground legislation has shown how it gets in the way of “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

For several years now, the UUA has been working with other investors, including the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees and Walden Asset Management, to promote our values and press companies to disclose their financial relationships with lobbying groups like ALEC. Now we have the best example yet of why these alliances are bad for business and disastrous for our communities. This shareholder coalition has filed resolutions with many leading companies asking for full disclosure of their lobbying and political expenditures. The votes will take place over the coming months. We will continue to pressure them privately and to speak out at their annual shareholder meetings.

But we don’t have to wait. Right now, let’s urge Amazon, Visa, FedEx and UPS to stop funding ALEC. They deserve better company than that. You can join me in sending a message to these companies today.

Click here to urge Amazon, Visa, Federal Express, and UPS—companies the UUA holds shares in—to cut ties with ALEC.

Simply put, companies we do business with should not be aligning themselves with an organization that is doing such incredible harm to our communities.

In faith,


Tim Brennan
Unitarian Universalist Association

Ocean City, Maryland: Home of Religious Bigotry?

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Ocean City, Maryland: Home of Religious Bigotry? Share/Save/Bookmark Jan 24, 2012

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:

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.

Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side of Love

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.

Knoxville Area UU’s Organize Rally to Oppose Dangerous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Knoxville Area UU’s Organize Rally to Oppose Dangerous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Share/Save/Bookmark May 02, 2011
Knoxville Area UU Congregations Mobilize Community Against Anti-LGBT Bill

Knoxville Area UU Congregations Mobilize Community Against Anti-LGBT Bill

The current legislative session in Tennessee could be a very damaging one for LGBT individuals, families and allies. A proposed bill by State Sen. Stacy Campfield (R-Knoxville) would prohibit elementary and middle schools teachers from discussing homosexuality. The legislation has already been recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee. It could go for a vote of the full Senate this week.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as is is dubbed, has made national news. Time Magazine reported:

“…in only restricting speech about homosexuality, not heterosexuality, the measure seems to have a more one-sided agenda than the sponsor purports. That point has led gay-rights activists to call the bill a form of discrimination, especially as it bars teachers from talking about gay issues or sexuality even with students who identify as gay or have gay parents.

People of faith, educators and students in the Knoxville area are not allowing Sen. Campfield’s dangerous proposal to go unanswered. Rev. Chris Buice of Tennessee Valley UU Church and Rev. Jake Bohstedt Morrill of Oak Ridge UU Church — both in greater Knoxville — reached out to the TN Equality Project, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, as well as youth groups and educators, to organize a rally on Thursday in opposition to the legislation. The rally in Knoxville is particularly important, since Sen. Campfield, the lead sponsor, is homegrown.

As you can see from the photos, the Standing on the Side of Love banner is shining brightly in the sunshine!

Knoxville UUs Utilize Standing on the Side of Visibility & Messaging to Maximize the Impact of Their Rally

Knoxville UUs Utilize Standing on the Side of Visibility & Messaging to Maximize the Impact of Their Rally

The rally was covered across the country by the Advocate, as well as local newspapers. reported:

Waving posters and cheering on speakers, some 80 people rallied Thursday afternoon to express opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill now before the state Senate.

If the legislation passes, “students that are gay will be ostracized more than ever,” warned student Alesha Hicks, president of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Oak Ridge High School.

School guidance counselor Matt Koehler recalled an incident several years ago when a middle school boy came into his office in tears because he’d been called “gay, fag and homo.”

Any effort by him to defuse those verbal attacks would have been illegal under the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Koehler said.

Local publication also got to the heart of the issue:

Those who spoke at the rally, organized by the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church and the GSA at ORHS and Karns High School, said gay students have to endure ignorance, intolerance, and regular name-calling — and they sometimes live in fear of brutality.

“I am sick and tired of the violence of body and spirit directed against people just because of who they love,” said Rev. Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Standing on the Side of Love in Knoxville!

Standing on the Side of Love in Knoxville!

To take action against this dangerous anti-LGBT bill, you can sign this petition: and ask your friends and family to do the same — especially friends and family in Tennessee!