On February 14th, Loudoun County Supervisor Stevens Miller, participated with other members of the community in a panel discussion on how to make Loudoun County, Virginia a more welcoming place for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Sterling, VA.
This video first appeared in the Loudoun Times-Mirror.More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
I can barely believe what we accomplished on February 14th. You exceeded all of my expectations for how powerful we could be if we Reimagined Valentine’s Day.
Over 100 events took place all across the world! In Wakefield, Rhode Island, a congregation took signs of love out to a busy street corner and a chorus of car horns greeted them. In Loudon County, Virginia an entire community gathered to find ways to be more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender neighbors. In San Diego, congregants made breakfast burritos for day laborers. And in Kampala, Uganda courageous gay and lesbian citizens held a revolutionary conference to organize against the life-threatening anti-homosexuality bill.
You are part of a much bigger movement. But don’t take it from me; watch this inspiring video that brought tears to my eyes and tells the story of this movement better than I ever could.
You signed postcards for comprehensive immigration reform, spoke out about facing oppression because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, and reached out to your neighbors to bridge racial divides.
Together we proved that all you need to build a successful movement is thousands of people committed to a singular mission. That mission is to stand on the side of love, and boy are we doing it.
I am blown away by all the time, energy, and resources you have dedicated to this campaign. It is truly an honor to stand with you.
P.S. We got some great media coverage in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Beliefnet and over 20 other media outlets. Check out all the media coverage here.More >
I have never fully embraced Valentine’s Day.
When I was single, the day and everything leading up to it, seemed to focus on what I lacked, and I found myself resenting the Hallmark-fueled mandatory expressions of romance.
When John and I met, he was equally ambivalent about Valentine’s Day, preferring to focus his attention on what he felt was a sorely-underrated holiday: Groundhog’s Day.
And so as our relationship unfolded we happily exchanged cards and small gifts on Groundhog’s Day, and then privately snickered as everyone else paid ridiculously inflated prices for flowers and chocolates two weeks later.
But then something happened.
Two beautiful little people came into our world, seemingly on a mission to teach us to see love and beauty everywhere.
Last week as my children made simple, handmade Valentines for their classmates and teachers, I felt my heart soften and embrace the sweetness of what this holiday was — long before it was Mylar balloons, and singing cards, and chocolates wrapped in plastic.
And then yesterday, at our Unitarian Universalist church, as if the service was designed just for me, our minister invited us to re-image Valentine’s day while speaking of the power of love to heal our world.
While I was upstairs singing (I recently re-joined the choir after a 4+ year break — yay!) and enjoying this inspiring service, John and the kids were downstairs in the religious education classrooms making signs to express what love and peace and equality mean to them.
At the end of our service they paraded into the sanctuary carrying their signs and invited us all to join them by marching about a mile from our church to the center of town for a Standing on the Side of Love peace rally.
While we marched I asked Lily what the rally was all about.
“It’s about spreading love, Mama. And brightening people’s days. And being kind to each other. That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.”
And this is how on a cold, February day, as I stood on the side of the road with my children and more than 80 members of our beautiful spiritual community, smiling and waving our signs as passerbys honked and cheered for equal rights and equal marriage and world peace, I came to know and love and joyfully celebrate the true spirit of Valentine’s Day.
This blog was originally posted on Erin Goodman’s blog, exhale. return to center.More >
What it looks like to re-imagine love…
On Sunday, February 14th, the very core of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign came to life. Over 100 communities Reimagined Valentine’s Day and celebrated International Standing on the Side of Love Day. It was a day of worship and action. Each community that participated focused on issues that mattered locally and used tactics that would create change.
Do you want to see what this unique day of action looked like? Check out our photo gallery.
Rev. Theresa Novak and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, Utah, hosted a town hall style meeting addressing the need for local anti-discrimination ordinances to protect members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. Rev. Novak said in the Salt Lake Tribune,
Love has the power to transform not only lives, but also society. It is the message of all religions, and one that we all need to remember if we want to call ourselves people of faith. How we treat each other matters.
In Potsdam, the State University of New York hosted a Reimagining Valentine’s Day event where State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a supporter of marriage equality spoke. Potsdam Rally Co-Organizer Austin Kenyon was quoted on local television news saying,
This weekend is a symbol, it’s done purposefully, to reimagine Valentine’s Day as a holiday. To reimagine it not as just a holiday of candy and Hallmark cards. But as a day of love and acceptance for everyone.
At First Parish Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist, in Massachusetts, the congregation held a worship service called, “To Haiti, With Love.” They hosted members of the Haitian Community, filled out postcards in support of comprehensive immigration reform, signed up to volunteer at legal clinics helping Haitian immigrants register for temporary protected status. Then, they capped it all off by singing out their love on the steps of the church.
Dozens of congregations made Valentines for elected officials to ask them to stand on the side of love, or for community members, letting their neighbors know that they are not alone in the struggles they face.
Two ministers, one in Maryland and one in Phoenix, publicly declared they would stop signing marriage licenses until all people could marry whom they love.
Perhaps the most daring event held on February 14th, was in Kampala, Uganda. The Ugandan Parliament is considering passing a bill that would make homosexuality illegal, punishable by imprisonment and, in some cases, death. Rev. Mark Kiyimba, the minister serving the two Ugandan Unitarian Universalist congregations, was the key organizer of the conference called, “Standing on the Side of Love: Reimagining Valentine’s Day.”
Because of the risk involved in hosting or attending such a conference, the exact location wasn’t shared until the last minute and was only shared by word of mouth. Still, over 200 people attended. Pastor Kiyimba, whose church members include many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, released a statement to the press saying,
I cannot stand by and watch as my community is exterminated. My church will become illegal and cease to exist if this bill becomes law.
Participants also posted their own videos to the web. In Richmond, Virginia gay and lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses and were rejected.
Rev. Nate Walker of the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia took a page out of Sarah Palin’s book by preaching a Standing on the Side of Love sermon that was written on his hand.
International Standing on the Side of Love Day was an enormous step forward for the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign. We definitively proved that you don’t need a single issue, goal, or tactic to build a movement. All you need is a singular value that thousands of people will boldly weave into the fabric of their communities. That value is love and boy do we have it.
Don’t forget to check out our photo gallery, to get a sense for how many communities across the nation participated. You can add your photos there as well!More >
My congregation had an amazing service yesterday that focused on Haiti and on standing with immigrant families here in the United States. Community partners from the Haitian Coalition were in attendance. We collected Valentine’s Day cards made by UU Mass Action to send to our legislators for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. People signed up to participate in Temporary Protected Status Legal clinics sponsored by the UUA & UUSC and partners. People also signed up to go as a congregation for a Walk for Haiti in March sponsored by the Haitian Coalition that will raise funds to rebuild schools in Haiti. The religious education classes made valentines for Partners in Health and read Circles of Hope – a story about Haiti. The youth group sold t-shirts for the walk (1/2 the sales go to Partners in Health or you got a free t-shirt if you promised to get sponsors for your walk).
Rev. Fred Small preached a truly amazing sermon on Haiti – managing to give ‘a people’s history of Haiti’ in the context of worship and rousing folks to love and action. Truly standing on the side of love. We sang “Stand” by Amy Carol Webb in the worship service, the choir sang a Haitian ballad, and the congregation sang a calypso Alleluia. At the end of the service after eveyone had a chance to eat Haitian cake in the parlor, speak with our guests (a number of people from the Haitian community came to the service as well as the folks who work at the Coalition) and sign up for the TPS legal clinics and the walk (along with turnng in cards for CIR) – we all went out on to the front steps of the church – holding the Standing on the Side of Love Banner – and singing ‘Stand’ with Rev. Small playing guitar and singing the verses. The moment was magical, folks were filled with love, and passersby stopped to listen and cheer us on. We’re now thinking we could do this once a month around various standing on the side of love justice issues as a form of public witness.More >