The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
On Sunday, over 50 faith communities across the nation stood on the side of love to call for full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
In Denver, people of faith worshipped on the steps of the capitol. In Clearwater, Florida, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of faith shared their personal stories with the media. In Washington, D.C., I marched with over 1,500 people of faith under the Standing on the Side of Love banner at the National Equality March, attended by more than 100,000.
The night before the march, President Obama gave a speech committing to advance equality for LGBT people. The following day I marched step-by-step with thousands of people whose lives hinge on his action. It was astonishing to physically stand with so many beautiful people who are legally less than equal to their heterosexual counterparts. Simultaneously, it was inspiring to be swept up in a movement determined to achieve its goal: full equality in all matters governed by civil law.
I have been following coverage of this weekend’s events in the Washington Post, the Denver Post, the Oklahoman, beliefnet and many local radio and TV stations. The public is hearing our message: in the face of fear, we stand on the side of love!
The Standing on the Side of Love campaign is gaining momentum and it is because so many of you have poured your energy into it. Thank you for your hard work. It is clear to me when I talk to you that this is truly a labor of love.
The Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle is minister of
Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston.
Dear President Obama,
This weekend, you promised an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forbids gay members of the armed forces from revealing their sexual orientation. Please follow through on this promise immediately. I am a retired Navy Commander. I was still on active duty when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was being implemented. Many of us were vocal then that the policy would be ineffective, would force service members to violate their integrity, and would ultimately be counter-productive to good order and discipline, quite the contrary of the policy’s intent. This is an issue of human rights, worth and dignity, integrity, and equality.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, blacks were not allowed to serve alongside whites, until prejudice gave way to the reality that everyone can serve honorably. Once upon a time, not so long ago, women were not allowed to serve alongside men, and then they were not allowed to serve in combat roles. I remember telling my shipmates in the early 1980s that women would be serving fully alongside us before our careers were over. My female peers and their successors have done just that, even though I heard male peers and superiors say “Not in my Navy! Not on my watch!” Prejudice gave way to the reality that everyone can serve equally. Mr. President, make your promise a reality so that we can say, “Once upon a time, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals were not allowed to serve alongside heterosexuals, until fear and misunderstanding gave way to honesty and integrity.” Please follow through on your promise by issuing an immediate Executive Order repealing the policy, and continuing to demand that Congress pass the corresponding legislation. Do the right thing and order each of the services to halt all pending discharges.
As you know, the irony is that glbt soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have been there all along. They’ve been serving just as honorably as everyone else, but have to hide their identities, their partners, their families. They have to guard their every word out of fear of slipping up and risking their careers or worse. I have had dear friends for nearly three decades who have served under these conditions, before and since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I can only imagine the mental stress that this must cause. Please, do the right thing Mr. President.
Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle CDR, USNR (Ret.)More >
Over 100,000 people flooded the streets of Washington DC yesterday, marching for full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Arriving by bus, car, train, metro, bike, foot, and airplane, the marchers expressed exhilaration and commitment. Many wore bright yellow t-shirts that identified them as “Standing on the Side of Love.” Large yellow banners and hand held placards made Standing on the Side of Love a very visible component of the march and rally. The slogan was mentioned in national coverage of the march in the media.
As thousands of marchers made their way onto the west lawn of the US Capitol, founder and head of the Metropolitan Community Church Rev. Troy Perry started the rally by invoking the names of early leaders in the movement for LGBT equality. After reading a letter of support from Bishop Desmond Tutu, Perry recognized other religious leaders on stage for the invocation.
Yet, unlike past marches for equality for LGBT rights, this one was not an all-out push for people to travel to the nation’s capital. The national march was connected to many simultaneous local and state-based efforts for Coming Out Day. Over 50 events were registered on the Standing on the Side of Love website.
In Denver, several Unitarian Universalist congregations held their worship service on the steps of the state Capitol, standing on the side of love for marriage equality. In St. Paul, an interfaith coalition held an event for marriage equality. In San Francisco, people of faith marched across the Golden Gate Bridge carrying a Standing on the Side of Love banner.
Meg Riley, Campaign Director for Standing on the Side of Love, reported, “This was a day of celebration, a time when we could come together and store up strength for the much lonelier, less visible, daily work that makes real change possible. At All Souls Unitarian Church on Sunday morning, the opening choral piece had just one word, repeated hundreds of times: ‘Grateful.’ That sums it up!”More >
Story submitted by Sandy Kroll, member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach
Two hundred Long Beach, California, residents gathered at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Hall on August 31st to Stand on the Side of Love at a community forum on health care and immigration reform. The evening heat and non-air conditioned hall did not stop people from congregations and ethnic communities across the city from coming on behalf of people who are deprived of health care and people who are exploited because of their immigrant status.
The forum was put together by members of the Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), an affiliate of the PICO National Network of mostly faith-based organizations. The Rev. Marguerite Lovett acted as moderator of the forum during what were her final few hours as minister of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Long Beach before her official retirement date. Rev. Lovett was instrumental in establishing ICO, and has served on its board ever since the organization’s first days.
During the forum, Ramon Mendoza spoke of paying over $900 a month on health premiums and out-of-pocket expenses to fight cancer. Reina Mansilla shared that she has never received health insurance from her employer, even though for the last seven years she has worked as a long-term custodian for the Long Beach Unified School District.
Immigration testimony was given by people being threatened and exploited by labor contractors, and by a mother in the heart-breaking position of seeing her son complete high school here in Long Beach only to be unable to get employment because of his legal status. Neary Nuth told of risking her life to get her son out of Cambodia in the 1980’s, only to see him facing deportation back to Cambodia for minor offenses as a teenager. Questioners asked how our Representatives in Washington, D.C., will help fix our broken immigration system.
All that was missing from the event were our Congress members, Rep. Laura Richardson and Rep. Linda Sanchez, who can actually do something about health care and immigration reform. Questions had to be directed at empty chairs. Even their staff members who had promised to attend failed to meet with the two hundred local residents on that hot August night. Despite that disappointment, Long Beach residents freely extended their love and concern for those who are mistreated or overlooked by the systems that could help them.More >
As a gay teen being raised in rural Northern California in a fairly conservative area I was alienated from religion. Having a faith or religion and being gay were completely incompatible in the culture of my high school. Until Ellen DeGeneres “came out” via her sitcom I had absolutely no queer role models; people who were out, proud, and living happy lives who I could look up to, and certainly no queer or allied clergy. I thought being gay meant I could never have a religion, until I found Quakerism.
Quakerism gave me a spiritual community which accepted me as I was, which I soon found to be a crucial part of my spiritual journey. As a religious community Quakerism became both a refuge and grounding for my political work as I got older, and where I first learned to articulate the language that every person has inherent worth and dignity. I sometimes think it is ironic that spirituality, the very thing which alienated me, also had the power to affirm and protect me.
The world of being a teenager in the closet was hard to describe. I try to tell people I felt as if I was trying to swim with one hand tied behind my back. I strongly believe Standing on the Side of Love is about younger people growing up without the paralyzing silence I had to grow up with. It is about finding that ground beneath our feet on which to stand up for our principles. I’m talking about the concrete instances of oppression that Standing on the Side of Love resists, because it is when we are confronted with hatred and intolerance that we find out what we are willing to do for our principles. I have found in my own activism that this process of taking action is a healing one.
My first reaction to hearing about Standing on the Side of Love was this: it’s about time. Rev. Meg Riley, who I have had the privilege to work with, explains that SSL, “reaches through Unitarian Universalism to everyone.” It’s about time faith stopped being a tool used to cast people out, but a shield to protect them. I am happy and excited to be part of that, as well as part of such a dynamic and brilliant team. I look forward to hearing from you via our Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Website, and to telling our story in a way that reaches through all our faiths, to those who are still trying to swim with one hand behind their back.
Yours in the light (as the Quakers say),