As a native Ugandan and life-long LGBTQ activist, it broke my heart to learn that the Ugandan Parliament is poised to once again consider a bill known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” or the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” that proposes jail terms for LGBTQ individuals, including a life sentence or even the death penalty in some circumstances. The bill is likely to pass the Parliament if it comes up for a vote, leaving President Yoweri Museveni’s veto as the only remaining hope that this hate-filled bill will not become law.
Please speak out against this terrible bill. Sign the petition and ask President Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
About 10 years ago, when I first came out to my guardian and, later, to my closest colleagues at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda, I was nothing short of terrified of losing both family and friends. As I had anticipated, declaring my love for fellow women got me my own share of homelessness, verbal abuse, and alienation, even from people I trusted the most. Abandoned as a teenager and forced into maturity at a tender age, I always believed in the transformative power of truth, because the truth, as they say, sets us free. My “coming out” story as a Pentecostal-raised Ugandan lesbian woman mirrors the stories of dozens of other LGBTQ activists in Uganda.
This draconian legislation places LGBTQ Ugandans in grave danger in a country where having an LGBTQ identity is already illegal. In addition to the death penalty, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill requires parents to report their own children and doctors to report their own patients to the authorities or risk jail time. It also undermines the strides that Uganda has made in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention over the last decade. Originally proposed in 2009, this bill has been delayed numerous times due to the brave advocacy of Ugandan LGBTQ activists and international allies. I pray that love will once again win out over hate.
I have been involved with LGBTQ community organizing in Uganda long enough to observe how far we have come and what we have managed to achieve amidst very difficult circumstances. Earlier this year, activists held Uganda’s first Pride parade—may we continue on this path toward justice and equality for LGBTQ Ugandans. Please sign the petition today.
Ugandan LGBTQ Rights Activist
PS: A similar bill criminalizing LGBTQ people was recently introduced in Nigeria. Click here to take action and ask President Goodluck Jonathan to veto Nigeria’s bill too.
The message above went out on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
I am so thrilled to introduce myself as the new Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager. I am humbled by all of the great work this movement has already accomplished and I can’t wait to see where else we can go from here.
I want to hear from you and learn more about what you envision for the future of this campaign. Feel free to contact me anytime at email@example.com to ask questions, share ideas, or just say hi!
Together, let’s put our faith in action and stand on the side of love.
In faith & justice,
Standing on the Side of Love
The message above went out on Friday, November 30, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
In conjunction with Black Friday strikes at a over a hundred Walmart stores, Unitarian Universalists around the country answered the call to show Walmart workers some love.
As people of faith, UUs joined Interfaith Worker Justice in urging Walmart to:
- provide a living wage and affordable healthcare to its employees;
- establish a global responsible contractor policy requiring contractors to provide living wages, worker safety, and labor rights; and
- sign a national community benefits agreement that ensures Walmart strengthens communities, protects the environment, and is responsible for the well-being of its employees in its retail stores and U.S. supply and distribution chain.
In Phoenix, members of the “Standing on the Side of Love Team” at Valley Unitarian Universalist (VUU) joined a numbers of partners in showing their solidarity and support for Walmart workers on Black Friday. Rev. Andy Burnette, VUU Senior Minister, signed the IWJ’s “Call for Jubilee at Walmart on Black Friday” letter, and the congregations board endorsed it as a formal statement from the congregation. Rob Smith and other congregation members brought the letter to their witness, though they were refused entrance into the store.
In his invitation to VUU Standing on the Side of Love committee members, Smith wrote:
“For me, spending a few hours away from my family on this day is a powerful reminder that many folks working at Walmart and elsewhere will not have the privilege of spending this long weekend with their loved ones as I do.”
For more on the Black Friday Walmart actions in Arizona, check out this video from the demonstrations in Buckeye and Tempe:
Across the country, UUs also participated in other Black Friday witness events:
- First Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Terre Haute, Indiana, delivered a letter to their local Walmart manager.
- Ministers at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and Foothills Unitarian Universalist Church in Eastern Tennessee organized with Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee to send an interfaith letter to Walmart store managers in Knoxville, Alcoa, Oak Ridge, Maryville, and Clinton, Tennessee, and to Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas.
- Rev. Jim VanderWeele of Community Church Unitarian Universalist of New Orleans addressed a witness outside of a Tchoupitoulas, Louisiana, Walmart before leading the group to present a letter to the store manager.
- Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota, held a Black Friday worship service.
- Members of Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, Washington, witnessed at their local Walmart.
- The Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, Illinois, continued their support of Walmart workers with Black Friday events.
- The Geneva, Illinois, Unitarian Church also organized with local partners for Black Friday events.
- Rev. Marti Keller of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Geogria, offered a sermon on Black Friday.
- UUs joined a witness at a Walmart in Quincy, Massachusetts.
- UU Mass Action promoted state-wide action on Black Friday.
Did you or your congregation participate? Tell us! See Interfaith Worker Justice’s roundup on their blog–they report organizing over 100 actions of the 1,000 that were held around the country!
This round-up was compiled by Audra Friend, Program Coordinator, Unitarian Universalist Association Multicultural Growth & Witness.More >
The election is behind us, but I’m still smiling when I think of all of the ways love won out at the polls. I’m thrilled that in just a few weeks, same-sex couples will finally begin marrying in my home state of Maryland, and a bill offering in-state tuition for young DREAMers—affirmed by a popular vote—will become law. I’m also really excited by another development that has emerged since November 6th: commitments by both Democrats and Republicans to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. Within our grasp is the promise of a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented individuals in the United States who currently live in the shadows. This is a tremendous opportunity!
The wheels in my brain are turning as I think about all the ways I might work with local congregations and community leaders to push Congress to make lasting, humane immigration reform a reality. Fatefully, National Standing on the Side of Love Month, our Thirty Days of Love, will begin just as Congress reconvenes in January. Our Thirty Days is a spiritual journey for social justice, and the ideal time for us to lift up our voices together for a law that focuses on real people, and on keeping families together.
Please start thinking now about how you can work with your congregation, local advocacy organizations, and migrant rights groups during the Thirty Days of Love, January 19-February 17, to make a difference.
If you belong to a UU congregation, apply for a Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grant now to support your congregational efforts ahead. Click here to learn more about these grants.
The Fund for UU Social Responsibility makes funds available as matching grants of $500-$1,500 to UU congregations participating in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. These grants are an ideal way to augment your social justice efforts during the Thirty Days of Love, whether your focus is marriage equality, anti-discrimination laws, or migrant rights. One year, our UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland received a grant that enabled us to make a video showcasing the breadth of religious support for marriage equality, and deliver the video to every legislator in the state. Another year, the grant supported a prayer breakfast for LGBTQ equality right near the State House, with legislators and press invited to participate.
As the New Year approaches, I make commitments to dedicate and rededicate myself to building the beloved community. I ask myself what more I can do for the underprivileged, marginalized, and oppressed. I love that shortly after the New Year we have a dedicated period called Thirty Days of Love where we actively strive to make the world a better place by centering ourselves, connecting with others, examining where we have been and would like to go, and engaging in sharing the love that speaks to our core values.
Please join me in making commitments now for Thirty Days of Love, January 19-February 17. Learn more about Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grants and make a plan to apply for one today. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. John Crestwell
The message above went out on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.More >
Last year around this time, six-year-old Kyla and eight-year-old Kiera wrote these fabulous letters to President Obama. Through the Wish for the Holidays campaign, they asked the President to end immigration policies that separate families and prioritize keeping families together.
Despite the great work of kids like Kyla and Kiera, 5.5 million children still have at least one parent who is at risk of deportation, and over five thousand children are in foster care as a result of our current immigration system. This year, thousands of children will again participate in the Wish for the Holidays campaign and write new letters to policymakers in Washington, DC expressing one, shared wish: keep all of our families together.
There is still time for the young people in your life to take part in this important work. Visit http://www.webelongtogether.org/wish to get started.
The deadline to submit letters for this year’s Wish for the Holidays campaign is Friday, November 30.More >