Please join us in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action–the People’s Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Utilizing a variety of UUA resources and connecting with community partners, the congregation has transformed their social justice program into a dynamic and diverse justice ministry.
Ten years ago, after a Sunday Service, a newcomer asked about the People’s Church social action program and a long-time member answered, “Oh, we don’t do that.” Today, the congregation supports a vibrant social justice ministry, from community organizing and community service, to advocacy at the local, state and national level, and an international partnership. A Standing on the Side of Love banner hangs in the sanctuary and fifty people–-adults, youth, and children–regularly help prepare and serve meals at an interfaith weekly program for homeless people.
The congregation also recently received a Leadership Award from ISAAC, a local interfaith community organization for their role in securing funding from the city and state for early childhood education, as well as bringing a multi-million dollar grant for the Nurse Family Partnership to Kalamazoo. They also lifted up People’s Church for bringing an anti-racism focus to ISAAC’s ministry and applauded their LGBT advocacy in the community.
Read more about People’s Church’s social justice work here.
Click here for more information on the Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action.More >
Tomorrow North Carolina voters will have their last opportunity to vote against amendment one, which would ban marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnership rights for same-gender couples in North Carolina state constitution. The Protect North Carolina Families Coalition has put on a superb campaign, raising diverse voices across the state and country to speak out against the discriminatory, immoral Amendment One. Here is the coalition’s final ad:
Please share this with family and friends in the Tar Heel State. Ask them to vote against Amendment One.
May the arc bend; may justice prevail!More >
This fall, a proposed amendment to the Minnesota state constitution, which bans marriage except between one man and one woman, will go to referendum. Many of the amendment’s fundamentalist proponents justify their views by quoting Biblical passages. In response, Rev. Kent Hemmen Saleska, the minister of the UU Church of Minnetonka in Wayzata, Minnesota, made a video series entitled “Homosexuality and Hospitality” that offers a more welcoming interpretation of these oft-cited verses.
Rev. Saleska says of this project, “I do not believe that anyone needs the Bible to support the rights of people who are BGLT, but with so many conservatives and fundamentalists out there who misuse and misunderstand Biblical passages in order to condemn same-sex marriage and homosexuality, I wanted to offer a faith-based, theologically and Biblically sound response. So in this video, I use many of the same Biblical passages that fundamentalists do, but I offer a different view, a view of welcome and hospitality.”More >
UUA Joins Coalition of Faith & Humanist Groups in Calling on Pres. Obama to Issue an ENDA Executive Order
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations has joined a broad-based coalition of faith and humanist groups in urging President Obama to sign an executive order protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination by U.S. government contractors.
The letter was released today; full text is below.
An Executive Order of this nature would protect millions of Americans who are employed by entities that contract with the government.
To learn more and take action, visit: http://www.freedomtowork.org/?page_id=134
The UUA has advocated for passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for many years, and continues to work for passage of state and local laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. At the 2010 General Assembly, a responsive resolution passed by a wide majority addressing ENDA:
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 2010 General Assembly affirms its commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, including lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals; and
WE FURTHER RESOLVE: To express this spiritual value through our employment practices, educational efforts, congregational life, public witness and immediate advocacy of passage of the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; and
ENCOURAGE: Member congregations and societies to act within their congregations and communities to promote and educate the importance of employment equality for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals.
Click here to read more about the issue.
Dear President Obama:
On behalf of the undersigned groups representing a wide variety of faith and belief systems, including non-theistic beliefs, we write to express our disappointment in your decision not to issue an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited forms of discrimination in the hiring and employment practices of U.S. government contractors.
We believe that no one should face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity: Our various faith traditions and belief systems counsel the treatment of all people with dignity. They inspire us to act with compassion and to work to ensure that all are accorded respect and equal opportunity. Moreover, many of us draw on our experience as members of groups that historically have known discrimination as a reminder of the importance of such anti-discrimination measures as a means of ensuring fairness in employment.
LGBT Americans face significant discrimination and harassment in the workplace, which threatens their and their families’ economic security. Research has shown that up to 43 percent of gay Americans have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment; this number is significantly higher for transgender Americans (90%). Moreover, between 8 and 17 percent of LGBT workers said that they had been passed over for a job or fired as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result of this discrimination, 14 percent of LGBT Americans earn less than $10,000 per year, compared to only six percent of all Americans (Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, Memo to Congressman Barney Frank re: LGBT Equality in Government Contracting, January 13, 2012).
The concept of prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment is supported among Americans of all political stripes. A poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress discovered that almost three-quarters of those asked supported protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace. Supermajorities of Democrats (81%), Independents (74%), and Republicans (66%) all supported anti-discrimination provisions (Memo to Congressman Barney Frank re: LGBT Equality in Government Contracting).
For these reasons, we strongly urge you to reconsider issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination by U.S. government contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
American Humanist Association
American Conference of Cantors
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Center for Inquiry
The Episcopal Church
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Justice Ministries
Institute for Science and Human Values
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Metropolitan Community Churches
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Churches USA
National Minority AIDS Council
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Secular Coalition for America
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism
In February, the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Ohio held an interfaith “Freedom to Love, Freedom to Marry” service attended by over 300 people and described by Robert Rice, Jr., co-chair of the congregation’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), as “a whopping success!” The service was funded in part by a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Freedom to Marry Fund, which gives grants to Unitarian Universalist congregations and groups across the country for work in lobbying, advertising, and educating about marriage equality.
Clergy from seven religious denominations participated including representatives from the Unitarian Universalist, Baptist, United Church of Christ, Episcopalian, and Jewish faith traditions. The service affirmed the congregations’ commitment to marriage equality and gave participants the opportunity to rededicate themselves to a partner or spouse. In addition, a collection taken at the event enabled the congregation to make a donation of over $500 to the Equality Ohio Education Fund.
The planning committee, based primarily out of First UU Columbus, used a multi-prong approach to publicize the event that combined social, print, and mainstream media. Their amazing efforts garnered them an op-ed in Outlook, an interview on the local radio program “All Sides with Ann Fisher,” an article in the Columbus Dispatch, and coverage by the Columbus NBC affiliate.
Rice said of the event, “I would like to thank the Unitarian Universalist Association for the support of the wonderful event. The GSA and the Justice Action Ministry at First UU Church will continue to work towards marriage equality in Ohio.”
You can watch highlights from “Freedom to Love, Freedom to Marry” here:
In 2012, monies have also been donated from the President’s Freedom to Marry Fund to the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland to support a marriage equality prayer breakfast at the height of the legislative session and to the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance to support their organizing efforts against a proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
Get more information on UUA Freedom to Marry grants here.More >