For many months now, Standing on the Side of Love and our interfaith and immigrant rights partners have been mobilizing to end the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) mass detention and deportation program with the misnomer of ‘Secure Communities.’ We have been challenging the program at hearings across the country and exposing how it breaks up families and is deporting people whose only crime is that they are living in the United States without ‘papers.’ (Many of the people deported have expired VISAs and have committed no criminal offense.) As a result, ICE announced that they would reform the program, but even with some minor reforms, several states and dozens of communities have refused to join the program. Now the Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce a second round of “reforms” to this disgraced program.
The harsh reality is that the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program is too broken to be fixed. It has deported hundreds of thousands of family members and damaged public safety by making victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes fear contact with police. That is why governors, city officials, congressional representatives, law enforcement and communities across the country have rejected the program (for a list of communities that have rejected SCOMM, see NDLON’s webpage – scroll down).
This is why we continue to demand its immediate termination.
Please send a message to President Obama that the program needs to be once and for all “ended, not mended.”
Sign the petition or call the White House: 202-456-1111.
Script: “My name is [insert name]. I am calling from [insert city, state]. I know that the Administration is announcing changes to the “Secure Communities” deportation program any day now. I want to ask the Administration to “end, not mend” this controversial program. S-Comm has damaged public safety, created fear in our communities, and deported thousands of our family members and friends. We urge the President to abandon his legacy of deportation and end the program immediately.”
For an authoritative report on the devastating impact of S-COMM on our communities see “RESTORING COMMUNITY: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s Failed ‘Secure Communities’ Program published by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and a National Community Advisory Commission (of which the Unitarian Universalist Association is a member).
To join the movement to keep SCOMM out of your community, see our coalition resources and information at: Restoring Trust: Breaking ICE’s Hold on our Communities. Resources include Congregational Toolkit for Immigration Advocacy in Our Communities, 70-minute video webinar, and a map of local interfaith partners.More >
Victory: Bank of America Declares Opposition to Anti-LGBT Constitutional Amendment in North Carolina
Great news from Rev. James Leach, a strong local advocate in North Carolina against Amendment One. The amendment will on the May ballot and, if passed, would ban marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships between same-gender couples.
In partnership with local LGBT advocate organizations, Standing on the Side of Love created a Change.org petition last year urging business leaders in North Carolina, including Bank of America, to come out against the amendment. Almost 3,000 of you signed this petition.
In this recent video address, Bank of America Executive Cathy Bessant announced the company’s opposition to Amendment One. “Amendment One is a direct challenge to our ability to compete nationally for jobs and economic growth,” she said. “Large corporations hate this kind of controversy.”
“I am heartened that, at last, a high level Bank of America executive is using her voice and influence to join those of us who know that this amendment is not only inconsistent with our shared values of compassion, equality and justice, but is also bad for business in our state,” Rev. Leach told us.
This is a great victory, but Bank of America could still do more. According to an article in Stateline, business plays a key role in garnering support for LGBT equality measures. For example, the support of high-profile corporations such as Nike and Microsoft were crucial in the fight for marriage equality in Washington State. In North Carolina, employees of the locally-based VF Corporation, the Fortune 500 parent company of several big-name clothing brands like The North Face and Lee, have been extremely critical of Amendment One. In the words of Stephen Dull, VF’s vice president for strategy and innovation, “If you’re sending a signal to the world that you’re biased, it doesn’t just scare away gay people, it scares away everyone.”
We hope that Bank of America will speak out even more publicly against this measure and any other initiatives designed to infringe on the rights of LGBT people.
Thanks to all of you who signed our Bank of America petition for lending your voice to this effort for justice and dignity. Please share this video, and visit http://www.protectallncfamilies.org for more opportunities to help defeat Amendment One.More >
The message below went out on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
“That this powerful exhibition is opening at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute underscores the reality that freedom to be who you are and love who you love is a human and civil right.”
-Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director, Southern Poverty Law Center
At a time in our nation’s history when society is taking great strides forward on LGBTQ issues, the Deep South still lags behind. Several states in our country have ended marriage discrimination, created civil unions, extended domestic partner benefits to state employees, and passed laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. But none of these laws has reached the Deep South. While there are some supportive municipalities and communities, and countless wonderful people, even now, in 2012, many dear friends feel they are viewed as “less than” because of their sexual orientation.
One such friend of mine, Carolyn Sherer, decided to put her talents to work to change the status quo. She put together a one-of-a-kind exhibit called Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South, providing a unique forum for people to learn about growing population trends among LGBTQ families. Her hope is that the photo exhibit will help erase the fear of discrimination and feelings of ostracism experienced by many Southern lesbian families by empowering them to openly acknowledge the contributions they make to their communities.
Amazingly, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), in the heart of the Bible Belt, and the Birmingham Civil Rights District, has agreed to be the venue for this exhibit, which runs from March 30-June 11. Not only are individuals and families coming out through this exhibit to help empower those who feel the need to stay in the closet—the Institute itself is in a way coming out by simply holding this exhibit. This is the first exhibit at BCRI ever to feature LGBT rights as part of the larger struggle for equality in the United States.
As a native of Birmingham, a lesbian, and a minister, I ask each of you to join me in thanking BCRI for standing on the side of love by offering their hallmark institution as the home for Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South.
Please take a moment and send an email of appreciation to email@example.com. Tell President & CEO Dr. Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr. that through this exhibit he is Standing on the Side of Love and helping to change the lives of LBGTQ people all over the country.
During the 1960s in Birmingham, the battle for civil rights for African Americans was witnessed all over our country. I was in my early teens and lived only a few miles from where the hoses were sprayed and the dogs were instructed to attack. Fifty years later I was on the Unitarian Universalist Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage and walked in the very same park where statutes of dogs and fire hoses are displayed in memory of those times. Across the street, in BCRI, I took a step back in time and read, listened, and visually saw the journeys of the brave men and women who fought for their civil rights. The power of those images was overwhelming. At the same time, my companions and I hungered for a mention of the struggle for equality being waged by LGBTQ Americans. Now, BCRI has taken that very step.
In the Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South exhibit, the participants, all with roots in Alabama, represent a spectrum of diversities in age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Out of fear of repercussions, some participants have posed with their backs to the camera. The powerful, large-format images challenge viewers to consider their own perceptions and biases about how they define family, equality, and community.
Please thank the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for making this bold statement in the name of social justice for all people. You can send an email of appreciation to President & CEO Dr. Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us honor the courage of the BCRI leadership in making this tremendous statement about the relationship between LGBT rights and civil rights through this groundbreaking exhibit.
The message below went out on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters that live in Minnesota. You can sign-up for these emails here.
I don’t think I could have believed, till just that moment arrived when 2,000 people woke up on a cold February morning in 2006, and poured in to St. Paul from all over the region. They were coming to an interfaith rally at the Capitol against a Minnesota marriage amendment to legislate love.
As I stood at the microphone in the heart of the Rotunda, offering words of welcome to this record-setting crowd of gentle, angry people, I really came to believe in the power of people of faith standing for love and signaling a change of heart in Minnesota. I could see the power radiating in the faces of Methodists, Lutherans, UUs, Jews, UCCs, Baptists and more as we called so clearly for faith, for family and for fairness. Our legislative allies told us they could feel it too, and they told us that morning helped shift Minnesota history.
Interfaith organizers like us were successful in turning back the bill championed by then state Senator Bachmann, and for five years our state was in an uneasy limbo. An amendment could come again. But each year more congregations were becoming welcoming, more people of faith were standing on the side of love. How would the balance be struck?
As we now know, despite significant faith organizing, frequent action in the halls of the legislature and thousands of messages and calls to legislators, the five year uneasy truce ended last May.
Now voters will have the question put to them this November: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota? Yes or No. That’s it. Love in the balance, at the tipping point.
We at the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA, which we affectionately say as “moose-jaw”) were central to the 2006 success, and have stayed committed to interfaith organizing for LGBTQ equality ever since. As organizers and advocates, as a public voice for our UU values, it is so important for us to continue to believe, as we have for over ten years now, in the power of faithful voices working collectively for social change. We can proudly and lovingly claim our liberal religious imperative to create a just, sustainable, and peaceful world.
So I’m asking you to take a big step. I’m asking you to take some time off work, or set aside tasks you might ordinarily do on a March Thursday and travel to St. Paul — whether traveling a few blocks or the many miles of the prairie. Again this year, as in 2006, we need your loving presence, your gentle, angry witness for equality and against division, against separate and unequal.
OutFront Lobby Day and our evening Interfaith Community Worship are both Thursday, March 29th in St. Paul. Click here to help move Minnesota voters towards love. Click to be part of the interfaith community voting NO in NOvember on the anti-marriage amendment.
We’ve seen love’s power many times. We believe. I believe. Join us as we signal a big, big change of heart in Minnesota! See you in St. Paul on March 29th!
Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance
The message below went out on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
All across the country, attacks on women’s reproductive rights are in the news. Last week, as we celebrated International Women’s Day and the achievements and power of women, we again found ourselves defending against an onslaught of dangerous, anti-choice legislation proposed by some in Congress. As the Women’s Issues Program Associate at the UUA’s Washington Office, I am asking for your help in standing up for reproductive justice against one of the most offensive, paternalistic, and racist attacks we have seen in some time.
H.R. 3541, The “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” (PreNDA), as it was originally titled, is already moving forward in the U.S. House of Representatives. Introduced by Republican Arizona Rep. Franks and co-sponsored by a host of legislators with terrible civil rights records but impeccable anti-choice records, PreNDA would criminalize doctors and other medical professionals who provide abortions to women who seek care based on the race or sex of the fetus. Not only does this legislation unfairly target immigrant women and women of color based on stereotypes, it would dangerously erode the trust between patients and their doctors and jeopardize women’s health by removing even more providers from the system.
This year is already full of attacks on reproductive choice, immigrants and minorities, so we need to make a strong stand against PreNDA now. Please write to your representative and let them know that you oppose this racist, anti-immigrant, anti-choice legislation as a person of faith.
Click here to send your message.
The UUA and the UU Women’s Federation are two of many faith-based and secular organizations working to defeat PreNDA. As the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights writes in their opposition letter, “We oppose this bill because it does not in any way address discrimination on the basis of sex or race. Rather, it is a veiled attempt to restrict health care for women of color under the guise of civil rights.”
As Democratic California Rep. Judy Chu stated:
[S]ex selection is a real concern, especially in other countries, but the answer is not PRENDA…The Republican co-authors of this bill are engaging in blatant stereotyping. Some immigrants come to this country searching for the freedom that America offers, to have the family of their dreams, and to give their daughters more opportunity to succeed here. Stereotyping immigrants will only cause providers to avoid taking minorities as patients, because of the possibility of criminal liability in a decision on reproductive choice.
The U.S. House of Representatives has never had an opportunity to vote on an abortion bill about fetal race and selection, though it is a type of proposal that is likely to be seen again soon at both the state and federal level. PreNDA has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and is ready to be debated and voted on the House floor.
Please write to your representative today and let her or him know that you do not support PreNDA or the racist, sexist logic that it intends to legislate.
Click here to send your letter today.
Program Associate for Women’s Issues
PS: For more information about the bill, or information about how to organize locally in support of reproductive justice, please email me at email@example.com.More >