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 >
It sounds reasonable, right? We should deport people who are here illegally if they are involved in criminal activity. But what about Valente and Manuel Valenzuela?
A couple weeks ago, I showed up in downtown Denver at the invitation of some local human rights organizers to be part of a witness outside the courthouse during the deportation hearing for Valente Valenzuela. But when I got there, in the company of Columbine UU Church member and longtime activist Maureen Flanigan, it turned out that at the last minute the hearing had been postponed.
A small number of us demonstrated anyway. We stood with a big sign protesting the deportation of veterans and a poster-sized photo of Valente as a young man, taken during the Tet offensive in Vietnam. There, in the photo, was a young man full of grief and fear, ready to lay down his life for his country—the United States of America—but hoping he wouldn’t have to.
It’s true, Valente and Manuel had both been involved in stuff when they got back from the war. Drugs and alcohol. Both of them were convicted of crimes. But then they went on to live decent lives—working, raising families, the whole nine yards. Today, they are of the older generation. Grandfathers. They still look good in their Marine uniforms.
They are also really, really angry and fighting, once again, though in a different way. They were both put into the deportation process because of those old convictions. According to a law passed in 1997, we need to deport all the criminals. So here they are. This hearing was only the latest in a series stretching back for over two years.
They are not alone. There is even an organization of banished veterans, some in this country and some already deported. There’s something wrong with this picture. Why are we doing this? And what’s up with the scheduling and postponing of hearings? Maybe we’re thinking it over. An organizer who follows this case, Jennifer Piper of the American Friends Service Committee, expressed cautious optimism about the meaning of the postponement. Maybe we don’t actually want to do this. And maybe we can stop.More >
I want to invite you into an experience. Next week, I will answer the call to join members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in a Fast for Fair Food at the Publix headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. The CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian, and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. I have been privileged to serve on the board of their faith-based ally, Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida. Publix, a community-oriented grocery chain (and also one of our nation’s largest corporations), has refused the CIW’s request that they pay an additional penny per pound of tomatoes and sign the Fair Food Code of Conduct to ensure fair treatment in Florida fields. I am fed up with them ignoring the Coalition, as well as my own attempts to reach out and have a conversation. For over two years, CIW and its allies have asked Publix to come to the table and talk about the tomatoes they buy. Yet Publix ignores us.
So at the beginning of March, we fasters will go without food for 6 days to call out Publix for their treatment of farmworkers. I have been at countless faith witnesses, chanting, “Publix, shame on you, farm-workers are people, too!” We have also chanted in spanish, “No estamos solos!” (We are not alone!).
In fact, Trader Joe’s just came on board, making Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s the first grocery chains to sign on to the Fair Food Code of Conduct with the CIW. Coupled with other major advancements in agreements with Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, grocery stores’ pennies per pound would make a remarkable difference to the workers in the fields, perhaps leading into a future where farm workers attain a living wage (the last real increase was over thirty years ago). If chains like Stop-n-Shop, Kroger’s, Giant, Martin’s, and others signed on, quality of life could change for farmworkers. Unbelievably, the last case of slavery in Florida fields was 2009, and cases are still pending.
This is where you come in. While I am at Publix headquarters for 6 days, I want you to deliver a manager letter to your local grocery store chain. Ask the grocery store to come to the table with the CIW, pay a penny more per pound for tomatoes, and sign on to the Fair Food Code of Conduct for safe Florida fields. I have witnessed how the fair food premium makes a difference in a person’s paycheck. But it’s still not a living wage when large grocery chains won’t participate.
Let me know of any actions you do in solidarity during the Fast for Fair Food and don’t forget the power of a good “pray-in” in the produce aisle! I believe this nonviolent, loving Fast for Fair Food can help bring us closer to Publix signing on. The spirit of Love will be among us, with your prayers and your support.
PS: I will be posting on Facebook and Twitter during the fast if you care to stay updated. Find me at @Allison_Farnum. Your encouragement and prayers are welcome!More >
The message below went out on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Ah, Facebook. While it has its downsides, no doubt it is a medium that has truly influenced our lives. I like to think of Facebook as a method of contributing to interconnectedness. It’s no replacement for face-to-face interactions, but it is a way to stay in relationship with so many of those who have touched our lives.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had many requests for Standing on the Side of Love Facebook Timeline covers. For those of you who use Facebook as a vehicle for community organizing, and for sharing your values with friends, old and new, we went ahead and developed four different Love covers for you. All we ask is that you use them with Love!
This is such an exciting time. The Maryland and Washington state legislatures have voted to end marriage discrimination and Govs. O’Malley and Gregoire were champions of both bills. The New Jersey legislature also voted for the freedom to marry, and now advocates are working to override Gov. Christie’s veto. In Maine, the LGBT and allied community is proactively going back to the ballot to seek the freedom to marry. North Carolina and Minnesota are working hard to convince voters not to write discrimination into their state constitutions in May and November, respectively. And yet another federal appeals court has ruled DOMA unconstitutional. In each of these places, Unitarian Universalists are contributing to the changes.
We are building relationships with immigrant justice organizations and actively working to create a more beloved community. We are passing local transgender anti-discrimination measures, and speaking out for environmental justice, for reproductive choice, and against the privatization of prisons. We are also readying ourselves for a groundbreaking Justice General Assembly!
At the heart of all of these activities is our core belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and that no one should ever face marginalization simply because of their identity. Whether our actions are small ones, like sharing the values of Standing on the Side campaign on Facebook, or monumental, like heading to our state capitals to exercise our voices as citizen lobbyists—each action is making a real difference.
So, from us to you, here is just one more tool to help you spread the love. Click here if you want to share Standing on the Side of Love on your Facebook page.
As always, thank you for living the spirit of this campaign every single day.
Our team has been challenged in many ways by the 30 Days of Love campaign, perhaps most significantly by a recent post on the EqUUal Access blog. EqUUal Access is a national Unitarian Universalist group dedicated to educating congregations accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities. The group’s vice president, Carolyn Cartland, wrote an article entitled “Living on the Side of Love–Whether We Stand, Sit, or Recline on a Stretcher” about how the use of the term “standing” in “Standing on the Side of Love” can be alienating for people with disabilities. We also received a copy of Rev. Katie Lee Crane’s thought-provoking “Love is a Verb” sermon on ableism which you can download and read here. We encourage you to take a look at Carolyn’s post and think about how this issue may be impacting folks in your own community.
Do you have stories about how ableism has impacted your life? We welcome blog post submissions–take a peak at our blog content guidelines and email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.More >