Washington Governor Christine Gregoire announced today that she will sponsor a bill to extend the ability to marry to same-gender couples in her state.
“Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families — making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment,” Gregoire said.
You can view her remarks at the press conference here:
Thank you, Gov. Gregoire!More >
The fireworks went off at midnight. But as soon as the clock struck 12:01 on January 1, 2012, four couples and three ministers (I was proud to be the first officially registered officiant) were busy typing away to register for the first time using the Hawaii Department of Health’s new online system to obtain Civil Union licenses. The system worked perfectly, thanks to a member of First Unitarian Church, Russell Castagnaro, who happens to be the President/CEO of eHawaii.gov.
An hour later, these couples were standing in front of the ministers, exchanging vows and rings with one another, professing their love before each other, their families and the world. In unison, the three ministers proclaimed, “We now pronounce that you are legally partners in life.” The fireworks never stopped, celebrating the joyous joining of people in love.
This was a culmination of several years of lobbying, court and legislative battles, constitutional amendments, and heartaches and tears. But the LGBT community and their allies were unrelenting in their quest for justice and equality in the “Aloha state.” This includes Unitarian Universalists like Bill and Judy Hepfer, who testified before the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, explaining why equality matters for them as people of faith. It included former minister Rev. Mike Young, who wrote op-ed pieces for local newspapers, demanding the state recognize the families of same-gender loving people.
I was proud to have been on the forefront of this debate as well, testifying before the legislature and the governor, and hearing and telling the gut-wrenching stories of couples in love who lacked the protection that other families received. Countless other activists and lawmakers were brave enough to similarly stand on the side of love with us to harness the power of love to counter fear, discrimination, and misconceptions about the LGBT community.
While civil unions is a giant step forward for LGBT families, it still falls short of marriage, so our work is not yet done in Hawaii. But for now, we pop open the champagne and toast to a new day — when love’s many faces and genders can be celebrated in paradise.
The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, is an ordained minister with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). He is currently the Settled Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu and is an active member of the UUA’s Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee.
Jonipher currently resides in Honolulu, Hawai’i and has been with his partner for over 13 years. He enjoys watching cheesy movies, snorkeling Hanauma Bay and composting as a spiritual practice.More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Thursday, December 22, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
My name is Seth Kaper-Dale. I have co-pastored a church in Highland Park, NJ with wife wife since 2001. For the past 10 years I have witnessed the tremendous suffering of Indonesian nationals in my congregation and in 7 Indonesian-speaking congregations in our area. Due to our country’s convoluted immigration system, dozens of asylum seekers are being torn from their families and sent back to dangerous circumstances in Indonesia.
In the late 1990s, large numbers of Indonesian Christians came to the United States on tourist visas to escape religious persecution by some extremists in their majority-Muslim home country. Nearly 500 Christian churches were burned between 1998 and 2004 alone. For over a decade, these asylum seekers have been living, working, and paying taxes in the United States and many have American citizen children.
Now, dozens of these refugees in New Jersey and New Hampshire have received deportation orders. Though all have legally filed for asylum, their cases were closed simply because they missed the one-year filing deadline due to a lack of understanding of the complex process. Massive deportation has already broken up over 100 Indonesian Christian refugee families and now immigration officials will separate more parents from their children and send these individuals back into harm’s way in Indonesia.
Fortunately, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) have submitted a bill, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act, which would allow the Indonesian Christians to reopen their asylum claims and grant them the opportunity to remain legally in the United States as refugees. As Rep. Maloney said, “The United States has long sought to protect refugees fleeing persecution and provide a process to fairly consider their claims. These individuals came to this country, seeking relief from extreme violence and persecution for their religious beliefs, and deserve a chance at asylum. This bill does not, in itself, grant asylum, but merely removes a procedural barrier, keeping these families from being ripped apart.”
Please click here to ask your Representative to cosponsor HR HR 3590, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act. Dozens of lives are at stake.
Please keep these families together and safe by asking your representative to cosponsor HR 3590. If we are a country that values families and religious freedom, it is our duty to help this community of Indonesian Christian asylum seekers. My church cares about lots of issues–affordable housing, interfaith work, food security, green projects, LGBT initiatives…but right now there is nothing more important to us than the work of keeping these Indonesian families together in safety.
Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale
Reformed Church of Highland Park, NJ
We here at Standing on the Side of Love are incensed at comments made on Fox Chicago Sunday by Cardinal Francis George, which we first read about on Towleroad.com.
Apparently, Chicago’s Pride Parade may be re-routed this year in a way that has it passing by a local Catholic parish, which might disrupt its Sunday mass if there are crowds of parade-goers in the streets and sidewalks. We’re all for respectful dialogue about the best way to accommodate all parties’ interests who are along the parade route. But this statement by the Cardinal is simply repugnant:
“You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism,” said Cardinal George.
The Cardinal was challenged by one of the Fox reporters, who asked, “that’s a little strong analogy…?”
“It is,” replied Cardinal George. “But you take a look at the rhetoric. The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who’s the enemy? The Catholic Church.”
Watch the video for yourself, noting the limited choice of images from the very diverse Chicago Pride Parade that Fox Chicago chooses to use.
This is hardly the first time that members of the Catholic hierarchy have stepped way over the line in their choice of language. Still, it never fails to shock us, anger us, and sadden us. And Cardinal George is no outlier. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010. After Illinois passed civil unions, he stated, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”
The real sting is that Cardinal George repeats his tired, defensive posture — i.e. our religious freedoms are threatened, the moral fabric of our society is under seige — to act like a victim being accosted by a malicious gang of immoral marauders who are nothing more than white-hooded members of the KKK.
But it’s the Catholic Church through its Catholic Conference lobbying arms have fought tooth and nail in state after state against sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination laws. Laws that help prevent people from getting fired. Laws that make sure parents can put food on the table for their children. The Catholic Conferences have put millions upon millions into preventing any relationship recognition — marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships — from becoming laws that can protect families in vulnerable times. And they have put millions more into enshrining that discrimination into state constitutions across the land, using rhetoric that is psychologically harmful to LGBT people and our families.
What’s most frustrating is that we know that most Catholics don’t agree with the hierarchy and its rhetoric. Poll after poll remind us that Catholics are more supportive than many other faith communities of marriage equality.
We need outrage from pew-sitting Catholics at the tone of these comments! Cardinal George should apologize immediately for his disgraceful analogy that reduces all of us — you and me, gay and straight, the very faces of the “gay liberation movement” — into nothing more than a hate group.
Get in touch with Cardinal George. Ask him to reconsider his comments and issue an apology. Above all else, approach this conversation with the greatest amount of love you can muster, lest we give credence to his beliefs that “the gay liberation movement” is full of angry hate-mongers. Our issue isn’t with Catholics — it’s with those leaders who use divisive, incendiary language and tactics to suppress an entire group of people and our families.
You can leave a message for Cardinal George through his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FrancisCardinalGeorgeOMI
Or try the Diocese Catholic Information Line: 312-534-8204
Note: It appears that many Facebook comments are being deleted. Another way to reach Cardinal George is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, December 20, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Next week, I’ll head to Cape Cod to celebrate Christmas with my fiancé and my in-laws. I’m excited that the holiday will overlap with Hanukkah and I will bring with me the tradition that is the simple joy of lighting the menorah at the darkest time of year and commemorating the miracle of life itself, as I see it. As I count my blessings – and they are manifold – I include on that list the fulfillment I have leading the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. I find such inspiration in calling myself an integral part of this community, of lifting up your stories, and thinking of ways to work with all of you to make a real difference. Thank you for your partnership, your faith in love and justice, and your genuine, cooperative spirit.
In just a few weeks, we’ll find ourselves in a New Year, and personally, I am really anticipating our upcoming campaign, Thirty Days of Love: The Story of Us, The Story of Now, running from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on January 16 to Valentine’s Day.
For the THIRTY DAYS OF LOVE we will provide you with resources for guided theological reflections, activities for creating a collective vision, as well as opportunities for self-reflection, sharing our stories, lifting up courageous love, and taking concrete actions now as we examine where we go from here.
This past year has opened up tremendous new opportunities. Just last week, Time Magazine named its 2011 “Person of the Year.” The winner? “The protester” – from the demonstrators across the Arab world to the Occupy Wall Street movement that continues to make headlines.
“There’s this contagion of protest,” Time managing editor Richard Stengel said on NBC television. “These are folks who are changing history already and they will change history in the future.”
Standing on the Side of Love is about far more than just protests – it’s about a movement that begins with our selves, and is rooted in our congregations and communities. It’s a movement that translates our faith in a better, more loving world into individual and collective actions with those who are marginalized and discriminated against because of their identity. And yes, it’s a movement of tremendous activism! THIRTY DAYS is a celebration of all of this.
I hope the holidays and New Year will be a time of positivity and renewal for you, as well as for our whole, beautiful, encompassing community.
Standing on the Side of Love