After several days of nail-biting inaction, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee has just voted 12-10 to end marriage discrimination in Maryland!
The bill now moves to the House floor for debate and a vote. The Senate already passed the legislation last week, 25-21, and Gov. Martin O’Malley has pledged to sign the bill into law.
On Friday, Feb. 25, SSL Campaign Manager Dan Furmansky was unexpectedly called up to testify before the committee in place of a rabbi who had to lead Friday evening services at his synagogue. He presented the following impromptu testimony before the House Judiciary Committee:
Mr. Furmansky has worked for more than a decade as an organizer for LGBT civil rights, including six years lobbying in Annapolis on this issue, and five serving as Executive Director of Equality Maryland, during which time he worked with the ACLU of Maryland, nine same-gender couples and a widower to bring litigation against the state challenging the constitutionality of denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
While a circuit court ruled in favor of equality, Maryland’s high court ruled 4-3 in 2007 that it was not unconstitutional to deny the protections of marriage to same-gender couples. A few months later, marriage equality legislation was introduced for the first time in the General Assembly. Four years later, marriage equality is on the precipice of becoming the law of the land.
For more information about how you can take action, visit Equality Maryland @ www.equalitymaryland.org.More >
Sun Principe is Social Justice Director for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix and AZ Immigration Ministry. Carlos Garcia is Lead Organizer at Puente Arizona.
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Friday, February 25, 2011. You can sign up for these emails here.
|Salvador Reza and Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray|
On Tuesday, February 22, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, who is well-known for his mean-spirited and inhumane approach to immigration, went one step further in his attempts to squash human rights. Senator Pearce decided that cheering and clapping from a group of immigrant-rights supporters in a hearing overflow room was a threat to Senate “decorum.” In response, he instructed the police that the community members should “be identified, photographed, and… that these offenders be denied further entrance into the Senate.”
One of the community organizers was Salvador Reza, leader of Puente Arizona and partner of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. Sal is deeply committed to ensuring that our laws respect the inherent worth and dignity of immigrants and migrant workers.
When Sal returned to the Senate building for a scheduled meeting with a legislator, he was told by the police that he was no longer allowed inside. When Sal asked to see something in writing banning him from the building, he was arrested and booked on charges of trespass.
Just imagine it: Sal was arrested by police because a political leader who disagreed with him told the police to keep people like him out.
Is this what’s to come in Arizona? In the United States, we can’t let any political leader use police force to silence dissent.
Tell Governor Jan Brewer that arresting people is the wrong way to deal with political debate. Ask her to condemn and reverse the actions of Senator Russell Pearce — and allow everyone to participate in the public debate about issues that affect their lives.
Tensions are running high in Arizona. The Senate is considering more anti-immigrant legislation, including bills that would:
- Chop up the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to children born in Arizona to undocumented mothers;
- Require hospitals to check every patient’s citizenship status, turning doctors and nurses into the immigration police;
- Deny education to undocumented children by requiring proof of citizenship to enroll in any public or private school;
- Criminalize driving by undocumented immigrants, and evict them from public housing.
Senate President Russell Pearce, coauthor of SB 1070, is one of the main proponents of these draconian and inhumane proposals – and he’s the one pushing the police to keep people who disagree with him away from the Senate.
It’s the job of the police at the Arizona legislature to keep those public buildings safe – and it’s right that they have the ability to remove individuals who present a danger to the public and our elected officials. But Sal and these community members are peaceful organizers. They are committed and caring individuals who are standing up for the rights of all and participating in the public debate about critical issues.
Nearly a thousand people from across the Northeast gathered on Sunday, February 27th, despite the snow and cold, for a joyous, two-mile march through downtown Boston to demand that Stop & Shop work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. CIW wants Ahold USA, the company that owns Stop & Shop, to do its part to improve wages and working conditions in Florida’s tomato fields.
The call was for Stop & Shop, to join with Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and other food industry leaders by signing on to the Fair Food Code of Conduct and to pay an additional penny per pound for tomatoes. If the supermarket industry fails to pay into the penny-per-pound program and refuses to condition its purchases on the Fair Food principles recently agreed to by CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, the gains made thus far will be undermined.
UUs voted at our 2008 General Assembly to support CIW’s Fair Food Campaign. A group from First Parish Cambridge UU, Community Church Boston UU, and the Harvard UU Ministry Students came together with Standing on the Side of Love placards and signs in support of the campaign at the march and rally.
In the weeks leading up to the march, CIW leaders visited area congregations and met with the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) board on the day before the march. UUMFE is interested in making connections with CIW as part of their environmental justice work and the UUA’s Congregational Study Action Issue on Ethical Eating. Romeo Ramirez, who has been a CIW leader for 11 years, and who was awarded the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights award for his work undercover to investigate a slavery operation involving more than 700 workers in the Florida citrus fields, met with the UUMFE board and groups from area congregations.
Susan Leslie, UUA Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director, represented the UUA at the rally, and joined other faith leaders in reading a statement from interfaith leaders to Ahold. She said, “Unitarian Universalists are standing on the side of love with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers—with farm workers. Those who perform the backbreaking labor of harvesting tomatoes have historically been among the poorest paid and most-abused workers in America. In recent decades, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has organized Florida farm workers in a successful campaign to secure safer working conditions and higher rates of pay. The success of this campaign depends on the willing participation of companies who purchase the lion’s share of tomatoes from the Florida fields.”
So far, Stop & Shop has refused to come to the table, but CIW says that this action “laid the groundwork for many more actions in the future, until Stop & Shop hears the call of its consumers and meets the ethical purchasing standards established by farm workers in Immokalee, taken up by leading food retailers, and implemented by virtually the entire Florida tomato industry.”More >
On Saturday, massive protests in support of Wisconsin public employees engaged in an historic struggle to save their collective bargaining rights were held in all 50 state capitals.
The following are reflections and footage from from some in our community who are standing on the side of love for worker’s rights:
Rev. Fred Small of First Parish Cambridge UU spoke at a rally at the state house in Boston, telling people:
“As a person for faith, I believe our struggle is political, but it is not primarily political. It is economic, but it is not primarily economic. Our struggle is primarily moral and spiritual.”
Jim A. Jaeger of Madison, wrote:
Yesterday, February 26, 2011, over 70,000 people gathered at the Capitol in Madison Wisconsin to protest Governor Scott Walker’s usurpation of power and attempted destruction of collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Madison Unitarian Universalist Congregations, including First Unitarian Society, James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Prairie Unitarian Universalist Fellowship were all represented. We marched proudly behind the Standing on the Side of Love banner. We appreciate the support we have gotten from around the nation and especially from our fellow UU’s.
This video from Madison was posted by Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson:
Madisonian Abigail Swetz is in the thick of things. Here are her reflections:
I have never been more proud to be married to a Madison Police Officer than these past two weeks. I have protested nearly every day, and my wife has worked nearly every day. Both of us have aching feet and determined hearts. And last week, my wife worked a 12 hour shift, took off her weapon, put on her union shirt, and marched for another 2 hours around and inside the Capitol. She did that 2 days in a row. This entire protest is a labor of love, and if her actions don’t prove that, I don’t know what will.
At times, I feel uplifted by my work in this protest. And at times I feel disheartened. Sometimes I smile and sometimes I cry and sometimes I do both all at once. But if anything, these past two weeks have re-invigorated my faith in the sacred found in every person. Even in the Tea Party supporters. They were vocal, as were we, but no fights broke out, and I even saw some true conversations happening last Saturday, the only day we’ve had counter-protesters. And every time I see a kid holding an “I love my teacher” sign, I think, “We may lose, but this will not end here.”
I know I’m rambling now, but that’s what marching and very little sleep will do to you. On the first Thursday of the protests, I was chanting inside the Capitol when a fellow protester with a bullhorn made his way to the center of the floor. He stood on an upturned bucket and said, “This is being reported by a certain news organization as a violent protest. So I want everyone to turn to your neighbor and hug them.” And so we did. We are truly standing of the side of love.
Joining other state capitols across the nation, Bismarck, ND hosted a rally featuring supporters of workers’ rights.
Interviewees Don Morrison and Karen Van Fossan are members of the Bismarck-Mandan UU congregation, standing on the side of love (and bringing the heat!) in solidarity with Wisconsin workers:More >
On Friday, Delegate Mary Washington testified before her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee for marriage equality.
She is one of seven openly LGBT members of the Maryland General Assembly, alongside Sen. Rich Madaleno (D–Kensington) and Dels. Maggie McIntosh (D–Baltimore), Luke Clippinger (D–Baltimore), Anne Kaiser (D–Burtonsville), Heather Mizeur (D–Takoma Park) and Bonnie Cullison (D–Silver Spring). Del. Washington is also one of only two African American lesbians to serve in a state legislature in the United States.
“As an African-American, same-gender loving woman,” said Washington to her colleagues, “I live within a myriad of historic and present-day systems of inequality. And yet, I prefer to consider my particular viewpoint as an opportunity.”
Watch the video and share it widely. The House of Delegates may vote this week.More >