Dr. James Madsen, from conservative Harford County, Maryland, testified on Feb. 25th before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee for marriage equality.
Dr. Madsen is a board-certified physician, an associate professor, a full Colonel in the U.S. Army, a combat veteran from Iraq, and will be deploying to Afghanistan this fall. He has been married for 35-years, has three children, and was raised as an active member in the LDS church.
Hear why he supports marriage equality.More >
The day after the Maryland Senate voted 25-21 to end marriage discrimination in Maryland on the basis of gender, the House Judiciary Committee took up the issue. Six LGBT elected officials testified yesterday for the Civil Marriage Protection Act.
Hear their words.More >
The UUA is asking for your support for public sector workers. As you know, Wisconsin has become the flash point for maintaining collective bargaining rights for public workers. This is an historic moment for workers and those that support them.
The news in Wisconsin is happening in lots of other states. Interfaith Worker Justice, of which the UUA is a member, is asking for your help to garner broad religious support for workers on this issue.
Please join UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and sign on to IWJ’s Open Letter from Faith Leaders: Stop Attacks on Public Sector Workers and Unions. To sign on, visit: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1035/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5946
Below is an excellent open letter from Rev. Colin Bossen, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland with more about this issue:
We are called as religious leaders to support public employees who are fighting to preserve their collective bargaining rights. To understand why, we need to look no further than the example of Martin Luther King, Jr.
When King was assassinated he was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a sanitation workers strike. The slogan those public employees adopted for their struggle was “I am a Man.” The struggle in Memphis was about human dignity and human rights far more than it was about money. The sanitation workers in Memphis were fighting for their right to bargain and the recognition of their union. They knew without these things, the mayor of Memphis would not treat them as human beings deserving of respect and dignity. He would treat them like chattel consigned to marginal pay without the prospect of job security.
King understood that the key issue in Memphis was human dignity. He urged religious leaders to support the struggle by marching, speaking out, organizing economic boycotts and engaging in civil disobedience. Religious leaders have moral authority. That moral authority should be used to work for justice.
The struggle today in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and other states is the same as it was in King’s day. Public employees are fighting for human dignity. Collective bargaining rights stem from the rights of assembly and free speech. An assault on collective bargaining is an assault on human rights.
It is also an assault on our democracy. Any society that does not afford its citizens human rights does not deserve to be called a democracy. Without human rights it is impossible for citizens to make their views known or participate in society’s decision making process.
Some of you have probably heard that this struggle is about fixing state deficits. It is not. In Wisconsin, the state’s immediate budget shortfall stems from the legislature’s recent decision to cut taxes. In Ohio stripping public employees of their rights to bargain will not demonstrably save the state money. When confronted with this fact State Senator Shannon Jones, the sponsor of the legislation, was asked why she wanted to pass it. She replied, “It’s my philosophy. We think that public employees should not have the rights that they have now.”
Larger issues are at stake. If we religious leaders are to continue to have moral authority in our communities we must speak up in support of public employees right to collective bargaining. In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. If our principles are to be more than hollow words we must stand up for human rights when they are threatened.
As in King’s day, there are many things we can do to support the struggle of public employees. We can reach out to labor unions and let them know of our support. We can work with solidarity organizations like Interfaith Workers Justice (www.iwj.org) and Jobs with Justice (www.jwj.org). We can write letters. We can preach sermons and hold teach-ins to educate the members of our congregations and the public. We can march and rally, and if the time comes, we can engage, like King and his generation, in non-violent civil disobedience.
Towards the end of his last speech in Memphis, King preached: “Let us rise up… with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.” Today, as in 1968, the challenges we face present us with the opportunity to make America a better nation. Don’t be silent. Don’t be absent. Let your voice be heard.
The Rev. Colin Bossen
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland
Rev. Colin Bossen
Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland
“There are times when you have to do what is right. We are here not just be representatives, we are here to be leaders. If I lose an election over this vote, so what?”
- Maryland Sen. Ron Young, a Democrat who narrowly defeated notoriously anti-gay state Republican Sen. Alex Mooney in last November’s election, and last night cast a vote to end marriage discrimination. The Maryland Senate passed marriage equality 25-21 with Sen. Young’s vote.
Dan Furmansky is the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager.
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Thursday, February 24, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
It is a fantastic day! Today, the Maryland Senate voted 25-21 to end marriage discrimination. The marriage equality bill next needs to pass the House of Delegates, and then it goes to the desk of Governor Martin O’Malley, who has pledged to sign it. This is an exciting step forward, and in an era where legislators in several states are attempting to roll back protections for LGBT people, it’s a moment to pause and celebrate.
Our momentum in Maryland is just the beginning. By now, you have likely heard that the Obama Administration announced that it will stop defending the indefensible federal “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in court – specifically, the section that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.
If we succeed in adding Maryland to the roster of states with marriage equality, it will bolster our chances of putting an end to DOMA once and for all. Do you see those dominoes wobbling?
Help us capture this momentum! You can add your voice to the call for marriage equality in Maryland and across the country, right from your own home. Our great partner, Equality Maryland, is seeking individuals to host phone banks from anywhere in the country in support of marriage equality and transgender civil rights legislation.
Find out how you can help Equality Maryland’s phone campaign from anywhere in the nation by sending a quick email to Equality Maryland’s organizer, Aimee. You simply need a computer and a phone.
The UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland and local clergy and congregations are doing tremendous work here. These courageous leaders have already hosted a press conference for people of faith, delivered more than a thousand Valentines cards to legislators, testified for the bill, and produced a video showcasing faith support to give to legislators. They are also housing organizers in their congregations, and working those phones to find volunteer support.
I’ve seen their amazing work first hand – I’ve spend the past two weeks on loan from the Standing on the Side of Love campaign working full-time in Annapolis to provide assistance to Equality Maryland, the state’s LGBT civil rights group, and an organization I myself led for five years. Working closely with our allies on this bill is a fulfillment of Standing on the Side of Love’s mission to make a real difference in contributing to the LGBT civil rights movement.
You can make a difference too – right from your own home surrounded by friends and family. Help support the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign’s efforts in Maryland by hosting a phone bank in the next week – email Aimee to find out how.
Help us build on this tremendous momentum and topple marriage discrimination!
Standing on the Side of Love