This fantastic note comes from Theresa Novak of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, Utah.
Note from Cora’s mom:
We may have a budding activist on our hands. All the students in Cora’s class were asked to write a letter to the President; most asked questions like “what’s your day like?” and “how’s your dog?”
Not our Cora!
She asked President Obama to help Ogden pass the Non-discrimination ordinances!More >
Religious leaders of many Houston-area churches hosted special services to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens and their parents into their congregations on Sunday, Feb. 20.
This historic ecumenical effort brought together affirming churches, including Covenant Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, and Quaker congregations.
It all started in the “corner forum” of Northwest Community UU Church, when they exchanged ideas about what they could do to celebrate National Standing on the Side of Love Day. Broken-hearted over the suicide of a gay teen from their part of town, they asked, “What if we made a special invitation to LGBTQ teens and their parents to come to our church?”
Allied with other welcoming churches, the event spread across Houston.
The website for this event — http://bringyourgayteentochurch.com — hosted by the Houston Clergy Council, corrected the misconception that religion automatically condemns homosexuality.
It read: “All of the churches listed on this website are welcoming, affirming, inclusive churches. We don’t believe homosexuality is a sin, nor do we believe your teen needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘changed.’ We think your child is a miracle. Just the way they are.”
The event was widely covered in the media. The Houston Chronicle article was the most read story for most of Saturday, and feeds from the story were picked up by many local newspapers, religious news sites, GLBTQ websites/newspapers, Huffingtonpost, and Christianity Today. The story received at least 100 retweets and was picked up by many bloggers.
The Houston Chronicle reported:
“We think it’s important for families to know there’s a safe place to go to worship,” said Jim Bankston, senior minister at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “Families who have gay members want to make sure they feel welcome in church and aren’t bashed in any way.”
Joanna Crawford, a seminary student at the Houston Graduate School of Theology, said the idea came up after the suicide last fall of Asher Brown, a Cypress-area eighth-grader who killed himself after what his parents said were years of bullying and taunts that he was gay.
“We don’t need a special day,” said the Rev. Adam Robinson, assistant minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston. “The GLBT folks are welcome every day.”
Proclaiming a special day is mainly a way to spread the word, he said.
“It’s for the parent who doesn’t know what to do with their teen that is experiencing a different sexuality, who is wondering whether they’ll be accepted in a faith-based environment,” Robinson said.
When my long-awaited sabbatical began, a year ago, the first thing I did was come ‘back to work’ to perform 10 same-sex weddings on the first day they were legal in Washington, DC.
The attorney general of Maryland had just issued an opinion that such weddings would be legally recognized in Maryland, home to my congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring. I thought of all the same-sex couples in our church who deserved this and who had been denied this and I was darned if I was miss out on being there to officiate and celebrate with them all, their marriages at long last. It wasn’t hard to come back – it would have been hard, no impossible, to stay away.
I don’t think words can describe the anticipation, the joy, the pride, the sense of unity that filled us all on that extraordinary, long, fantastic day. Our founding congregation, Universalist National Memorial Church, hosted the ceremonies in the District. I feel I should say that I don’t recommend doing 10 ceremonies back-to-back over the course of 5 hours. But I do. The whole time the weddings were going on, one long, evolving reception was also going on one floor below, as each couple was married and came down for their own ‘first dance’ song, and refreshments and celebration. Many people came for one wedding’s reception and stayed the whole time, renewed in joy as each new couple came to put their own mark on the party. It was unforgettable. It was historic. And it was defining moment for all of us at the UU Church of Silver Spring.
Now a year later, we are about to celebrate the one-year anniversary of those weddings. This Sunday, February 27, members who were married that day will share with us what the day was like, what it meant to them, what it changed for them or preserved for them. And incredibly, for this congregation that has made Marriage Equality one of its primary social justice commitments, even as we celebrate this historic anniversary, our own state’s representatives are voting in the next few days whether to pass Marriage Equality in our state. We have fought so long and hard for this. Last week on Valentine’s Day, our church sent 89 people to the capital to lobby for this. We host a phone bank each Wednesday night. Now, perhaps by the time of our anniversary service just a few days from now, we will have won this long legislative struggle.
I am more proud than I can say of this congregation’s love and commitment. And I am just as proud to be a Unitarian Universalist and part of a faith that stands and works so powerfully for love. Never think we can’t make a difference. Never think we can’t move mountains. Look at what we do, what we mean, together.
In gratitude and pride,
Liz Lerner Maclay
Senior Minister, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring
Silver Spring, MD
On Feb. 26th, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring will celebrate a year of marriage equality for 10 same-sex couples who live in Maryland and were married in Washington, D.C. in 2010.
Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay and members of the congregation organized the weddings after the Maryland’s Attorney General issued an opinion that the state would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The weddings were performed at the Universalist National Memorial Church, with the support of Rev. Lillie Mae Henley and that congregation, on the very first day such weddings were legal in the district.
On Sunday, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring’s morning worship services will commemorate those weddings including reflections from some of the people who were married a year ago. Though this congregation is working strongly for Marriage Equality, and some Maryland legislators are expected to attend, this service will not be a political action but instead a spiritual reflection and celebration of love.
Services are at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the church, located at 10309 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20903. For more information call Rev. Maclay at 202-253-0053.More >
Things are heating up in the Old Line State, also known as Maryland, also known as the Free State.
After years of working to end marriage discrimination, equality is finally in sight.
Unitarian Universalists are playing a leading role in these efforts. Two weeks ago, the UU Church of Annapolis hosted a press conference for interfaith leaders, announcing support for the legislation.
Rev. Lisa Ward of the UU Fellowship of Harford County presented testimony on the bill in the State Senate, telling legislators:
I stand with many colleagues, of many faiths, who know God’s presence is in the dignity, freedom and fidelity of loving couples and recognize same-sex marriage as equally sacred to heterosexual marriage.
On National Standing on the Side of Love Day, the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland delivered more than 1,000 Valentines to legislators asking for their support of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.
Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager Dan Furmansky is working full-time to help Equality Maryland prepare for the Senate vote and the hearing in the house.
The UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland applied for a Standing on the Side of Love grant to augment their efforts to reach legislators. Here is a video initiated by the UULM that they are sharing with legislators and faith communities:
Rev. John Crestwell of the UU Church of Annapolis is preparing to testify this Friday during the hearing in the House of Delegates.
Stay tuned – the Maryland Senate will likely vote up or down on the marriage bill by the end of this week!More >
Post by SSL Camaign Manager Dan Furmansky
Earlier this week, I posted footage from a rally in Annapolis for LGBT civil rights that I was honored to speak at, and I let you know that I have moved Standing on the Side of Love campaign headquarters from Boston to Maryland for a few weeks. My goal is to devote significant time on behalf of our campaign to important efforts here.
In addition to the excitement building around a vote for marriage equality taking place in the Maryland State Senate next week, there is also growing support for the Maryland DREAM Act. Many of the same leaders in the General Assembly working for marriage equality and transgender anti-discrimination laws are also sponsoring this important legislation.
This video is from a press conference yesterday preceding the bill hearing. Hear from legislators, clergy, and DREAM’ers about why this proposed law is so crucial.More >