“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
I’m sure the walls of the Supreme Court’s building were built to withstand the roar of a crowd. I’m also fairly confident that, unfortunately, the nine justices inside couldn’t hear our dance party, our chants for justice, and the noisy conflicts between those for and against marriage equality. Nonetheless, the steps of the Supreme Court felt like a very important place to be. As the Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, hundreds gathered on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to send a message to the world: Marriage is a right that should be available to all people who love each other.
With two full-size Standing on the Side of Love banners and prime real estate on either side of the road in front of the Supreme Court, Unitarian Universalists showed up in numbers. I had a great time chatting with UUs from around the region about why they had taken the morning off work, why they decided to take their kids out of school for a few hours, and why marriage equality is important to them.
As a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Witness Ministries team, one serious perk of my job is the opportunity to live our faith – live our love – out loud. I was proud in ways I can’t fully express to know that our entire faith community was behind us. We arrived in numbers because of our faith, not just in spite of it, because we know that love and sexuality and diversity are sacred gifts that draw us together into more full humanity. My day-to-day work on reproductive justice gives ample opportunity to live into this call of ours, but it was truly a special few days at the Supreme Court, to publically offer Unitarian Universalism and religious and spiritual affirmation to the movement for justice and liberation for all people who love each other.
I was also very proud to be holding up a corner of the Standing on the Side of Love banner, especially during the tense moments that the National Organization for Marriage rally paraded down the street between the pro-equality crowds.
“2, 4, 6, 8! Kids do better with love, not hate!”
They had a permit for the street, and we were crowded onto the sidewalks and the public space in front of the Court. The SSL banners had front-row seats as the NOM supporters marched by – one of our banners even got in front of the NOM rally! – and it was unnerving to look into their faces and signs. We were literally standing on the side of love. We were also standing on the side of justice and the right side of history. As much as I feared their bigotry, I felt sorry for the NOM marchers. It must be so much less fun to be fighting a losing battle for discrimination than propelling forward a movement all about love.
Speaking of love, this post would be incomplete if I didn’t give a shout out to the folks near us who were witnessing at the intersection of immigration reform and LGBTQ advocacy. We were lucky enough to stand right next to them at the Supreme Court and offer our support and cheers, as the Standing on the Side of Love campaign has before. Their presence was a great reminder that justice is interconnected, intersectional, intertwined.
This post was written by Jessica Halperin, a lifelong Unitarian Universalist from Pittsburgh and the UUA’s Witness Ministries Program Associate. Jess holds the environmental justice and reproductive justice portfolios for the UUA.