On Wednesday June 26 across California, we cheered the demise of Proposition 8 and rejoiced in the new federal recognition of married same-sex couples. What a day! I am still gratefully soaking up this new legal landscape.
How did we get here? In 2004, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California began work on marriage equality. California UU clergy went on marriage equality caravans. "Cottage Conversations" created awareness. We helped to pass groundbreaking marriage legislation and delivered 3,800 handmade Valentines to our governor asking him to stand on the side of love. When the movement turned to the courts, we filed a series of amicus briefs lifting up interfaith voices on behalf of religious liberty.
Finally, love and justice won. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that marriage could no longer be denied to same-sex couples. The weddings began, and same-sex couples gave voice to long-held vows of love and commitment.
Until November. when Proposition 8 passed, and the door was closed.
I know that LGBTQ people are far from the only minority who has been deprived of rights due to the fear of the majority. It was still hard to witness. Dueling lawn signs and arguments over the legitimacy of someone's family damage us all.
We were in the thick of it. Our UULM Action Network had been asked to manage the interfaith part of the "No on 8" campaign. From pastoral care for vulnerable families to clergy witness and relentless phone banks, we were put to the test. As people of faith, we refused to demonize those who opposed us.
While we lost the Prop 8 vote, we "lost forward." We built important capacity for change. Others learned from our loss. State by state, the tide has now turned, creating the conditions for justice. We are so grateful.
Change is incremental. It comes in conversations and court decisions. It comes from young people raised without fear and the bravery of elders. And, it comes by refusing to live in silos - by standing with immigrants, by working for voting rights, by knowing that we are all family.
The Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 provide a huge burst of hope and momentum. Let's use it. This week, the LGBTQ supportive community is needed to advance compassionate immigration reform so that all families can be safe.
Justice is a shared garment. Let's keep weaving the fabric of love.
Rev. Lindi Ramsden
Senior Minister & Executive Director
UU Legislative Ministry of California
Join UUs, LGBT and allied groups, grassroots leaders and families around the state on the day of decision from the Supreme Court on Marriage Equality. Whether to celebrate, mourn or organize, we will need to be together! Find a Decision Day event near you, or organize one and post it.
The map below shows all of the events planned in the state. Plan to attend an event near you or organize one and post it! (Map from United for Marriage: Decision Day):
View map United for Marriage: Decision Day in a larger size.
After the decision is released, follow the dialogue and analysis at SCOTUS Blog, the Supreme Court of the United States Blog.
Prop 8 harms religious freedom. UULMCA and other faith partners in CA filed an interfaith amicus brief in February in the US Supreme Court; the brief argues that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it threatens religious liberty. The Supreme Court decision in both the Hollingsworth v Perrry case (Prop 8) and the DOMA cases will have a profound impact on the rights of LGBTQ people and on our democracy.
Read our Interfaith Amicus Brief before the US Supreme Court.
Many thanks to our attorney Eric Isaacson for his outstanding brief!
For nine years, UULMCA has been blessed Eric's talent and commitment. He has filed amicus briefs that have argued, with great historical grounding, legal acumen and persistence, that same-sex couples deserve equal treatment under the law, and that denying access to marriage for same-sex couples is an issue of religious freedom.
Read a wonderful tribute to Eric's work and partnership with UULMCA published June 13 in the UU World article by Elaine McArdle.
- February 28, 2013
- US Supreme Court - Hollingsworth v Perry
- Interfaith Brief: Prop 8 harms religious freedom. UULMCA and other faith organizations in CA filed an interfaith amicus brief in February in the US Supreme Court; it argues that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it threatens religious liberty.
- Read the UULMCA Interfaith amicus brief.
- April 4, 2011 - Don't Ask Don't Tell - US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Interfaith Brief with the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy supporting the district court's ruling that Don't Ask Don't Tell is unconstitutional. It violates the religious liberty by prohibiting military chaplains from accepting faiths from ministering to the needs of those service members whose faiths accept LGBT people, by excluding LGBT clergy from service as a military chaplain and by condemning the same-sex marriages celebrated in many of America's churches and synagogues.
- October 25, 2010 - Prop 8 Challenge
- Interfaith Brief to US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit in Perry v Schwarzenegger (Prop 8). Arguing that the district court was correct in rejecting religious rationales as a sound basis for Prop 8.
- "Allowing same-sex couples the legal right to marry threatens the religious liberty of Catholics no more than does allowing civilly divorced citizens to remarry in contravention to Catholic doctrine."
- Read the full brief and see the hundreds of signatories.
- Feb 3, 2010 - Prop 8 Challenge, US District Court, Northern CA District
- UULMCA's brief argues that Proposition 8 was enacted to codify religious hostility toward homosexuals and that Prop 8 denies religious freedom. The brief draws on California's historic case Perez v. Sharp which abolished the ban on interracial marriage when an interracial Catholic couple challenged the ban. A couple's right to marry "is protected by the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom".
- Read the amicus brief.
- Interfaith amicus Brief argues that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional - that inalienable rights and equal protection under the law are too fundamental to our system of constitutional government to be subject to the will of shifting majorities. Uses examples of the threat to religious minorites subject to the will of the majority.
- Read the Amicus Brief (2.3 MB PDF)
- In the original 2005 case of Woo v Lockyer , marriage equality was upheld. That decision was appealed. In 2006 it was heard in the appellate court. An extensive interfaith amicus brief was submitted, but marriage equality was struck down by a 2 to 1 decision.
- List of Signers on the 2006 Interfaith Amici Brief
"8" - A Reader's Theater Play
Uncover the truth about marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. See the video of George Clooney, Martin Sheen and Jane Lynch perform a one-night-only benefit reading of “8,” the new play by Academy-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) that chronicles the landmark federal trial of California’s Prop. 8 using the actual court transcripts and first-hand interviews.
Marriage Equality Re-Engage Curriculum
The Re-Engage curriculum provides congregations an indepth opportunity to strengthen their justice ministries. It offers training on having difficult conversations as well as tools for community assesment and media relations.
UUA LGBTQ Welcome and Equality Resources
Curriculum All in God’s Family: Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families
Building an Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit
To Do Justice: A Study of Welcoming Congregations
TransACTION: A Transgender Curriculum for Churches and Religious Institutions
My Mind Was Changed
A New Way to Talk with Conflicted Christians about LGBT People in Church and Society
History of Marriage Letter to Senator Walsh of Massachusetts by Stephen Schloesser, S. J., Assistant History Professor, Boston College Hightlights Catholic social teaching and history in support of the freedom to marry.
Religion and Faith
Human Rights Campaign
Standing on the Side of Love
Standing on the Side of Love is an interfaith public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression. It is sponsored by the UUA and all are welcome to join.
American Foundation for Equal Rights
Legal counsel for Prop 8 case
California Faith for Equality
Marriage Equality USA-California
America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
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