On Tuesday, May 26th, as the California Supreme Court prepared to release its decision on the lawsuit contesting Proposition 8, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) in California and all over the nation were preparing to attend rallies to bring public attention to the Court's ruling.
The UU Legislative Ministry of California (UULM-CA) helped organize and support over 40 clergy members and many others who participated in civil disobedience in San Francisco. According to Betty-Jeanne Reuters-Ward, project manager with the UULM-CA, at least two UU ministers and several other UUs were arrested for peacefully sitting in the middle of a busy intersection and stopping traffic in protest of the court decision that upheld Prop. 8. This action was organized by UU young adult Claire Bohman, and those participating were trained and supported with food and water by the UULM-CA.
Reuters-Ward says that she has a lot of hope for continuing interfaith work on marriage equality. Many Unitarian Universalists see marriage equality as integral to their belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people and justice equity and compassion in human relations. By devoting their time and energy to supporting actions, such as rallies, protests and holding press conferences, UUs can lead the way for other faith activists to act and speak out for full and equal access to civil marriage for same sex couples.
The activists from secular bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) rights groups were moved by the fact that clergy from a broad spectrum of religious groups were willing to put their bodies on the line to protest Prop. 8. Some of the clergy in attendance spoke blessings, shared their personal stories, and those around them began to smile at each other. The atmosphere of healing and reverence was palpable.
Marriage equality supporters are gearing up for a long campaign that could lead to another ballot initiative in California in 2010 or 2012. According to Reuters-Ward, there’s a growing sense among activists that marriage equality organizations need the strong participation and leadership of religious people as well as the moral authority that their voices bring to this struggle. People of faith who support marriage equality can no longer afford to stay on the sidelines of these debates, but rather they must put their faith and values out front and take a clear stance in the public square.
A diverse, interfaith group of clergy in Washington, DC, is doing just that. At a marriage equality rally in DuPont Circle last week, pastors from the Metropolitan Community Churches and Inner Light Ministries urged hundreds of protesters to keep their opponents in their prayers, to speak out against homophobia and to spread the message that we are all children of God—full of integrity as human beings.
Rev. Rob Hardies of All Souls Church, Unitarian has been working with clergy from many traditions in Washington, DC, to gain support across religious denominations for marriage equality. On June 2, Hardies spoke at a press event held at Covenant Baptist Church. The event was organized by a broad and diverse coalition of over 100 local clergy that released a public statement of religious support for marriage equality in the District of Columbia and around the country.