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Called Out eNews-February 2009

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UCC ads offer a pastoral word after Nov. 4

In response to the November passage of four anti-LGBT ballot measures in Arkansas, Arizona, California and Florida, the United Church of Christ purchased full page ads in eight of the country's largest LGBT publications, including the nationally-distributed magazine, The Advocate.

"We stood with you in saying no to hurtful ballot initiatives and we will continue to stand with you, both in disappointment and resolve, until marriage equality is realized," reads the ad, quoting the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president.

In addition to appearing in the January edition of The Advocate, the print advertisement appeared in: Arizona's N' Touch Magazine, Phoenix's Echo Magazine, The Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco, Frontiers in Los Angeles, The Gay & Lesbian Times in San Diego and Miami's South Florida Blade.  Additionally, a coalition of 31 UCC churches in Florida, purchased a full page ad in Central Florida's Watermark.

Combined, it is estimated that the ads reached 500,000 people.

"We felt it important to offer a pastoral word in support of the LGBT community in these communities," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC's director of communications. "So many of our pastors, members and congregations worked tirelessly to defeat these initiatives, and we know there is much disappointment, sadness and even anger that followed the outcome of the elections."

"In this moment of profound spiritual pain and struggle, the UCC, more than ever, sets its resolve toward a not-distant future where justice and fairness will prevail in the full embrace of marriage equality," said the Rev. Felix Carrion, coordinator of the Stillspeaking Ministry, the UCC's marketing and identity campaign. "Our pastoral and prophetic conscience leads us to proclaim in these ads our ultimate bonds of friendship with the LGBT family and our conviction in an undefeatable ideal."

The ads were made possible through funding from the Stillspeaking Ministry and generous contributions from individuals. 

UCC News Story:  California's Prop 8 passage prompts UCC ad

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UCC General Synod joins court cases challenging Proposition 8 in California

The California Supreme Court has announced that it will hear oral arguments on Thursday, March 5 (9am-12pm, Pacific Time), concerning three cases challenging the validity of Proposition 8, the ballot measure taking away same sex marriage rights which was narrowly approved by CA voters in November.  The questions before the court are:

  1. Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution?
  2. Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution?
  3. If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

The General Synod of the UCC has joined an Amicus Curiae brief (friend of the court brief) with both California-Nevada Conferences, the California Council of Churches and others in support of the petitioners claiming that Prop 8 should be ruled invalid.  The Amicus is based on the writ of mandate petition filed by the same Amicus parties soon after the election, but which was deferred by the court. 

The CA Supreme Court generally issues a decision, through a written opinion, within 90 days of oral argument (i.e., by June 3).

Case filings and resources:

UCC News Stories:

Marriage Issues in other States

   Pro-marriage equality

  • Iowa: 
      A case is currently before the Iowa Supreme Court and oral arguments have been heard.  Many feel it is realistic that the court could rule for marriage equality.
  • Maine:
      Bill introduced in the legislature, "An Act to Prevent Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom."  For more information, Equality Maine:  http://equalitymaine.org/
  • New Hampshire: 
      Competing bills, one expand civil union to include full marriage equality, and another to define marriage as a union between.
  • New Jersey: 
      A commissioned studied found that civil union is a 2nd class status and recent polling shows support for changing the law to full marriage equality.  Stay tuned to Garden State Equality for developments.  http://www.gardenstateequality.org/
  • New York: 
      Recognizes out of state marriages.  Possibility of passing marriage equality legislation is real.  The Governor and House are on board and there is a new Democratic majority in Senate.  This could open the door, but it appears that some Senators are not yet on board.  For more information, Empire State Pride Agenda, http://www.prideagenda.org/
  • South Carolina: 
      A civil unions bill, which would give the same state's rights as marriage has been introduced to the legislature.
  • Vermont:
      The Commission on Family Recognition and Protection published a report on April 21, 2008 which found that civil unions are indeed falling short of the promise of fairness and equality.  The legislature is expected to address the failing law in the 2009 legislative session.

   Anti-marriage equality

  • Wyoming: 
      A bill to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman has been introduced in the legislature.

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HRC Clergy Call for Justice and Equality

Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC General Minister and President and Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson will be among the speakers at the second HRC Clergy Call in Washington, DC on May 4 and 5. The theme of this event is "Moving to Acceptance to Advocacy," and will focus on advocacy for transgender inclusion in non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation to be considered by this Congress.

This Clergy Call will follow a series of trainings which have emphasized transgender education in 40 communities around the country. It is a great opportunity for clergy to become more involved in the work of justice for LGBT people and to stay at the forefront in the fight for LGBT equality. We hope that many UCC clergy will choose to take advantage of this opportunity to learn and to make their voices heard.

Online registration is at: http://www.hrc.org/issues/religion/9209.htm.

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Let your Member of Congress know you care about ENDA!

On January 6, Members of Congress raised their right hand and swore to uphold the Constitution as they began the new legislative session of the 111th Congress of the U.S.

ENDA is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Make sure one of the first things they hear about is the importance of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.  Here are three things you can do:

1.  In DC, make their phone ring!

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and have them connect you to your Representative (based on your zip code). Tell them: "I am a constituent, a person of faith and I would like you to please tell Representative _______ that I strongly support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would ban discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

Then, call back and leave messages with your two Senators too!

2.  At home, set up a visit!

Request an in-person meeting for you and other community members with your two Senators and your Representative (or their staffs) in their home district offices. You can call the district offices to request these meetings but they often want you to fax a meeting request. To find contact info for district offices, go to http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/

Check out the following toolkits that contain sample meeting request letters, and other talking points and resources for your meetings:

3.  Let United ENDA know about your meeting!

United ENDA is a coalition of 100s of organizations, including the UCC Office for LGBT Concerns, working to get an ENDA that includes gender identity and expression.  United ENDA is tracking the meetings to learn where this new Congress stands. Click here go to fill out the Lobby Report Form available from United ENDA.  It's the best way to let us know how your meeting went and whether your Representative and Senators expressed support.

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Stillspeaking rainbow comma tees now available

Show your UCC open and affirming pride with Stillspeaking rainbow comma tee.  You can order them online:  http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/identity/tsm-catalog.html

 

 

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Open Letter to Religious Leaders About Sex Education

You have the opportunity to bring an end to abstinence-only-until-marriage education. In his inaugural speech, President Obama called for an end to governmental spending on programs that do not work. Study after study shows that abstinence-only education programs, which have received $1.5 billion in public funds, fail our young people.

Congress will be considering the nation's first federal comprehensive sexuality education in the next few months.  This spring, the Religious Institute will host a congressional briefing on religious support for these public school programs. 

Please take action today.
The Religious Institute is launching a national campaign to obtain thousands of clergy signatures on its Open Letter to Religious Leaders About Sex Education.  

  • Click here to read and endorse the letter, then, forward the information to every clergy person you know, asking them to add their names. 

The Religious Institute is working to collect as many signatories as possible by February 17th to demonstrate strong support from religious leaders for comprehensive sexuality education.

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 Published by the UCC Health and Wholeness Advocacy Office of Wider Church Ministries
Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, Executive
700 Prospect Avenue E, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100
Toll Free (US): 866-822-8224, ext. 3217; Phone: 216-736-3217; Fax: 216-736-3203
email:
LGBT@ucc.org; Web: www.ucc.org/lgbt