About the Author
UUA Social Justice

Freedom to Marry – Our Faith Demands It

Rev. Keith Kron is the Director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns at the UUA. A graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry, he spent nine years as an elementary school teacher in Lexington, KY. He collects children’s books and plays tennis.

I grew up pretty much like a lot of folks. I was repeatedly reminded to tuck in my shirt, or at the very least, untuck all of it. I went to church. I anxiously awaited my new copy of Sports Illustrated in every Friday’s mail. I vegged out by watching M*A*S*H* and way too many reruns of Gilligan’s Island. I was taken care of by parents who assured me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be and would some day fall in love and get married.

My parents, like so many, did not know they were lying. Like most people they assumed I would fall in love with a woman and get married. At 14, it would be my subscription to Sports Illustrated that would be the awakening of a different reality.

Sitting on my grandmother’s couch, looking at the pictures of the Boston Red Sox’s two star outfielders, Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, it hit me. This wasn’t just admiration, it was a crush. And there went my parents’ promise out the window. At the time I didn’t worry about whether or not I could get married, but whether or not I could keep quiet about my sexual orientation and avoid harassment, violence, institutionalization and deprogramming until my adulthood. Then perhaps I could find my center fielder and live a quiet life with my “best friend.” That seemed the best I could hope for in 1975 in Kentucky.

Now, I hope for more. Youth still get harassed, attacked, institutionalized, and “deprogrammed”, but there are also role models of couples who’ve gotten married in several states and Canada, gay characters on television and in the movies, and a far greater acceptance than I might have thought would ever be possible at fourteen.

It’s progress. But progress is not equality. And it won’t happen until full marriage is welcomed for same-sex couples.

The current marriage debate hinges for me on two arguments:

1) Marriage is about love.
2) People should be treated equally and fairly.

The first statement is a newer thing. Shakespeare was way ahead of his time. Throughout most of human history, marriage was an arrangement between families, often as much about how many goats a family might get through an arranged marriage (or whatever might make families more prosperous) and rarely about love. In these times, which still exist in parts of the world, sexual orientation really didn’t matter. You weren’t marrying because someone caught the glimmer of your eye and stole your heart. You married because it was arranged. In some places where it wasn’t about money, people didn’t even bother to get married.

But somewhere along the line, marriage became about the heart—and not just the Disney kind, but the kind where a person agreed to be with someone over time, to take care of the other person, to be a constant. That’s been a common belief here in the United States for over 100 years.

The second statement is also a newer thing. Even our constitution says “All Men are created equal.” It’s only recently that many of us have begun believing in the value of treating all people equally because we are inherently equal. Women, people of color, people with disabilities and many others still face inequality.

Yet if you believe that this is the goal and if you believe that marriage is about love, then how can you not support marriage for same-sex couples?

When I realized my crush as a 14 year old, one of the leading arguments against equal rights for women was that it would permit same-sex couples to marry. But Unitarian Universalism was already coming from a different place. In 1975, our faith had created, funded, and staffed a small office to do work on homophobia. We had passed a resolution supporting nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and had included the issue in our sexuality education for youth. Now some 34 years later, we see the results of this in our congregations and in our lives. Actually, some of our ministers even began performing ceremonies for same sex couples before 1975.

A current look at what 34 years of work on homophobia has reaped. We have many valued openly b/g/l/t ministers, welcome families with same sex parents, over 60% of our congregations explicitly welcome b/g/l/t members, and they were instrumental in helping to legalize same sex marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Our congregations have grown and prospered. Our children are not only unharmed by this, but now they understand that children can grow up in families with all kinds of parents. As one UU college student put it, after being asked why she was supporting the rights of b/g/l/t people, “I grew up a UU. It’s my religion.”

The sky has yet to fall, not only in Unitarian Universalism but also in Massachusetts. The only difference one can see in Massachusetts since the 2004 beginning of same-sex marriages is that my beloved Boston Red Sox have won not one but two World Series. (The Patriots and Celtics also have championships since 2004.)

In fact, our families seem to be strengthened by having same-sex couples and b/g/l/t people in our midst, where children can talk about loving their two dads or their Aunts Jane and Lisa. Our youth are less anxious about sex and sexual orientation and more likely to talk about loving someone, and our adults are advocating for full equality for all people.

During Freedom to Marry Week, each of us can speak out in conversations with neighbors and friends, at work and with our families about marriage being about love and equal rights for all people—working toward a day when we can truthfully tell all our children that they will some day grow up, fall in love, become a responsible adult, and get married.

It’s our religion.

Sign the Marriage Resolution

Rev. Ricky Hoyt is a Unitarian Universalist minister, author, and spiritual director serving a congregation in the Los Angeles area. You can read his blog and find out more about his ministry on his website. He is pictured below with his husband, Peleg Top.

I’m not the type to sign online petitions. I don’t add my name to open letters, at least not very often. I don’t forward “this important message” to all of my friends. I seldom call the governor’s office and punch numbers on the automated phone system to register my support or outrage about some crucial issue. I’ve almost never written a letter to my congressional representatives, except in those cases where someone at the social justice table at church has made it ridiculously easy for me.

Spiritually I just don’t want to get that worked up. I have a limited amount of passion and resources, and I don’t want to squander them by keeping myself anxious about everything day after day, week after week. Spiritually I’d rather take a walk outside, enjoy the sunshine, or the rain. I’d rather think about theology than legislation. I’d rather read the newspaper than the latest emotional plea from a non-profit, social justice, advocacy group in my inbox. The truth is I’d rather take a nap than go stand on a street corner with a sign. I’d rather stay at home, sitting on the couch, watching Grey’s Anatomy with my husband.

So I understand people’s reluctance to get involved in the marriage equality movement. It happens to be an issue close to my heart (see the above reference to sitting on the couch with my husband) but I hardly expect the same issue has risen to the top of every person’s social justice agenda. But I’ve also learned something concerning this issue that makes for very effective social justice action and that fits very well with my reluctance to add my name to lists and forward petitions and contact my elected officials.

I’m absolutely convinced that the greatest contribution I have made to the marriage equality movement is that I have been openly gay, openly partnered, and openly in support of this issue. I’ve shown people who know me: my family, friends, people at the church, even sometimes people I barely know at Starbucks and the gym and the barbershop, that I’m a person who knows about this issue and cares about this issue in a personal way because it’s actually about my life, not some abstract principle. I have also, on this issue, taken more deliberative and pointed actions in support of marriage equality. But more effective than any of that, I’ve simply lived my life as a married gay man (sitting on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy and so on) and whenever it was natural and appropriate I wouldn’t be shy about letting people know about me and see that side of my life.

It’s a lot easier to be against “gay marriage” than it is to know me and be against “Ricky’s marriage.” It’s hard to match any of the rhetorical arguments against marriage equality with the actual experience of knowing me and my husband and who we are and how we live our lives. So I don’t sign online petitions but I do have a website for my ministry where you wouldn’t have to search too long to discover I’m a married gay man, and I’m happy to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. I don’t sign open letters or forward emails to all my friends, but I am who I am on my facebook page and when I send an email to my friends and it mentions my husband they know who that is and why our marriage is important and worth protecting. I don’t call the Governor very often but I call my folks every week and I ask about their marriage and they ask about mine.

I hope a lot of people are spending this week writing and calling and speaking out and marching or sitting and forwarding and adding their names and so on. God bless you. If you’re the type, here’s a link to an online resolution that the Freedom to Marry folks are encouraging everyone to sign and email to their friends. Do it. I did. It wasn’t too hard and I didn’t have to get too worked up about it.

But also consider outing yourself as a marriage equality supporter and using all the regular places that you call and write and stand and speak out to announce your position on this issue. Don’t shove it down anybody’s throat but find a way to bring it up. “You know I actually know a gay couple who got married last summer.” “I can’t for the life of me imagine how anyone could object to my friend’s marriage.” “My church married a lesbian couple last month and it was beautiful.” Update your face book status to say, “… is celebrating Freedom to Marry week.” Write a blog post about the lesbian couple who lived down the street from you when you were a kid. Get a new bumper sticker supporting marriage equality and stick it over that John Kerry bumper sticker that won’t come off.

Then go watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Rev. Cain Publishes Letter Supporting Stimulus Package

Rev. Cynthia Cain, minister of the UU Church of Lexington, published a letter-to-the-editor in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Saturday calling on the Senate to pass the economic stimulus package. She used some of the statistics within the Washington Office’s letter to the Senate calling on them to Right our Moral Balance.

The stimulus package is expected to be voted on today or tomorrow. Once voted upon, it will go to a conference committee made up of leaders from the Senate and the House of Representatives. That committee will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The reconciled bill that emerges from that committee has to be approved by the full House and Senate before going to President Obama for his signature.

Congress returns to their home districts this Friday for a week long in-district work period. It is essential that they complete this work before Friday!

Now is a crucial time to write letters to your local paper calling for your members of Congress to finish work on the stimulus package so that America can get back to work. The Washington Office for Advocacy has a resource offering many useful tips on writing a letter-to-the-editor.

Join us in supporting the stimulus package to save and create jobs, improve our shared infrastructure, develop safe and modern learning environments, and meet the sustainable energy needs of the future.

Freedom to Marry – freedom from fear

Today’s post is written by the Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle, minister of the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston, Texas. He is also a retired naval officer, former university professor, marathon runner, and triathlete. Matt and his wife Gail have two children, Alex (16) and Andy (11).

On Valentines Day, as I have done for several years, I will again co-officiate Houston’s Freedom to Marry wedding ceremony where as many as fifty gay and lesbian couples will get married. Every time I participate in this ceremony, or conduct an individual wedding ceremony for a same-sex couple, I am brought back to the holy in a unique way. Of course, the holy is present at every wedding. To facilitate the public profession of the sacred bond of love between two people is a deep honor and privilege. But to marry a couple whose profession is most often ignored and rejected by society at large comes with additional responsibility and accountability–responsibility to work tirelessly for the day when discrimination is neither legislated by the government nor perpetuated by ignorance–accountability to God and to humanity that all souls are able to live with equal freedoms and without fear.

Whenever I perform same-sex wedding, I say the following:

Although the State of Texas does not yet recognize marriage between same-sex couples, this is in no way diminishes the union we celebrate today. This couple is formalizing their commitment today not before the laws of the state, but before the loving witness of each other, of their families and friends, and before that which is holy and sacred to them in their love for one another. All love is holy. The bonds of marriage are unique that two people, who began their lives apart, find one another and recognize the joy they experience in one another. In our society, the romantic bond of love between two women or between two men is usually received with misunderstanding, fear, and constant discrimination. Love in the face of such obstacles is tested unlike that of most couples. This love has to be even stronger in the face of adversity, this is indeed a sacred bond of a very special love.

And yet, I am saddened every time I say these words because I shouldn’t have to. I am saddened that fear and disdain of the other perpetuates such discrimination. Human beings are naturally afraid of what they don’t understand. Most heterosexuals don’t understand what it means to be gay. I always recommend asking a gay or lesbian person about their lives. If you think you don’t know anyone, think again. They are in your neighborhood, at work, at school, in line at the grocery store with their families, and sitting next to you in church. Most of them will tell you that they are afraid too. They are afraid of losing their jobs, their children, their homes, their extended families and friends, or worse. They are afraid of being the victims of violent hate crimes. Sadly, there is more than enough evidence to support all of their fears. Ironically, there isn’t a shred of evidence to support being afraid of homosexuality or what might happen if marriage was a universal right between two loving people.

I can’t understand why anyone would deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Because they can’t procreate together? Neither can many heterosexual couples, but we allow them to marry. Because homosexuality is a sin? Even if it was, all of us have sinned, and should think twice before throwing stones. But homosexuality is not a sin. It is not a choice. It is not a lifestyle. If you don’t understand this, think about when you decided to be heterosexual. Chances are you never decided. Being heterosexual is simply who you are. Everyone falls in love and everyone should have the same right to solemnize and legalize their loving, healthy, and monogamous relationship. Should we deny same-sex marriage because it threatens traditional marriage? No. Honoring lifelong love and commitment between two people does not weaken, but strengthens, the institution of marriage regardless of whether they are man and woman, man and man, or woman and woman.

Freedom to marry for all loving couples is not only a step toward building a beloved community–it is a step away from the fear that grips our lives.

For those who will respond to this post with their own disdain, using as absolute authority either scripture or research to deny marriage equality (as folks always do when I have the audacity to promote the virtue of love and equality), I ask you to try something different this time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Come to the ceremony on Valentines Day (or go to one in your area if you are not in Houston).
  • Talk deeply with your gay family member or friend (you do have one) about their lives.
  • Go see the movie “Milk.”
  • Rent or buy the documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So.”

In short, do anything that is an authentic step toward loving your neighbor and loving your enemy as yourself and learning about someone who is different than you before you see fit to condemn them.


Rev. Matt

This entry was reprinted from Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle’s blog “Keep The Faith,” which is hosted by the Houston Chronicle.

Join the UUA Washington Office’s Call for Senators to Pass Stimulus Package

Yesterday, the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy sent every Senator a letter calling for passage of the economic stimulus package and a document comparing spending components of the stimulus package with the ten largest military contracts from 2008.

Now is the time to tell your Senators to pass this important legislation. We are getting word that Senate offices are hearing far more from constituents who oppose the package. Read our document and then call both your Senators using the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them to act quickly and pass the economic stimulus plan!

First UU Church of Nashville youth speak out for immigrants’ rights

On January 22nd, voters in Nashville, TN, defeated an amendment that would have made Nashville the largest municipality in the United States to pass an English-only ordinance. Members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville (FUUN, pictured at right) joined forces with a broad-based coalition, Nashville for All of Us, and its subgroup, Faith Leaders for All of Us, to defeat this amendment, which would have violated the human rights of many residents in Nashville and surrounding Davidson County.

Members of FUUN were active in helping spread the word and getting out the vote. 5th and 6th grade members of the congregation discussed the issue in their Sunday morning Religious Education class, and then wrote letters that were published in the church newsletter, The Fireside, and mailed the letters to The Tennessean. See below to read their letters, reprinted from The Fireside.

Many thanks to Tanya Surawicz, co-chair of FUUN’s Social justice Committee, Marguerite Mills, FUUN’s Director of Religious Education, and the youth of FUUN for this news item!

Dear Editor:

I think that English shouldn’t be the only language in Davidson County. It isn’t fare to the people that only speeks one language. What if there is someone that only speeks Spanish and they can’t get a job because of that. That means that the people who speek a different language won’t be able to get a job and there will be a lot of people without jobs. In the Declaration of Independence it says that all men are created equal. If there is someone that is signing up for school they can only sign them up in English. So that being said English shouldn’t be the only language in Davidson County!!


Khalila Early-Zald, sixth grade

Dear Editor:

I think that English should not be the only spoken language in Davidson County because it is not fair for those who are from different countries, and can not pay for the education to learn English. Also, in the Declaration of Independence it says, “All men are created equal.” If this is passed, it goes against the Declaration of Independence. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it says, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.” If the English only amendment is passed, it would go against this to.

Sarah Keil, sixth grade

Dear Editor,

It has come to my attention that a law has been made to declare English the main language in Davidson County. My UU class and I oppose this idea. What about immigrants? Those foreign people who have a good idea and cannot understand English would not be able to communicate it. Please try not to pass this law.


Hannah Harrison, sixth grade

Dear Editor,

I believe that an English-only law should not be passed in Davidson County. This would harm the United States. We are the most united country in the world. We shouldn’t discriminate [against] others just because they don’t speak English. The declaration states that “all men are created equal.” We are the country where many immigrants [come] to in search of freedom, their only chance of hope. How do you expect those who are less fortunate and can’t afford to get a translator to move here and survive this way??? We live in the United States, we are united, we are 1. This can only be true if we truly are 1, we are accepting of others even if they look different, believe differently, or speak a different language.

I hope you will consider this letter. Thank-you for your time!


Joanna Paul, seventh grade

To learn more about the defeat of the English-only ordinance in Nashville, see Nashville Speaks up: English Only soundly defeated from The City Paper of Nashville.

New Jersey UU recognized for 22 years of letters to the editor

Advocacy & Witness staff members of the UUA love to encourage people to write letters to the editor. It’s an easy way to make a highly visible statement on issues of justice and compassion. So today, we’d like to lift up the amazing work of Eleanor Fleischman of the Central Unitarian congregation in Paramus, New Jersey.

Over the past twenty-two years, 95 year-old Eleanor has had forty-four letters to the editor published in The Record newspaper of Bergen County, New Jersey. Eleanor’s letters have addressed justice issues including local hunger, the Iraq War, and the election of President Obama.

In addition to letter writing, Eleanor has been an active volunteer in her community: She has taught English as a Second Language, helped the developmentally disabled, collected food for the needy, and worked in Hackensack University Medical Center Auxiliary’s Green Caboose Thrift Shop.

I’ve never met Eleanor or read any of her letters, but I am so impressed and inspired by her spirit of giving and community involvement.

I hope that I’m that cool when I’m ninety-five.

Read the article by Jay Levin on TimesRecordNews.com, Woman’s Letters Come From Her Heart.

My Country Tis of Thee

Taquiena Boston is Director of the UUA’s Identity-Based Ministries and a native resident of Washington, DC. She offers some of her experiences of this week’s inauguration:

“No more bargaining with God,” my mother said after we watched the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama from Station 9, a restaurant on U Street in Washington, DC.  When I asked her what that meant, she said that just as she had prayed to see my sister and me grow up and hit the significant birthdays and benchmarks in our lives — as well as her personal benchmarks, — she prayed that she would live to see Barack Obama inaugurated as president.

My mother turned 81 on January 2, 2009.  She was the youngest daughter, ninth child and first of my grandmother’s 10 children to be born in Washington, DC during segregation and on the brink of the Great Depression. When we researched my mother’s genealogy in Culpeper County, VA, we learned that her matrilineal line dates back to the late 1700s in the United States. We even found the name of the man who “last owned” her great grandfather, Abram. As my sister photocopied the census information from “The Colored People of Culpeper County” that named my mother’s grandmother and the names of her great and great-great grandparents, my mother’s reaction was “I feel like I belong to something.”

In the last several years, walking and crowds have become more challenging for my mother.  So on January 20, 2009, she, my sister and I went to a U Street restaurant reserved by “DC for Obama” for campaign volunteers and friends to watch the Inauguration. I wore my deceased father’s sweater loaded with all my campaign buttons. (Because my father’s ancestry also extended more than 200 years in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I had worn this sweater while canvassing and doing Get Out the Vote in Prince William County, VA to feel the support of my ancestors as I knocked on doors in communities unknown to me.) I gave my mother the Obama-Biden inauguration button purchased the day after the election.

During the election, my mother and I had several conversations about what it was like be a citizen of a country in which you are also treated like the stranger. My own experiences traveling outside the United States brought home to me how much I am a product of “American” culture. But it surprised me to hear my mother say that most often she felt like she was an exile or refugee. So the most moving part of Inauguration Day for me was when Aretha Franklin sang “My Country Tis of Thee.”  The “Queen of Soul” hardly got out “sweet land of liberty” when my mother grabbed the tissues from her purse and started sobbing.  I put my arm around “Mommy” as several tears rolled down my own cheeks.

When the inauguration ceremony was over, I asked my mother what had moved her about “My Country Tis of Thee.”  She said “we used to sing that song in school all the time when I was a girl, but I never believed it was true for me until now.  Today, this is my country, too.”

The Prayer Delivered by Bishop Gene Robinson

Millions of people heard Rev. Rick Warren deliver the Invocation at the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama on Tuesday. As many of you know, Warren vocally supported the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which took away the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry. Fewer people saw the “We Are One” inaugural concert that took place at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. And even if you followed on radio or watched it on tv, you would not have seen Bishop Gene Robinson’s opening prayer because HBO and NPR chose not to air it. As many of you know, Robinson is the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church. Below is his prayer:

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


The Transformation of Washington, D.C.

This inaugural weekend, there was love in the air. Washington, D.C. was filled to the brim with the most polite, positive, life-giving people I have ever met. I have never heard so many “excuse me’s” and “thank you’s.”

Two stories, neither of which I witnessed, demonstrate the willingness of the masses to find love even where hate is what they saw. An All Souls Unitarian, D.C., member, was walking towards the Lincoln Memorial with his husband, and their son, for the We Are One concert, when they came across a small handful of people protesting homosexuality. The protesters had a large sign that read “Homo-Sex Is Sin.” My friends were saddened, but they decided not to pay the protesters any attention. However, a group of gay men down from New York were not going to let it pass. In an act of creative counter-protest, they started chanting, “Homo-Sex Is In! Homo-Sex Is In!” Thousands of people all around them took up the chant and the protesters were left scrambling to reclaim their hate.

The handful of protesters returned on Tuesday for the Inauguration. A man, who I randomly hugged on the street, told me that as he was filing out after the swearing-in, he saw two men climb up on an electrical box, right next to the protesters, and start making out. The thousands of people witnessing this brave couple’s statement of love erupted in cheers.

It was abundantly clear to me this weekend that the millions of people who filled D.C. came because they were ready for more than a new President; they were ready for a new love; a love of country, a love of their fellow citizens, and a love of those who have for so long been victims of hate.

One final thing. For the first time in my three years in D.C., African Americans with cameras and fur coats are everywhere. I didn’t realize it until they appeared, but black tourists are highly underrepresented among the many tourists who come to D.C. It sort of feels like a portion of this city is being reclaimed by its rightful owners and those of us who have been occupying their portion are jubilant that its owners have found their way home. Everyone seems ready for reconciliation and reconnection. I started the day with a moment of this reconnection.

I walked out on my porch at 7:30 a.m. and an African American man was bundled up and walking hurriedly towards the route downtown. I was already feeling the historical nature of the day and when our eyes met I raised my fist in the air in a motion closely resembling the black power salute. While retaining the blanket he was holding, he awkwardly returned the gesture. Now, I am a white guy, and as he was walking away, I was thinking to myself – was that really an appropriate thing to do? Sure enough, he stopped and turned around. He walked back down the sidewalk to the bottom of my stoop. He pulled out his camera and said, “Could you do that again? I want to document everything today.” I smiled and proudly thrust my fist back in the air.