Some Background on UUA Immigration Campaign & Relationship with Puente and NDLON

By Susan Leslie, UUA Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director

UUA Immigration Reform Campaign and Our Partners

The UUA’s current immigration reform campaign really took off in 2007, in response to the immigrant rights upsurge in 2006, when we signed on as the first denomination to join the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM).  The New Sanctuary Movement was initiated by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and then taken up by Interfaith Worker Justice (whose board I serve on for the UUA) and others. The UU Church of Long Beach CA was the first congregation to join the New Sanctuary Movement and did so before the UUA.  The UU Church of Phoenix Social Action Committee signed the NSM pledge a year later after Puente participated in their May 3, 2008 worship service and led a workshop.  UUCP’s partnership with Puente has since grown and flourished.

Today the United Church of Christ, the United Methodists, the Disciples, and hundreds of congregations from several denominations are working with NSM and a joint effort is underway with NDLON and others to organize a White House Summit on immigration to advocate for an executive order suspending state and local enforcement of federal immigration law, a moratorium on ICE (Immigrant Custom Enforcement) raids that separate families and deport students, and immigration reform.

In addition to working with other on-the-ground partners, including Immigration Equality, the UUA has been represented by our Washington Office in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, advocating for the DREAM Act, the Child Citizen Protection Act, and immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, family unification, and humane enforcement at the border.  On June 10th UUA staff attended a Congressional hearing on the impact of SB1070 on women and children that was organized by NDLON, Puente, and the Domestic Workers Alliance.

Congregational Engagement & Standing on the Side of Love

In the past four years we have seen the number of UU congregations engaged with this issue increase steadily.  Advocacy & Witness has a database of over 200 UU congregations engaged in education, advocacy, and organizing. (We haven’t documented all those providing ESL classes and others services yet.)  Additionally, there are 130 UU congregations in congregation-based community organizations.  Almost all of these organizations include immigrant communities and their national networks–PICO, IAF, Gamaliel, IVP–are focusing on immigration reform.

The Standing on the Side of Love Campaign has had as a major focus standing on the side of love with immigrant families.  UU ministers and leaders have sent in blogs and news coverage of their efforts, and 5,000 cards calling for immigration reform were delivered to Congress in April.  UUs have helped Haitian refugees apply for Temporary Protected Status, worked to free Jean Montrevil–a Haitian leader who was almost deported, welcomed the Trail of Dreams walkers, and came in the hundreds to the Capitol on March 21st with thousands of immigrants marching for justice.  The UU Church of Tucson is this year’s UUA Social Justice Award winner for their No More Deaths border ministry and advocacy with the Arizona Advocacy Network.  Last year’s recipient was the UU Church of Phoenix for their work with Puente and NDLON to stop Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

UUA Public Witness for Immigration Reform & the Morales Administration

UUA President Rev. Peter Morales has made immigration reform a top UUA public witness priority.  He and Moderator Gini Courter arranged for the Board of Trustees to meet with undocumented immigrants, community organizers, and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) at their January 2010 meeting in San Antonio.  President Morales visited several Senate Offices on Capitol Hill this spring to advocate for Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s CIR ASAP legislation.  He has reached out to Latino evangelicals to join forces.

When SB1070 was passed and the Boycott Arizona movement began, the UUA Board drafted a resolution recommending that the General Assembly scheduled for Phoenix in 2012 be relocated.  DRUUMM, LUUNA, and ARE supported their recommendation  Moderator Gini Courter put out a call, along with Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Minister, UU Church of Phoenix, for UUs to join the May 29th march in Phoenix organized by Alto Arizona (two of the main organizers of Alto Arizona are Puente and NDLON).  Rev. Morales, Moderator Courter, fifty UU clergy, and 500 UUs were there.  Lots of conversations were carried on along the march, in the speakers’ staging area, and with UUCP and their partners.

How the idea of transforming GA to witness in Phoenix 2012 came about:

Following the march, Puente and NDLON, part of Somos America–the coalition leading this new civil rights movement in Arizona and nationally– asked the UUA and Standing on the Side of Love to endorse and organize for the July 29th Day of Non-Compliance in Arizona and Human Rights Summer.  We have and are!  They asked us to support the Boycott Arizona Movement and we do.   (See Boycott Arizona for actions and targets.)  They asked us to call on President Obama to issue an executive order and we have. And they asked us to come to Phoenix in 2012 and transform our General Assembly into a convergence for human rights so that we are part of supporting the movement, not breaking the boycott, and coming in to work with them for justice.  They envision an interfaith service on the capitol steps, UU lawyers and paralegals at legal clinics, UU teams registering voters, visits to the barrios, tours to the border, Arizona clergy delegations to representatives, education and worship on immigrant rights, civil disobedience, and more.  They see transforming GA as a great opportunity to involve more UUs and other people of faith in organizing for immigrant rights and justice.

Environmental Justice and Spiritual Insecurity

As a follow-up to Rowan’s post on Mountain Top Removal  Coal Mining in West Virginia, I want to share the process and one result from a recent theological reflection. As background, you should know that for the last several years Washington Office staff have met approximately once per month to contemplate our views on a particular policy issue or arena.  A few weeks ago, together with a few special guests involved in the partnership between the UU Ministry for Earth and the UUA, we focused on the subject of environmental justice.

We used a reflection process learned in seminary by a colleague; I’m sorry to say that we don’t have more proper attribution than that.  It consists of five questions (and could easily be used by any congregational social justice group wanting to go deeper!):

1. What’s the problem?

2. What’s the source of the problem?

3. What’s the solution?

4. What’s the source of the solution?

5. How do we get there?

One thing from our discussion stuck with me in particular. In the course of discussing the source of the problem, someone used the phrase “spiritual insecurity” to describe one of the factors which drives materialistic overconsumption.  We speculated that this insecurity comes from a lack of connection, whether that be to God, humanity, nature, or what have you.  When we’re not grounded, we tend to treat everything and everybody–including our own selves–worse.

I identify as a religious humanist, and I can definitely attest that I feel most spiritually secure when I feel connected to other people.  I am grateful for the family, friends, colleagues, and congregants in my community. Yet I also feel a sense of connection with all people in the world, based largely on my ethical and Unitarian Universalist beliefs about the commonality and value of all people.  Thus other people’s suffering is also a source of spiritual insecurity, which can be overcome only by my actively working to end oppression.

What does spiritual security look like for you?

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in West Virginia

This past weekend, I joined a dozen members of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia on a trip to West Virginia to witness mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining.   On this trip, we visited Larry Gibson on Kayford Mountain and spent time with the UU Congregation of Charleston, WV. The stories we heard were incredibly moving and made me reflect more on the source of our energy and how disconnected we are from it. It is by the grace of coal that I am writing this blog entry right now.

MTR is just one method of mining coal, but it is the most devastating to the land. The land is exploded to make easier access to the coal, and the rubble and byproducts are pushed into valleys and stream beds as “valley fill.” Heavy metals, such as selenium, are exposed and get pushed into the watersheds, causing health issues for people near the mines and downstream. The concentrations are high enough that just downstream from the mountaintop removal mining on Kayford Mountain, fish have both eyes on one side of their heads.

Larry told us that they recently started adding tetrol to the mining explosives. This is a chemical that was banned back in WWII, but the US had stockpiles of it that needed to be depleted. Now, this is in the air and the water people rely on to live.

Who owns the land? How did they get ownership of the land? Why does mountaintop removal coal mining happen, when there are other ways of mining coal that aren’t as destructive to the land, to jobs, and to the health of the people? Why don’t more people know about this, if so much of the country is powered on coal, some of which comes from MTR practices?

I think part of the problem is our disconnection from our resources. Energy comes from so far away, that we don’t see the devastation or feel the effects nearly as strongly from a distance, if we feel them at all. Even so, we our destroying our country’s heritage and some of the oldest mountains in the country. Sacrificing the people of Appalachia to power the rest of the country. We’re seeing this acutely now with the Gulf Coast and oil as well.

I encourage you to read more about MTR. More information can be found on, which is maintained by Appalachian Voices. In 2006, UU congregations passed an Action of Immediate Witness to End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. And before long, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church intends to take a show on the road to raise awareness about MTR and move toward action.

May we renew our connection with our planet and extend our idea of caring for our neighbors. May we reduce our energy consumption and raise our awareness about the sacrifices made to fuel our lives. May we move swiftly and as painlessly as possible to a clean energy economy. And may we celebrate and support life for all.

State Department Announces New Policy on Gender Change in Passports

Beginning June 10, the State Department is implementing a new policy that may make it easier for transgender people to change the gender listed in their passports.  Under this policy, anyone presenting certification from an attending physician that they have undergone appropriate treatment for gender transition will be able to obtain a passport reflecting their new gender.

With proper certification based on the statement of a physician, those who are still in the process of transitioning can obtain a limited-validity passport during their gender transition.  Previous policy listed sex reassignment surgery, a medical procedure that not all transgender people are willing or able to undergo, as a prerequisite for changing the gender on a passport.

The State Department announcement also directs all passport issuing officers in the United States and abroad to ask only appropriate questions to obtain the necessary information to determine the citizenship and identity of passport applicants.  Read the State Department’s announcement here.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – A Roadmap to Repeal

On Thursday night, May 27, two historic votes occurred that will pave the way for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the failed and harmful policy that bans bisexual, gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the US military.

The House of Representatives voted to include language that repeals DADT in the Defense Authorization bill that subsequently passed with a vote of 229 to 186.  On the same evening, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to include the same language in their version of the Defense Authorization bill.  These are crucial first steps towards a full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, but the policy remains in place.  Service members are still being fired if they are found to be bisexual, gay or lesbian.  If you or someone you know is serving in the military, please read SLDN’s warning to service members.

The Senate bill is expected to be sent to the floor for a vote later this summer.  If the bill passes the Senate, both bills will be reviewed by a conference committee during the August recess.  The House and Senate will then vote on the conference report, which could conceivably put the Defense Authorization Act on the President’s desk by early October.

Public pressure to repeal DADT has gotten us this far, but we must keep it up if repeal language is to stay intact throughout this process.  In the run up to a Senate vote, the amendments could be weakened or stricken altogether by opponents of repeal.  Even if the amendments go through as part of the final bill, the President and Pentagon leaders must certify that the military is prepared for repeal.   They must show that the change in policy is consistent with current military standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruitment and retention.

The Pentagon is studying how to implement repeal and how it will affect service members and their families.  The decision whether or not to certify repeal will be based on the results of this study, which will be submitted on or before December 1, 2010.  60 days after the President transmits his certification to Congress, repeal of DADT will go into effect.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will not immediately allow for open service.  It does, however pave the way for the military to put policies and regulations into place allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.  Several top military officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, support full repeal and open service.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is only the first step to open and safe service for gay and lesbian soldiers.  The language in the Defense Authorization bills does not require the military to create policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  As a matter of precedent, the military sets its own non-discrimination policies and federal law has never done so – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, has never applied to the armed forces.  Discrimination and harassment in the military based on sexual orientation will take time and effort to eradicate, but last week’s victories present the best opportunity for progress towards this goal in the history of our nation’s military.

The President, top Pentagon leaders, and a majority of members of Congress support DADT repeal.  Those who believe that our military must reflect American values of dignity, integrity and honesty know that open service is the only way to allow all members of the armed forces to live out these values.  As advocates of full equality for bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender people, the UUA and its members are called to support all legislation that protects people from discrimination, violence and exclusion based on their identities.  Click here for more information on the UUA’s work to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

40/40/40 Campaign Ends

Meg: Cutting Out Cane Sugar
I made it!  I learned a lot about how I use sugar to overcome exhaustion–ironic because of course it wears me out!  Now the trick is to keep myself from reverting to old, bad habits.  Interesting that I don’t crave sugar now –I hope I can keep it that way!

Orelia: Local/Sustainable Meat
This weekend, even though the experiment was almost over, I was camping and succumbed to my meat cravings a couple of times.  I was pretty sure that this meat was not locally or sustainably raised.  I wasn’t wracked with guilt, but I was a little disappointed at my own lack of resolve and how easy it was for to justify the slip ups to myself.  I think there’s a lesson here about falling off the proverbial wagon.  I heard this lesson again in a yoga class I took while camping.  The teacher kept repeating, “It’s not how many times you stop, but how many times you start again.”  So at the moment, I’m just working on observing myself and my inclinations and desires, including my wish to live a life that is authentic and sustainable and satisfying.  I’m grateful for the start that 40/40/40 has given me, and I am looking forward to continually starting again.

Rob: Fair Trade Coffee
What stands out as I reflect on my 40/40/40 commitment is the “pregnant pause” that came after I asked a business or friend if their coffee was fair trade. In that brief moment, it felt like everyone (including me) was evaluating the extent to which my request was legitimate and the extent to which it was annoying. I will continue to reflect on this dynamic, and especially how asking for justice can often seem “impolite”. There’s a place for decorum, of course, but perhaps I need to be more comfortable with creating tension for the right reasons.

Rowan: Saying Grace
It was fascinating to see how this played out for me–the messaging I told myself, the time it takes, and the effects of eating with others, and the impact it had on my buying habits. When I focused on gratitude for everything that brought me the food, taking the time was much more enjoyable. It was hard to enjoy my food when I was outraged about everything that I don’t know about the growing methods and how the workers were treated, or the fact that my banana coming from South America cost less than my apple from New England. I found myself paying more close attention in the supermarket about my food choices and growing methods. Sometimes, in a rush, I would think a grace to myself while preparing my food or running around, and I sometimes found it more challenging than I would have expected. Saying grace was a practice I most appreciated when sharing food with friends–good food and good company. I’ve learned that it’s only as powerful as the mindfulness I bring to it.

Susan: No Red Meat
My family gave up red meat for the 40-40-40 campaign. To tell you the truth I felt a bit guilty as I thought we were picking something very easy since we rarely eat it and even more rarely cook it at home. We were surprised to learn that the occasional times we have bacon with our eggs or decide to grab a steak sub rather than cook at all some nights were more frequent than we realized. The capper came when we were attending the local annual May Fair and decided not to get the Indian food we often get that contains red meat. Instead we went to the organic green food both and got falafel salads where we saw among posted factoids the statement that a vegetarian driving a hummer has a smaller carbon foot print than the meat-eating Prius driver. Well I went on the web to learn more about that and found out that particular fact is inaccurate but my research headed me towards a lot of other great perspectives. Here is one I’d like to share My family can’t claim to be vegan bicyclists yet but the spiritual practice and mindfulness of participating in the 40-40-40 with other members of our congregation (First Parish Cambridge) led us to start being mindful in a lot of different ways about our environmental impact. We’re all biking even more and saying no thanks to the hamburgers!

On My Feet in the Phoenix Heat

(Cross-posted from the Standing on the Side of Love blog, originally posted May 29th.)

Rev. Meg Riley is Campaign Director of the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign and a Minnesota resident.

It’s hot here in Phoenix for this Minnesotan, though the locals say it’s just “warm”—mid nineties. Still, spirits are high as people gather from across the nation to protest Arizona Bill 1070.

The folks from Arizona are visibly relieved and buoyed up by the presence of visitors. One after another tell me, many with tears in their eyes, how frightening this bill is and how angry and helpless they feel in its wake. I don’t just mean people who know me, or people of faith, or Unitarian Universalists. I’m talking about waitresses, gas station attendants—strangers.

One waitress, noticing our not-a-bit-subtle Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts, and our buttons which state “I could be illegal,” gets tears in her eyes. “THANK YOU,” she says, “I know just why you’re here, and THANK YOU.” She then goes on to say that she was visiting family in California when the bill passed. To her horror, her family members thought it was a great thing and only wished California would have a similar bill. She says, quietly, “They just don’t know what they’re talking about. I didn’t even know what to say.” And then, even more quietly, “It feels like Nazi Germany.” She is a 60-something Jewish woman, she tells me, and she can’t believe her family could support this legislation, which for her is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Standing on the Side of Love in Phoenix

She’s not the only one tearing up. I sometimes feel I could wail, watching the beautiful Latino families around me, knowing the fear that many of them live with daily as they pray for one another’s safety. And then I want to cheer, seeing the joy and courage and ease they embody in this hot sun that is melting my neck and feet.

Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists, including dozens of clergy from across the nation, gathered with one broken heart at the UU Church of Phoenix Friday night and then came to rally and march on Saturday morning. Many of the clergy, joining colleagues from other faiths, lined the street where the marchers began to offer prayer, bread for the journey (in this case, tortillas), water, and blessings. It was a great vantage point from which to watch!

In the delightful random moments of such events, I saw Sandy Sorensen, a dear old friend who directs the United Church of Christ’s Washington Office. Sandy was joined by a group of United Church of Christ colleagues.

As the march gathered, the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, who seems to know everyone, introduces me to a veteran Arizona politician and organizer, by the name of Alfredo Gutierrez. Gutierrez nods to the crowd, “That’s what they’re afraid of,” he says to us, pointing to a group of children playing. He goes on, “They’re not afraid of people like me. We’re old. They’re scared because of the children—all the children. And, look at those children! They are happy, they are laughing, they are not afraid. Look at the joy around you! How could this scare people?”

Reflections on Flying

I had managed to clip the ropes into the metal loops on my safety belt, and I began to climb the ladder. I was about to have my first flying trapeze lesson, and the first step was to make it up to the top of the platform. Someone on the ground reminded me to hold onto the rungs ahead of me instead of the sides of the ladder, and a vision of the whole ladder toppling to the ground with me under it flashed through my mind. I felt safer gripping the rungs, though still a little shaky. I kept climbing.

I’m afraid of heights and even more afraid of falling, but I had come to this class with my co-workers determined to face that fear head on. The instructors praised me for making it to the top, affirming that the hardest part, that long climb, was over, and now all I had to do was fly. I didn’t believe them.

For me, the hardest part was believing that my body could do something that I thought was impossible. The hardest part was believing wholeheartedly – enough to jump – that I was strong enough. I wasn’t convinced that my body would listen to me, and I knew myself well enough to know that if I didn’t believe it was possible, it wasn’t going to happen. So I waited for some faith. And when it didn’t come right away, I waited some more, and then I looked for it. I needed a few moments on top of that platform, holding on for dear life before I let go.

My faith started to surface not when I thought and bickered with myself harder and harder, not when I tried to reason myself out of sheer panic, but when I turned off my brain and trusted. The whole experience, the instructor reminded me, was designed to feel like the scariest thing in the world, but to be one of the safest. From the moment I clipped my belt into the ropes on the ground to the moment that my feet were back on the ground, I was completely and totally safe. Someone was holding those ropes, and they were not going to let anything bad happen to me. They promised.

I didn’t think about this until later, and only then with some prompting and prodding, but the work that I do, the hard work of advocacy, is based in large part on faith too. I don’t always have faith in the long and tortuous legislative process, but sometimes it comes through. I do have faith that the ripples of my work help move my corner of the world towards justice.

At the trapeze rig, the instructors gave me a choice. I could turn around and climb back down the ladder to get to the ground, or I could fly down. It was as simple as that. The faith came after I made my choice. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I chose to fly. The faith came when I could close my eyes for a moment, and through the teary panic, see myself flying and landing safely. The faith came when I knew that I would be safe and loved no matter what. And I flew.

I make the choice to conquer the choking fear I feel when the news tells me that the world is un-savable. I make the choice to be an advocate and an ally because so many others are silenced, and I can speak. And I know I’m not working alone. I’m surrounded by smart and passionate colleagues who challenge me to reflect upon and live out my deepest values. I am grateful for their accompaniment on this path.

My faith came from my ability to see through fear and despair into hope. My faith came from my ability to visualize the future, to see where I am in relation to those around me, to locate myself and my gifts and to use them to make change. I will always be learning. At my first trapeze lesion, even though flying only meant swinging from the bar and landing without any fancy tricks, everyone told me that I was the one who had done the most work that night. I was the one who had accomplished the most because I crossed the long distance between fear and flying, and then I made the leap.

The Skinny on SB1070

In the wake of SB1070, the Arizona law that directs local law officials to apprehend undocumented workers, there has been a lot of confusion over what the law does and does not do.  One such point of confusion is racial profiling.   According to the law,  “where reasonable suspicion exists” that a person is undocumented, law enforcement officials are instructed to ascertain his/her status.   To many, the phrase suggests that officers will selectively target Latin@s/Hispanics and possibly other people of color.  We wonder what other basis the framers of the legislation think would cause “reasonable suspicion” that someone is not here “legally.”   In an attempt to address  this criticism, lawmakers amended the language with a clause that specifically prohibits the use of perceived race in making their determinations.   And that, they said, guaranteed that there would be no racial profiling in the enforcement of SB1070.  This has convinced some and not others.

So what does the law actually say?   Not long ago I found this site that contains the full text of the bill with interactive annotations.  (It’s really cool!)

And this is what the pertinent text actually says:

Section 2.b.
For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to United States Code Section 1373(c).

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.

A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:
1. A valid Arizona driver license.
2. A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
4. If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.

There are several things to point out about this language:

1. “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person”

As the notations point out, where there is “reasonable suspicion,” the law directs law enforcement officials to attempt to determine the person’s status, but it does not place limits on what the officer can do while making such an attempt.  That there are no stated restrictions is reason for concern, as it places people at the mercy of the predilections of the officers with whom they happen to come into contact.

2. “A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection EXCEPT to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.

From the annotations:

According to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Constitution allows race to be considered in immigration enforcement: “The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor.” United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 886… See More-87 (1975).

The Arizona Supreme Court agrees that “enforcement of immigration laws often involves a relevant consideration of ethnic factors.” State v. Graciano, 653 P.2d 683, 687 n.7 (Ariz. 1982) (citing State v. Becerra, 534 P.2d 743 (1975)).

The author of the annotations goes on to say that if they had really wanted to prohibit racial profiling they would not have added the “except” clause.  As it is written, what the law basically says is go ahead and harass people based on their skin color and we’ll leave it up to the courts to decide, on a case by case basis, whether or not what was done exceeded what is allowed in the Constitution.

3. “A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:… IF the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.”

On a different site, the author argues that since several states do not require proof of legal residence before issuing a drivers license,  if you are from one of those states, your license is not sufficient to prove your legal status.  I was unable to find a list of states and whether they require proof of legal residence before issuing licenses, but it seems like this would be a serious concern for non-Arizonan Latin@s/Hispanics traveling in the state.

Based on the language within the law, it seems safe to say that not only does SB1070 promote racial profiling but there are other civil rights concerns as well.

Every Voice Counts for ENDA

Yesterday, I joined the GetEqual picket for ENDA on Capitol Hill. About 20 of us met on the corner just across the street from the Library of Congress and the Cannon House office building.  For about an hour, we marched around the block, watched by cops and protected by organizers and a legal observer.  We yelled our hearts out to all who could hear that we wanted to see ENDA passed and workplace discrimination made illegal in this country.

Seeing the effectiveness of actions like this can be hard for me, but feeling them isn’t.  As I marched and screamed, I thought of all of the privileges that brought me to Capitol Hill, my income, my education, and not least of all, the fact that not only do I have a job, but I have a job that encourages me to participate in such actions.  Not everyone is just as blessed, yet it should be their right.  Yesterday, I was screaming for everyone that has ever been fired, harassed and harmed in an unsafe workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I screamed for transgender people all over the country who are fighting for their very right to exist and being denied jobs and human dignity for just having the courage to live into their truest selves.  Witnessing their struggle challenges me to use my gifts and talents to do the same.

As I marched, I saw more than a few people stare past us and continue on to wherever they were going in the same way that I’ve often passed pickets and protests.  One can grow a thick skin living in this town where change is slow and one’s voice is rarely heard through “official channels”.  But I also saw people smiling at us and nodding their heads to the beat of our chants.  People walked by in the black and blue suits of Congressional office staff and chanted with us as our paths crossed. Members of Congress passed us on their way to or from their offices.  We drew the attention of everyone on the block and people came out of their offices and onto the balcony of the Cannon House office building to see us.  I remembered that small groups of people can have an impact, even if it’s a loud and mostly symbolic reminder to those in power that we and the people we represent will no longer be silent and we’re not going away.

The UUA is part of a larger effort to pass legislation that upholds the human right to earn a living with dignity, and I am bound by my humanity, to play a role in that effort.You can make your voice heard by taking action today and emailing your elected officials about ENDA