Join Faith Leaders In Demanding Congress Support the Equality Act
As people of faith, we urge Congress to support the Equality Act. Our faith traditions teach us that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight, cisgender, and queer people are all created with sacred dignity and worth. We are taught to respect and love others as ourselves in our words, deeds, and laws. Now is the time to update our federal laws to respect and uphold the sacred dignity and worth of all people. In doing so, we will live up to our nation’s values of freedom, equality, and opportunity for all.
In our country today, LGBTQ people—our neighbors, family, friends, and fellow congregants, and for some signatories, we ourselves— are at risk of being fired from a job, refused a place to live, refused service in a place of business, told to leave a bathroom, or refused critical medical care because of who they are or who they love. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or, gender identity is unjust and immoral. We call on Congress to remedy this injustice by passing the Equality Act. This legislation ensures equal protection for all people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
As people of faith, we believe it is possible to both protect LGBTQ people from unjust discrimination and uphold the freedom of religion. That freedom is one of our nation’s most fundamental values, which is why it is protected in the Constitution and remains protected under the Equality Act. As people of faith, we rely on this freedom every day to hold the beliefs we choose and to practice our faiths free from discrimination. It does not give us the right to harm or discriminate against others or impose our religious beliefs on others. We value the freedom of religion and the freedom from discrimination, and we urge Congress to protect both by passing the Equality Act.
We believe equality is a right. Our nation’s laws must uphold our values of loving and caring for our LGBTQ neighbors as ourselves. As people of faith, we have an obligation to be part of healing the world. We will not cease in pursuing our commitment to these values until Congress has passed legislation protecting all people from discrimination and fully funds enforcement of these protections. We lament the ways in which religion has been used throughout our nation’s history to justify discrimination, including on the basis of race. We refuse to be complicit in attempts to use religion to marginalize LGBTQ communities.
We call on Congress to pass the Equality Act today.
Click here to Join Faith Leaders In Demanding Congress Support the Equality Act
Our nation faces one of its most grave crises. We are watching the chief executive amass unprecedented power, defying the rule of law. Nothing in our history has prepared us for this challenge to our Constitution, to our statutes, to our interactions among the branches of government. We are fighting for the soul of democracy. No one can stay idle in the face of this challenge.
I was born in the early wave of the post war “baby boom”. I grew up with “Holocaust Consciousness” followed quickly by awareness of post-war threats to our own democracy in the wave of anti-communist fervor from many in Congress and society. Then came a growing awareness of the evils of Jim Crow segregation. To say I was a scared little kid would be an understatement. I remember my parents watching the Army-McCarthy hearings, not understanding much other than the danger to innocent people, Hearing my parents and their friends talk about those threats to democracy and equality, to justice and fairness was pretty overwhelming.
I have dreaded the day I’d have to find my courage to stand up against something as evil and scary as fascism had been in Europe. Would I have what it takes to resist? To be as brave as Miep Gies who hid the Frank family? To defy authority in the name of democracy and of my faith in Jesus’ teachings on justice for all people?
In 2003, just before the start of US bombing of Iraq, I participated in an 8-state convening against hate crimes that even then were on the rise. The last night we saw a film about German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his anti-fascist resistance during the Third Reich. In the discussion that followed, the group leader said, “Be prepared from here on, to lay down your life for what you believe.” When asked what that meant, he said, “Devote your life to standing for justice. And, if needed, to lay down your life for that purpose.”
It was incredibly sobering and frightening to hear this. Would we need to do this? In America?
We at the Council of Churches have tried to live by that principle: lay down your life for what you believe. Some of you know that we have been under siege from vandalism and threats for doing exactly that. Some of our denominational affiliates have been contacted by extremists demanding they drop out of the Council, always by those who detest our stands for equality and for justice. No one has dropped out, and the retaliation, while minor, has resulted in vandalism, stalking, threats.
And yet we have stayed the course. Did we have any real alternative?
Now we call on all of you to do whatever you can for love of our fellow human beings, for the preservation of democracy, for the protection of the rule of law.
Remember the “Faithful Five Minutes” of calls to your elected officials every day. Bolster the strong, chastise the weak. Speak up and out for justice and our Constitution.
Rally when you are able. Join diverse coalitions of immigrant rights groups, labor, racial justice groups, civil rights groups, and diverse faiths then go to your representatives’ and senators’ offices, both federal and state level. Fight for the rule of law. Stand against oppression. Keep abreast of current events. Speak out where needed. Your voice is powerful.
We are struggling to keep the soul of our nation intact. This is the greatest threat we have faced since the Civil War. Today as I write, it is the 154thanniversary of the Confederate surrender, the Army of Virginia, to the forces of the Union Army at Appomattox. It saved the nation. Can we do this again, this time we hope without the bloodshed?
Only our actions through law can prevent another civil war, another rise of dictatorial power, another threat to democracy and our constitution.
I may be retired, but I will never stop working against injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
Please do whatever you can, however you can, for as long as you can. Our nation’s survival is on the line.
Thank you. Blessings on all you do.
Director Emerita Public Policy
Words of greeting.
Words of peace.
“Hello Brother” were words from a young Muslim man who stepped up trying desperately to deflect the gunman entering a Christchurch, NZ mosque Friday March 15th. The words, meant to stop the shooter, were the last words the Muslim man spoke. He was killed. Forty-eight more lost their lives before the rampage through two mosques ended.
In this latest of horrors, the rampant self-justification from the shooter’s own words shows he thought Muslims deserved to die. As the shooter in Pittsburgh, PA earlier shot down Jews for the same demented reason and Dylan Root shot nine Black AME Christians in Charleston, SC. They deserved to die for simply being who they are. Sikhs slaughtered in WI, Unitarians in TN. These are the victims of both religious hate and racial hate, but many more acts of violence have taken down people just trying to live their lives. We are losing count.
This isn’t a “Muslim problem”. This isn’t a “Jewish problem”. This isn’t a “Black problem”.
It’s a white Christian problem.
Before anyone says, “not all white Christians”, let us consider, in our hearts, if we have done all we can to make sure we didn’t turn a blind eye, stay silent instead of speak. Have we earnestly done all we can do to stop the new global wave of white, Christian terrorism, for that is what this all is, from spreading unchallenged? We have to search our hearts and our lives to see if we can do more.
I, for one, am tired of showing up after the fact. I hate candle light vigils and don’t attend them. I’m sick of press conferences decrying bloodshed and loss of valuable lives. I’m anguished by the sense of impotence at failing to prevent another senseless massacre. I’m frightened that there will be more.
Forty nine dead in New Zealand. Eleven in Pittsburgh. Nine in Charleston.
When will it end?
We are in the grip of an administration that demonizes “the other” be it immigrants, Muslims, people of color. We have unleashed waves of hate and resentment from white people who think equality means a loss to them. Males who see female equality as a threat. If you have to enforce your superiority with violence, are you really superior at all?
We can’t dismiss this thinking that we would never do this kind of thing to anyone. It flourishes if we tolerate it, if we don’t actively stop it. Silence is tacit assent.
We have to stand up, speak out, act affirmatively not passively in the name of our country’s promise and our faith’s direction. This isn’t on Muslim, Jews, Sikhs, Unitarians. It isn’t on Black people, Brown people, immigrants, indigenous people.
It’s on us: white, middle class, mainstream Christians. We are the only people who can speak out and uphold these truths of nation and faith. We can stay silent no more.
Hello brother. Hello sister. Hello everyone. End the silence. End the violence. It’s on us.
The deadline to register for the November 6 general election in California is October 22. To check your registration status, please go here.
If you or friends need to register or re-register, please visit the Secretary of State sites.
For general voter registration information, please see here.
To register or re-register, find the online forms here.
Can you host a voter registration table at your congregation or community organization? You may download and print the registration application and help people fill it out, sign it, and return it by mail. It must be postmarked October 22 by midnight or earlier.
If you are interested in the IMPACT ballot guide, our recommendations on the propositions, please find them here.
If you wish to continue in a language other than English, please select your language below.
The upcoming election is important on all matters. Please make sure you are registered and then vote on or before November 6.
Your vote is how democracy thrives!
Many congregations throughout California host IMPACT Sundays at their congregation, place of worship, or homes and other locations. Attached is a flyer with suggestions on how some congregations do this, but you are welcome to use your creativity! If you need copies of our ballot guide, you can download them here or contact us. We can send you copies but do ask for help covering the cost of printing and postage.
If you do hold an IMPACT Sunday or distribute our recommendations, please be sure to let us know about it! For more information, please contact us.
Many of you have received our recommendations for the statewide propositions on the November 2018 California General Election in the mail. Due to popular request, we are sending them out electronically too. You can download the attached file or click on the links below if your email does not show the attachment. Please feel free to reproduce, use, and distribute for your congregation,family, and friends. If you want suggestions on how these are used by other congregations throughout the state, please see the attachment/link for IMPACT Sundays.
There are several bond acts on the 2018 General Election ballot. They do increase state indebtedness but come at a time when the state’s fiscal health is excellent. With comparatively low interest rates and with major unmet needs calling for attention, this is a fiscally responsible moment to repair and restore the things we have let go untended for nearly two decades.
And, as always, please contact us with any questions or needs.
Proposition 1: SB3 (Chapter 365, Statutes of 2017), Beall, Veterans and Housing Bond Act of 2018 Recommendation: SUPPORT
Homelessness across the nation is on the decline, but in California it is on the rise. 2.2 million low income households are competing for 664,000 affordable rentals statewide. Homelessness is on the rise. The problem is not solving itself as cities and counties eliminate requirements for very low-income affordable housing. Even with the state’s minimum wage increases, positive impacts are offset by skyrocketing housing costs.
This proposition raises $4 billion in general obligation bonds (repayable from the General Fund) for housing programs. It builds on three legislative bills and Proposition 41 we passed in 2014. Proposition 1 expands the eligible populations and affirms the state’s commitment to ending homelessness for individuals and families including for First Nations people who have been omitted in the past.
Proposition 2: AB1827 (Chapter 41, Statutes of 2018), Committee on Budget, No Place Like Home Act of 2018. Recommendation: SUPPORT
Known as the “No Place Like Home” proposition, this does not spend new money. We passed this via Proposition 63 in 2016. What Proposition 2 does is rectify a weakness in that vote that has put a court hold on enacting Prop. 63. Prop. 63 used “the millionaire’s tax” for mental health treatments and supports that we had passed in 2004. It did not, per the courts, adequately permit a diversion of funding from treatment to housing. Proposition 2 will give the necessary legal “clean up” of our intent in passing Proposition 63 to allow creation of housing for those with mental illnesses along with supportive services for their mental health issues.
Proposition 3: Authorizes Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage. Initiative Statute. Recommendation: SUPPORT
Since 1960 California has proposed 21 water bonds, 20 of which have passed. One of them voters passed in 2014 is largely though not totally expended. What funds remain are already encumbered. The most recent was Proposition 68 that was approved by voters in the June 208 primary. Clearly those funds have not been used, but while Prop. 68 had some water elements, there is very little overlap in the purposes of each of the two bonds.
Unlike most bonds, the funds raised will go directly to the departments and agencies responsible for the covered projects. That means none of the money will go to the Legislature that might then be diverted to other uses. The money will be distributed to local government, non profits, First Nations tribes, etc. on the basis of grants, some of which will require matching local funds. There has been almost no federal assistance to California’s water issues in many years. The bond specifically bars use of this bond’s revenues for the proposed Twin Tunnels water diversion project.
Prop. 3 covers safe drinking water, improved management of groundwater, wastewater recycling coupled with groundwater desalting and conservation, storm water management, increased water supplies for improved fish and wildlife habitat, watershed improvement and fire damage recovery, flood management, improved river parkways and urban streams, Bay Area water management integration. Restoration of the Friant-Kern Canal, damaged from ground subsidence due to groundwater depletion, and repair of the Oroville Dam are included. While farmers should pay for restoration, it must first be done. Then the issues of liability can be litigated.
Overall, accessible water supplies will increase due to improved storage and conservation plans. It is estimated that the state will create 1.5 million acre feet of new water supply, enough for 3 million families. Every area of California is assisted with the same regard for prioritizing economically disadvantaged areas that was done in the June Prop. 68 water and parks allocation.
This is a comprehensive, thoughtful set of priorities emphasizing conservation, recycling, and wise use of scarce water resources that should improve the state’s water stability for years to come.
The Rev Dr Rick Schlosser