We Need Victories
Waking up to the Supreme Court decision affirming marriage equality, I felt a surge of joy like I had not felt in a long time. It was bolstered by the fact that I was in Portland with 4,000 other Unitarian Universalists for our annual General Assembly and the air of excitement was practically vibrating. Tears were flowing freely as people allowed themselves to soak up the reality that their lives, their families, their love mattered; that it held an equal place in the eye of the highest court in the land. I cried. A lot. We UUs have been working for decades for LGBT rights and especially for marriage equality. And finally, finally, we can enjoy the sweetness of victory knowing, #LoveWins!
Victories like these are so important. For many of us justice minded, religious people, it often feels like we are losing; struggling to make our voices heard, let alone affect systemic change while going up against those with more money and more power. But victories like the marriage equality decision fill us up again and remind us that our voices do matter and change is possible. Victories help us to keep on moving forward.
In my new home in Boise, Idaho, where I will begin a new ministry at the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, I am aware that this Supreme Court Victory is bittersweet. You see, Idaho has yet to include protections for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the Idaho Human Rights Act (IHRA). This means people could be fired or denied housing for being gay, lesbian, trans or differently identified, with no access to resources or mediation. How awful it is that those whose marriage is finally recognized by the state and the nation cannot fully express their joy in the workplace for fear of losing their job. For nine years progressive groups and activists, including Unitarian Universalists, in Idaho have been pushing the legislature to "add the words" to the IHRA. For nine years they have been denied. And yet, each year they find more resolve to keep on moving forward and we Unitarian Universalists pledge continue to fight alongside them to add the words.
So, when a victory comes, whether large or small, it is important to take time for celebration, for singing and dancing and feeling the joy deep in our bones. At our General Assembly we held an impromptu pop-up worship service to commemorate the marriage equality victory. We sang and prayed and heard heartfelt reflections. And yet, in each of those reflections and throughout the rest of the week, we were reminded to take this victory as a moment of recharging to help move us forward for all the work still to be done; for trans men and women, for people of color, for immigrants and refugees and so many more.
Let this victory bolster us as we recommit ourselves to continued engagement and action. We know that there are many victories yet to be won, many people who still need our voices and our solidarity. May this victory guide our feet as a beacon of possibility, hope, and joy that justice will indeed prevail. Let the work continue in love, friends. We are here. We will show up, again and again and again.
I am beyond words this morning. "Justice has arrived like a thunderbolt!" Today my heart is filled with love, joy, and pride. Last night I was honored to be welcomed into preliminary fellowship as a UU mister at our national General Assembly. It was moving and powerful and we were charged up to continue to draw our circle wide to all who are seeking a spiritual home. This morning I wake up to the news of this historic Supreme Court decision and I am even more proud and honored to be part of a faith that has held love at the center, affirmed that love makes a family, and fought for marriage equality. As a new minister, I pledge to continue to hold love at the center, to fight for justice and equality and welcome all who search into our doors. I want my LGBTQ friends and all others to know you are a blessing and you are loved. We are with you always. You have been waiting far too long for this day. We celebrate you. And, when you are ready to get married, find a UU minister. We will say "YES"! Let us lift up our voices in praise and song, especially those of us together at #UUAGA to remind ourselves that our actions can indeed make change and that as our president lifted up, "create ripples of hope!" #LoveWins
Rev. Sara LaWall
Justice minded, Unitarian Universalist Minister, mother & wife serving Boise, ID