In the Midst of It

Yesterday, the Supreme Court crippled the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Last night, the Texas State Senate adopted a draconian anti-choice bill over a valiant and heroic effort of one Senator, Wendy Davis, to filibuster the bill, a filibuster which culminated in an extraordinary People's Filibuster as thousands of citizens tried to stop their legislature from doing such harm.

Today, we are hours away from more Supreme Court decisions which will either affirm marriage equality for all, or place it further away.

The Voting Rights Act was the legal response to the Selma campaign of 1965.  It carries the sweat and blood of Unitarian Universalists; the hundreds of UU ministers who went to Selma, the Detroit laywoman Viola Luizzo  and the Rev. James Reeb who were each killed in that struggle.

A group of Texas Unitarian women attorneys played a leading role in the Roe v. Wade case, which made abortion legal.

And Unitarian Universalists raised the rainbow flag over that iconic American space, the New England Town Green, for years, and defiantly conducted ceremonies of union for same-sex couples before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled for marriage equality in a case brought by a UU couple.

Our legacy is on the line.


  1. I took a shot at making this go viral on Facebook yesterday and failed. It may still be of interest:

    Friends, I have something difficult to ask of you:

    Today, the Supreme Court cut the heart out of the Voting Rights Act. This is only the latest in a string of terrible decisions this year. Sexual harassment is now harder to prove. Native Americans will have a harder time keeping their children from being taken from them. It's been a hard summer.

    The only major case left is one we're optimistic about. And yet...

    Tomorrow, or the day after, when the Supreme Court overturns DOMA (probably) and upholds Prop. 8 (almost certainly), restrain, or at least rethink, your celebrations. I believe the ordering of the release of these decisions was politically motivated in order to sow dissension and distrust among us.

    It has become clear that the policy of the radical right is to subvert democracy by suppressing the vote wherever possible, especially in the south but also in the north. The judicial theft of the 2000 election was the start and the hard right's gerrymandering in the post-2010 redistricting is the middle.

    The end? I have some hunches where it's going and I don't know how it will end.

    But consider this: It took less than a decade for Reconstruction to be betrayed.

    Now consider this: What will be the result of wild celebration the day after the Voting Rights Act has been gutted? Was this calculated by the bigots in control of the court in order to make relations between Blacks people and Queer people more fraught?

    I don't know. I can't read their minds, only their actions. Regardless, letting that happen would be wrong, deeply wrong, terribly wrong.

    I've heard too much of this already over the years. In Atlanta, my polling place was picketed by a Black person opposing the rights of Queer people. In Little Rock, I've had a Queer person tell me there was no reason to support the rights of Black people since they voted against Prop. 8 in California. And so it goes.

    And it has to stop.

    Now is the time to begin.

    On the day Hardwick v. Bowers was decided, I was the lead organizer for a major demonstration taking place less than a week away, riding in a taxi to a downtown Manhattan copy shop for urgent work, when the streets were blocked by thousands of angry queers.

    It is one of the great regrets of my life that I was grouchy about not getting my work done and did not join that righteous throng in their public rage and glory.

    Not this time. Never again.

    Tomorrow, I will join whatever celebration I can and I will carry a sign decrying the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. I'm not sure how to phrase it, but I'll find a way to express my joy and my anger at the same time, as one cry of justice. I must. We must. We all must. It's a time for unity.

    I ask you to consider doing the same, and to share this message widely.

    P.S. I know a few of my valued friends and relatives who read this will disagree with me. I love you all no matter what. But I will delete any comment which argues or quibbles or takes away from what matters most now. This is a time for action. And I will still love you all. That's why I'm doing this.


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