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Valentine campaign in California

UUs organize for marriage equality.
By Donald E. Skinner
May/June 2005 5.1.05

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California UUs made and sent 3,800 valentines in February to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, hoping to win him over in the marriage equality battle in that state.

Schwarzenegger will play a key role as California legislators decide whether to prohibit same-sex marriage or to extend the rights of civil marriage to same-sex couples.

About 60 congregations across the state made valentines and also held a "Standing on the Side of Love" Sunday service in February in support of marriage equality. The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California was responsible for coordinating the events.

At the UU Society of Sacramento the valentines just kept coming, said Margaret Wilcox. "We were hopeful we'd get 20. Instead we got 120. There's just been a huge amount of activity here on this issue." Wilcox is involved in part because she has a daughter who is lesbian. "It's very frightening to think about the rights that she and her partner do not have," she said.

Bonny Russell and Jan Garbosky, who are registered as domestic partners, helped organize marriage equality activities at First UU Church of San Diego. "There was a church service in which gay and lesbian couples were honored and blessed and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen," said Russell. "Arvid [Rev. Arvid Straube] talked about honoring our love and our commitment to each other and the world. It was very powerful to look out into the congregation and see many people crying."

Marriage equality advocates were encouraged March 14 when San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled that withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians is unconstitutional. The judge wrote that the state's historical definition of marriage, by itself, cannot justify the denial of equal protection for gays and lesbians. The case is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Ramsden noted that Schwarzenegger's response to the court decision was "measured" and she believes UUs might have had something to do with that. "I'd like to think we helped to create some space for him to not immediately support the opposition."

"It's going to make things very lively," said Ramsden. "The momentum is rising and we now have a huge opportunity for public education. We ultimately have to win in the court of public opinion. It's also very important that our churches remain safe places for people involved in this struggle. We're in for very interesting times."

For more information on the UU Legislative Ministry of California, go to www. uulmca.org.

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