UUA’s public witness campaign changes name after criticism that ‘Standing on the Side of Love’ privileged able-bodied people.
Side with Love–branded apparel and banners are available through the UUA Bookstore; organizations can also license the logo for other uses. (© UUA)
The shirts will still be bright yellow, and the logo will remain a sketch of a heart, but the name of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s high-visibility public witness campaign is now much shorter—and less controversial for accessibility rights activists.
The Unitarian Universalist Association announced January 10 that its “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign is now “Side with Love.”
In June 2017 the UUA General Assembly approved a responsive resolution, written by the Rev. Theresa Ines Soto, urging the leaders of the campaign to “create a new imagining that better includes and reflects the needs and contributions of disabled people.”
“[T]he word ‘Standing’ as default justice language places a high value on the justice work and commitments of able-bodied people,” the resolution says, “while it makes invisible and excludes the justice work of people with a wide range of disabilities and autistic people.”
The resolution was also supported by EqUUal Access, which works for the full engagement of people with disabilities.
The UUA chose Side with Love after discussion with many stakeholders. While the name is changing, the campaign’s logo and colors remain the same.
Congregations, individuals, and others are not expected to stop using banners and shirts featuring the old name, which the UUA introduced in 2009, but rather to phase them out as soon as they reasonably can. The Side with Love website offers guidelines.
“This is an invitation, lovingly, for a culture shift that’s not just about people having different T-shirts,” said Nora Rasman, campaign manager of Side with Love, “but engaging with EqUUal Access and other resources,” such as the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry program, to recognize and reject ableism.
The UUA launched Standing on the Side of Love, an interfaith public advocacy campaign, in 2009. It took its name from UUA President William G. Sinkford, who routinely told journalists that UUs supported same-sex marriage rights because “we stand on the side of love.” The Rev. Jason Shelton wrote a popular UU song based on the phrase, but in 2016, he changed it to “Answering the Call of Love” to be more inclusive.
In anticipation of the name change, the UUA stopped charging a fee to license the Standing on the Side of Love name and logo, and announced it will not charge licensing fees for the new logo.
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.
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