Voting on the Side of Love

Across the country, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are mobilizing to defend democracy by stopping voter suppression, advocating for voting rights, and engaging in voter registration and Get Out the Vote efforts. In Fall 2014, Standing on the Side of Love partnered with a number of organizations and people in support of our ongoing and ongoing Voting Rights work. See some of our resources below!

Voting Rights Organizing Webinar for UUs

On Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, Susan Leslie, UUA Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director, Jennifer Toth, Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager, and Annette Marquis, UUA LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director, discussed the state of the movement, how we can each plug in and connect our efforts, and what’s on the horizon as we enter mid-term election season.

Download the video of the webinar or stream the video of the webinar.

Download a PDF (29 pages) of the slideshow presentation from the webinar.

Get Creative with us!
In 2012, we launched the first ever Voting on the Side of Love Video contest. Click here to check out the beautiful, creative and heartfelt submissions we received. And check out the great winning submission from Elliot Cennamo, a professional filmmaker and member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus.

How Can You Get Involved?

We see many opportunities to support voting rights- and not just during the electoral season! As you continue to engage in this work, here are some powerful ways to support this vital issue:

1. Tips to Get on the Bus! Many of us got to hear Sr. Simone at the 2014 General Assembly. If you missed her talk, you can watch it here; it’s truly phenomenal!) (Note her talk begins at the 4 minute mark). Sr. Simone and her sisters went on their third cross country bus trip to raise awareness about in the importance of voting and all of our justice issues in November 2014. They created lots of great resources that are still relevant, Check them out here.

2. Follow the work of The Living Legacy ProjectThe Living Legacy Pilgrimage is an experiential, spiritual journey through Alabama and Mississippi to visit the sites and meet the people who changed the world through the Civil Rights Movement, and specifically, the Voting Rights Movement of the 1950 and ’60s. It’s an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss out! 

3. Hold a worship service or other event commemorating upcoming anniversaries:

  • March from Selma to Montgomery, March 7–25, 1965
  • Murders of Baptist church deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson, February 26, 1965; UU minister Rev. James Reeb, March 11, 1965; and UU civil rights protestor Viola Liuzzo, March 25, 1965
  • Signing of the Voting Rights Act by President Johnson, August 6, 1965

4. Get engaged with voting rights efforts and voter registration, as an individual or as a congregation, in partnership with local and/or national organizations. For resources, visit the ACLUBlack & Brown People VoteNAACP, and VRAforToday.

5. Find out if there is a movement similar to Moral Mondays in your stateSouth Carolina, GeorgiaNew York, and Florida have all launched similar campaigns in recent months. Will your state be next? Learn more and share stories from the Forward Together Movement. Consider using the video “Moral Monday: The Next Steps” by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, and Bill Moyer’s program on the Moral Mondays movement.

6. Learn more about Voting Rights Restoration in your community. Check out the Brennan Center for Justice and the national Ban the Box Campaign to end workplace discrimination.

Why does this matter today?

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

This was a huge blow to democracy. Although we have made significant gains in voting rights, discrimination at the polls cannot be dismissed as a relic of the past. People of color, students, people with disabilities, poor people, immigrants, people with felony convictions, transgender people, people who are homeless, and many others face significant obstacles today in registering to vote and casting ballots.

As we’ve seen over the last few years in states across the country, efforts to suppress the vote continue and, although the tactics have changed, the goal of disfranchisement remains the same. Now is the time to mobilize to defend the freedom to vote.

Why Us?

Defending the freedom to vote has been central to the work of the UUA and at the core of Unitarian Universalism for years. From expanding enfranchisement for women and African Americans to advocating for a path to citizenship for immigrants, from civil rights engagement to taking on the New Jim Crow, as a faith community we are vocal on this issue and have made real change happen throughout history. In addition:

  • Voting rights is written into our principles: “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”
  • We have passed numerous resolutions on voting rights.
  • Unitarians, including Susan B. Anthony, were leaders of the suffrage movement that won the right to vote for women.
  • UUs were deeply engaged in the civil rights movement that included winning passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and UUs Viola Liuzzo and Rev. James Reeb were killed in 1965 while working for voters’ rights in Alabama. Check out this video highlighting civil rights activist Rev. Clark Olsen, a survivor of the attack, commemorating the work of Rev. James Reeb.
  • UUs launched the interfaith Faithful Democracy campaign in 2002 that registered hundreds of thousands of new voters across the country, working with community partners such NAACP, ACORN, and others. UUs also participated in poll watching and monitoring and traveled to areas where voter suppression was occurring.

For more information on UUA resources about Voting Rights click here.