| November 2008
Giving Thanks, Giving Back
||The Right to Marry ---BREAKING NEWS---
Civil Rights and Marriage Equality - The Passing of Proposition 8On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, our country witnessed an amazing victory of symbolic equality over discrimination by electing the first African-American president of the United States of America, Barack Obama. It was a thrilling moment for many of us, no matter our background or political view. President-Elect Obama's win is a remarkable triumph of content of character over ethnicity as we enter a new era of American leadership and political direction.
But something else happened that day which reflects just the opposite of civil rights. The people of California had their liberties crushed before them as a measure to ban same-sex marriage was passed during that very same election.
As you may know, Handfastings.org is a supporter of same-sex marriage. So we were very saddened to learn when Proposition 8, the measure banning gay marriage, was passed in the State of California. As a result of this, real people will be denied important rights. While amendments to ban gay marriage also were approved in Arizona and Florida on the same day, it is California that had already legalized marriage earlier this year. This is a huge step backwards for many people.
Back on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court had voted 4 to 3 that a state ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The Los Angeles Times stated that the ruling also elevated sexual orientation to the constitutional status of race and gender, an elevation that provides strong legal protection from discrimination. So the anti-gay marriage measure that was passed November 4th is an illegal constitutional revision because it fundamentally alters the guarantee of equal protection.
We at Handfastings.org feel that this measure is a direct attack on people's civil liberties - freedoms that American civil rights leaders fought so hard for during the past 40 years. True, Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly may not have had gay marriage in mind as a Christian pastor when he led the civil rights movement in the 1960s. But as our country has evolved over the past 40 years as to enable us to elect the best candidate for President, black or white, man or woman, so have our individual American freedoms -including the freedom of religion, and therefore, the right to marry.
It is the evolution of a nation that enables us to expand upon and redefine what our rights are as Americans. We cannot stand by and uphold archaic laws that no longer apply to our contemporary principles as a nation that has resolutely chosen to look ahead to the future.
This new ban on gay marriage will not only refuse these families access to the more than 1,000 federal benefits of marriage-including health care coverage, hospital visitation rights, and family medical leave-but will likely result in many families losing benefits they now have as state and local laws are overturned to comply with the federally-mandated definition.
This newly passed measure creates religious discrimination. Religious marriage and civil marriage are different, and each religious group is free to define marriage in its own way. This right to religious freedom is protected by the Constitution and will not be affected by any state or federal court decisions on marriage. People of faith and goodwill can and do disagree about what constitutes marriage. However, this measure will ensure that a single, religiously-biased definition of marriage will become the law of the land.
In doing so, the Constitution will itself become an instrument of religious discrimination rather than a protection against it. Any federal definition of marriage should be based on public interest, not divisive political maneuvering that favors only one religious viewpoint. Again, the real issue here is which families have access to the economic and legal benefits of civil marriage.
This amendment would eviscerate one of America's core Constitutional principles-the right to equal protection. Amending the Constitution solely to discriminate against a particular group of Americans is unethical, unfair, and wrong-especially at a time when public opinion on marriage is changing rapidly. We should continue our proud national tradition of expanding rights through the Constitution-not creating categories of second-class citizenship.
What will the fate be for more than 18,000 same-sex couples who became legally married in the state of California between May 15th and November 4th? As of this writing their marriages are recognized, but certain groups are now trying to reverse the legality of their marriages since Proposition 8 was passed on Tuesday. If you are married - gay or straight - can you imagine having the government taking away the rights you currently have? This is an abomination.
Families need more support in this country, but it cannot be accomplished by writing discrimination into our Constitution. We need policies that will help create as many stable, healthy families as possible-not impose definitions of what constitutes a family.
Special thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Associations of Congregations for their talking points on marriage equality.
What Can I do to Fight for Equal Marriage Rights?
Whether or not you live in California, it's important to voice your opinion on this significant issue.
· Make in-state lobby visits
· Write your local congressperson and legislators
· Support social justice work that supports same-sex marriage
Here are some important links for you to visit:
Re-open Proposition 8 for California
Unitarian Universalist Associations of Congregations
Take Action Now!
Get Busy. Get Equal.
Human Rights Campaign
Join the Million Gay March newsletter for updates on lobbying, petitions, and rallies:
||Being Thankful, Giving Back
Supporting Pagan Troops during the Thanksgiving and Yule SeasonsHandfastings.org would like to highlight a special program run by Circle Sanctuary called Operation Circle Care. Gaia Works, an organization dedicated to serving the greater Pagan community, is working in conjunction with Circle Sanctuary to send care packages to deployed Pagan soldiers stationed overseas.
Our friend Dave at Gaia Works says that donated items should be things that are small and easy to mail. Some of these things are:
· Pagan music CD's
· Witches Calendars
· Altar cloths for the Sabbats and Moon Circles
Deployed Pagan soldiers have very little in the way of religious items, so your donations make a huge difference in their lives. Give back to the men and women who fight for our freedoms and risk their lives for us! Please send your donations to:
204 S. Audubon Road
Indianapolis, IN 46219
A note from Rev. Paula Johnson, Coordinator of Operation Circle Care:
"One of the MOST important things Pagans can do to support Operation Circle Care is to sponsor the postage needed to send a care package. This is our largest expense. One care package costs $10.00 to send before we even add the contents. We need the community to sponsor soldiers by paying the mailing expense to send a care package."
"Operation Circle Care was a huge success last year because of community support. Requests are starting to come in and it is our hope to honor and remember each and every Pagan soldier we can with a special personalized gift for Yule just as we did last year."
If you have any questions, you may contact Rev. Paula Johnson, Coordinator of Operation Circle Care, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amazing Grace -
Being Thankful, Getting Involved
The time between Samhain and Yule is a time of thanks and abundance as well as introspection as we near the peaceful solitude of Winter. The Final Harvest is over, and we have stored away our vegetation and other goodies to sustain us through the coming season. On Halloween, we opened our doors to neighbors, honoring the Gods with treats. Now, during this "between season," we keep our doors open to those who are less fortunate than we. We welcome those whose harvest was perhaps not as abundant as ours and look at them as our sisters and brothers, rather than as strangers.
Many of us begin volunteering at soup kitchens, donating to our favorite charities or otherwise serving our communities by giving our time to non-profit programs.
In addition to Operation Circle Care, Handfastings.org has some other suggestions for our readers to explore that closely resonate with Handfastings.org's values (this is a short, and by no means, complete list):
Freedom of Religion
Lady Liberty League
American Civil Liberties Union
Freedom to Marry
Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network
Global Fund for Women
Dress for Success Worldwide
Promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
Susan G. Komen Foundation
Breast cancer awareness
Women in Art
The Leeway Foundation
Providing annual grants to women and transgender artists who inspire social change
Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary
Sponsored by the established Aquarian Tabernacle Church, the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary is one of the first accredited seminaries in the U.S. dedicated to Pagan theology and Wiccan studies - and the first of its kind to offer live online classes with audio/visual teacher-student interaction.
Neo-Pagan news and networking; a community driven resource
Pagan Education Network (PEN)
WE Campaign - The Alliance for Climate Protection
Former Vice President Al Gore is co-founder and Chairman focusing on a new approach to climate protection through sustainable investing.
Environmental Working Group
Getting green, natural resources, pollution solutions, and more
National Museum of the American Indian
Advancing knowledge and understanding of the native cultures of the Western hemisphere
American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation
Committed to the repatriation of American Indian ceremonial material
Adopt-a-Native Elder Program
Creating a bridge between Native Americans and other cultures
California Basket Weavers Association
Animal Protection and Shelter
World Wildlife Fund
Honoring the Golden-Breasted Goddess VasudharaLike her Hindu counterpart Lakshmi, Vasudhara is the Buddhist goddess of wealth, good fortune, and abundance. Sometimes pictured as a six-armed goddess, She is seated at ease, holding four precious, life-sustaining symbols: a book of knowledge, a sheaf of grain, an auspicious water-filled vessel, and a cluster of jewels.
This excerpt borrowed from Patricia Telesco's 365 Goddesses:
"In India, Vasudhara provides us with enough abundance to be able to give back freely of what we receive. Vasudhara's golden color alludes to some solar attributes, including manifesting financial prosperity for those who call upon her. In her wealth-giving aspect, Vasudhara sometimes appears as a cow."
The themes for this time of year are religious devotion, charity, thankfulness and abundance.
This is a great time of year to reflect upon your own values and ideals and give your thanks, time or money to your favorite non-profit organization or worthy cause. Acts of kindness are a type of stewardship that reflects Vasudhara's spirit by blessing others.
To strengthen your actions of volunteering, donation and stewardship, you may wish to honor the Goddess by wearing gold to draw prosperity back to you. Light a golden candle and reflect upon what makes you thankful. Between now and Thanksgiving, make a short list of items everyday for which you are thankful. There are no "rights" or "wrongs," so be as creative as you like! Or you may choose to write thank-you letters to people who have somehow touched your life deeply, whether living or departed.
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Love and Light,
Artemisia Shira TarantinoHandfastings.orgJoining Hearts in Perfect Love™