Wilmington UUs Tell NCGA – Invest in People, Not Corporations!

On May 2nd, members of the UU Congregation of Wilmington traveled on a bus to Raleigh to participate in the NC Budget and Tax Center’s Our Dollars, Our Future Advocacy Day. They met with our local representatives or their legislative assistants to talk about the state budget and where we thought our tax dollars should be spent.

Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson also spoke at a press conference as part of the day’s events. ”

“A budget is a moral document. It tells a story about who we are, what we value, and what we need to thrive. Right now the powerful few who are drafting this budget are feeding us a false narrative – justifying a lack of investment in NC as fiscally responsible. But is in actuality, they are ignoring their moral responsibilities to the people of this state. In the spirit of our state motto – “To be, rather than to seem.” I urge you to interrogate this story that the General Assembly is telling us about the way they spend our money. I urge you to take to heart the stories that have been told today. And I also urge you to interrogate the limits of your imagination for what is possible – with the abundant financial resources at our fingertips.

Friends, this movement of North Carolinians united by this vision – is more powerful than we can even imagine. May we believe, really, truly believe, that a new North Carolina is possible if only we have the moral courage to create it.”

Members of the UU Congregation of Wilmington at May’s Our Dollars, Our Future Advocacy Day

 

North Carolina UU the Vote Launch - Tuesday, May 14th at 7:00pm. Join UU Justice NC and UU's across the state for the official kick-off of our 2024 UU the Vote Campaign. We will be joined by National UU the Vote Organizer, Nora Rasman, Carolina Jews for Justice Executive Director Abby Lublin, and other guests from our partner organizations across NC. This year, our moral legacy is on the line. Together, we can organize the largest activation of UUs in our state's history. Let's get ready to UU the Vote!

Join the Friday Action Hour Community!

Since May of 2020, North Carolina UUs and friends have gathered on Fridays to take action and experience the joy and power of community. Every Friday at 11:00am we recap the past week and take action on the issues impacting our state and country. And there is always great music to help us feel the justice movement in our bones! ALL are welcome! We are also blessed to be joined by Unitarian Universalists, our beloved North Carolina justice partners, and dear friends from outside our state (shout out to our West Virginia fam!).

Schedule of Upcoming Friday Action Hours

Friday, May 3rd - The 2024 Legislative Session has begun, and it looks like the first priority of General Assembly leadership will be to pass a bill that would require all NC sheriffs to cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Join us this Friday as we make calls to our elected officials speaking out against this harmful bill.

 

You can join us every Friday at 11:00am via this Zoom link. And if you can't make it on Fridays, you can still take action at any time - just check out our Weekly action list.

And sign up for our Weekly Friday Action Hour Email that includes a promo of the week's actions, the Zoom link, and the link to our Actions Google Doc.

 

 

Calling all UUs to Raleigh to Protest US Supreme Court Hearing re Oral Abortion Medication

Join UUs and people of faith in defense of medication abortion. On March 26th, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning Mifepristone and the FDA. Currently the majority of abortions are by medicine and use Mifepristone.
To protest the action of SCOTUS, NC people of faith will gather that same day on Tuesday, March 26th on the steps of the Terry Sanford Federal Building in Raleigh at 310 New Bern Ave., from 10-12:00. This rally is being organized by the Community Church of CH UU in collaboration with the Triangle Interfaith Reproductive Justice Coalition. Please bring a carload from your church/fellowship and bring signs. Here is rally info.
 
At the same time there will be a major protest in Washington D.C., organized by the Women’s March. Over 100 people are expected to be arrested on the 26th.
 
While Walgreens and CVS recently announced they will distribute this medication in their pharmacy as prescribed by the pharmacist, the SCOTUS is looking at limiting, if not banning, access to the medication. Mifepristone has been available and used for over 20 years.
 
I hope to see you there on the 26th. The eyes of history are upon us. Any questions, contact melvafokun@gmail.com.

Thank you to everyone who participated in-person and across the state for Every Child NC's Leandro Day of Action for Education Rights. On February 22nd, the State Supreme Court again heard oral arguments in the Leandro School Funding Case. Despite the landmark victory for public school funding in 2022, a change in the political make-up of the courts has prompted an unprecedented and unjust rehearing of the case. Over 50 UUs from across 9 congregations showed up in Raleigh and other made phone calls and wrote Letters to the Editor to demand that children finally receive the sound, basic education promised to them in our state's constitution.

Members of the UU Congregation of Wilmington singing "Lead with Leandro!"

January 22nd, 2024 marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which once guaranteed a woman’s right to abortion. Unfortunately that right was tragically taken away in the Dobbs Decision in June of 2022 by the conservative majority of the US Supreme Court. This decision returned to the states the right to pass abortion control bills. That was a horrific step backward for women’s right to bodily autonomy and control of their lives.
In Raleigh this year on Jan. 22nd, there was an historic and spirited Reproductive Justice Rally and Media Conference lead by Interfaith spiritual leaders, held in the Bicentennial Plaza, across from the NC General Assembly building. The Community Church of Chapel Hill UU took the lead in initiating the idea, organizing the Rally, and by providing two UU speakers – Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson and Melva Fager Okun. They were joined by 8 other religious leaders – including rabbis and ministers from several denominations. Here is a link to the full media conference with speeches by dynamic religious leaders.

Melva Fager Okun speaking at 1/22’s Interfaith Reproductive Justice Event in Raleigh.

 

The Community Church organized a bus to the event and helped underwrite the cost. The bus transported 56 Rally participants from Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, including ministers and rabbis. Riders enthusiastically sang their way to Raleigh. Five ministers from the Community Church attended the rally, including Rev. Thom Belotte, Rev. Alison Eskildsen, Rev. Jenn Kapranov, Rev. Ruth Gibson, and Rev. Lisa Garcia Sampson. Proudly enough, the Community Church sent the largest number of attendees to the Rally from all the congregations in the Triangle Interfaith Reproductive Justice Coalition. The Coalition helped organize their congregations to attend. ERUUF and the UU Raleigh Fellowship also attended the Rally and are members of the Triangle Interfaith Reproductive Justice Coalition.
Blog written by UU Justice NC’s Reproductive Justice Lead- Melva Fager Okun. If your UU congregation is interested in learning more about joining the Interfaith Reproductive Justice Coalition, please contact melvafokun@gmail.com.

National UU the Vote 2024 Launch - March 14th!

Thursday, March 14th from 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM ET We enter the work of UU the Vote 2024 grounded in the current political and spiritual conditions of our faith and national community. The work that is needed in 2024 will require us to anchor in our power and connect authentically to mobilize UUs, voters, and our local communities. UU the Vote 2024 is an ambitious strategy to grow a powerful pro-democracy majority. Join Side With Love for the kick-off of UU the Vote 2024, where you’ll learn about the electoral work of State Action Networks (like North Carolina!), their partners in key states, and more!

Register Here: https://secure.everyaction.com/15gwk4JrxUO2eEcwBkgl0w2

*** North Carolina UU the Vote Launch Date - Coming Soon!

In 2020 UU the Vote became the largest activation of UUs in the history of our faith. New technology brought us into deeper relationship with our justice partners, and with fellow UUs across the state, and across the country. And we reached out to over three million people. That is the power of our faith. That moment pushed us to interrogate the limits of our imagination for what is possible. What we are capable of.

Last year’s 2022 UU the Vote Campaign, we went even further. Here in North Carolina - 22 UU congregations wrote 34,000 postcards with Reclaim our Vote. We made 36,000 phone calls to voters with Carolina Jews for Justice and the New North Carolina Project.

Finally, we contributed to voter safety, security and joy at the polls through four layers of volunteer opportunities during early voting and election day as, election workers through your local Board of Elections, Vote Protectors through our friends at Democracy NC, You Can Vote Help Desk Volunteers, and Volunteers at a Blueprint NC Safe Sites. In 2024, we ask all UUs in North Carolina to discern how they can contribute to safety, security and joy at the polls!

This spring, we are excited to launch our 2024 North Carolina UU the Vote Campaign. During this critical election cycle, we know that hate and anti-democratic values will be on the ballot in our local, state, and national elections. In order for us to powerfully meet the moment, we'll need to activate more North Carolina UUs than ever before in our history. Stay tuned for more information on how to get involved!

Gathering to Renew Our Faith in the Power of our Movement!

Thank you to everyone who joined us on October 7th online and in-person for our State-Wide Annual Gathering! It was a joyful celebration of all the ways we have contributed to the movement for justice in 2023, and a sobering look at the growing threats we face as a democracy. It also called us to renew our faith that a New North Carolina is possible, if we have the courage to create it.

In 2024, the stakes will be even higher. Hate and anti-democratic values will be on the ballot in our local, state, and national elections. And, in order for us to powerfully show up for this moment, we will need to activate more North Carolina UUs than ever before in our history. That work begins today, through our investment in this urgent, life-saving ministry.

Will you consider making a donation to UU Justice NC today?

 

Celebrating Medicaid Expansion!

In 2023, we celebrated the largest win that our state justice ministry has ever been a part of - the expansion of Medicaid to over 600,000 people across North Carolina! Since 2021, UU Justice NC has been proud to contribute to the movement for Medicaid Expansion as part of both the NC People's Budget and Health Action NC Coalitions.

Together, UUs across the state have written letters to the Editor, postcards, made hundreds of phone calls, participated in rallies and vigils and the state general assembly, and showed up at the offices of our elected officials to demand action. Even our children and youth have gotten involved - making "Love thy Neighbor! Expand Medicaid!" Valentines that were distributed to state elected officials during out February 2023 Advocacy Day at the General Assembly. This is faith in action.

In September of 2023, we lived our values by showing up in solidarity with North Carolinians who were directly impacted by the healthcare coverage gap. UUs from across the triangle accompanied two individuals with life threatening medical conditions to the offices of Sen. President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. In partnership with the NC Justice Center, we sent a loud and clear message to  Stop gambling with people's lives! Enact Medicaid Expansion NOW!

On December 1st, 2023, Medicaid Expansion was finally enacted in our state. Now the work begins to help get people across the state enrolled. In 2024, we will continue to work in close partnership with the North Carolina Justice Center, and encourage NC UUs to become Medicaid Expansion Ambassadors! For more information about this opportunity, check our their Toolkit on Outreach and Education Strategies.

 

Through a generous $21,000 grant from the UU Funding Program, UU Justice NC is proud to support LGBTQ Inclusion and Advocacy both within and outside the walls of our congregations through our 2024 UU Drag Story Hour Project.
The Goals of project are to:
  • Provide children with the opportunity to experience the imagination and play of gender fluidity and glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models - at a time when content about LGBTQ identities is banned in NC public schools K- grade 4.
  • Help strengthen your congregation’s presence as a beacon of progressive religious values in your community at a time where religion is too often being used as the basis of hateful threats to the safety and rights of LGBTQ+ people.
  • Provide your congregations with the support and resources to develop a deeper understanding of the threats that exist locally / in North Carolina, and practice discerning  how/when your congregation takes risks in service to the movement. Unfortunately, we know that our congregations will have to navigate increased threats and take on more risk in the coming years

Contact LGBTQ Inclusion & Advocacy Organizer - Christine Ashley (Christine@uujusticenc.org

What is Drag Story Hour?

“It’s just what it sounds like! Storytellers using the art of drag to read books to kids. DSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where everyone can be their authentic selves!” dragstoryhour.org  Unfortunately, Drag Story Hours across the state being threatened by extremist groups many of whom do say in the name of religion. Many have had to be canceled, particularly in the greater Charlotte area because of threats from protestors.

Our Unitarian Universalist Faith calls us to work to advance LGBTQ Rights, Safety & Thriving in North Carolina. During the 2023 NC Legislative Session, the General Assembly continued their attacks on the LGBTQ community, and particularly on our youth. (see below) In the coming year, we will continue to advocate for LGBTQ rights at the General Assembly, school board meetings, at LGBTQ events and beyond.

Context - 2023 Attacks on the LGBTQ Community in North Carolina

  • SB 49 - NC’s Don’t Say Gay Bill - Banned any content in grades K-4 about LGBTQ identities - claiming that instruction on LGBTQ+ topics is not "age appropriate." This stigmatizes queer and trans identities.
  • HB 808 - Gender Affirming Care Ban for Minors. This bans gender affirming care for trans youth including surgeries and puberty blockers. Nearly all major medical associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics support this care and oppose laws banning it.
  • HB 574 - Trans Sports Ban  - This is a direct attack on LGBTQ equality that will prevent many trans and intersex kids from participating in athletics, depriving them of the mental and physical benefits of sports.