UU Justice News

     MUUSJN Logo - New  

 

     February - March  2015 
       

 IN THIS EDITION: 

  

- A New MI Interfaith 
Reproductive Justice Coalition Is Born!

- April 14th is Women's Equal Pay Day at the Capitol  

-  Press Conferences for Paid Sick Leave;
Michigan Wants It! 

- ACTION ALERT: 
Oppose Bills That Ok Discrimination in the Name of Religion 

- Update on Marriage Equality in Michigan

-  Commit2Respond
Campaign Invites Your Participation

- Citizens Climate Meeting: March 21st at Birmingham Unitarian Church

- Call to ACTION:
Corporations vs. Community Interest!

Sign up for Free Legislative Advocacy Webinar, March 6th

- Add MUUSJN Links to Your Website 

- It's Time to Renew Your 2015 Membership in Our
Justice Network


 

Faced with threats to oppressed people, our pocketbooks and the environment, progressive people of faith are taking stands for justice. We can not be sure we will "win", but we know our voices must be heard.   In this newsletter, you will learn how you can join MUUSJN, working with our allies, to make a difference. 

 

In February, MUUSJN started a new statewide Interfaith Reproductive Justice Network that immediately decided to join a coalition taking a stand for women's equal pay.  This week, UU's were in the news calling for paid sick leave, something that is overwhelming supported by the Michigan people.  UUs and our allies are promoting support for marriage equality. 

 

We want you to know about a national UUA/UUSC Commit2Repond campaign for climate justice and that a local congregation is involved.  You will learn about actions you can take to push back against corporations that are trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.    

 

February was Jeannie Miernik's last month with MUUSJN. Her work with the UU Church of Greater Lansing is expanding. We will miss you Jeannie! 

Your support for MUUSJN allows us to continue to give voice and visibility for UUs and our progressive allies.  
 
    Gray Panther Convention Logo        

 

Together, we can make a difference! 

   

Randy Block,  Director

www.uujustice.org

www.facebook.org/MUUSJN

 
 A New Michigan Interfaith 
Reproductive Justice Coalition Is Born!

African American Mother with Child Reproductive Justice for All
Interfaith Symbols
 
MUUSJN launched a new Michigan Interfaith Reproductive Justice Coalition on February 25th at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lansing to provide a strong, progressive voice on issues affecting women and families.

Representatives of United Church of Christ, Jewish, Catholic, Episcopal and Unitarian Universalist faiths attending this first coalition meeting agreed that Reproductive Justice means more than a woman's right to abortion and birth control. It means having the right to not have children, the right to have children and the right to have equal access to resources that families, including gay families, need to raise their children.  The group is reaching out to other faith groups.  Please encourage other people in your faith group to sign up to get on a Coalition email list by printing out and distributing this FORM.  

Goals adopted by the Coalition include:
1. Education about reproductive justice values and issues from progressive faith perspectives;
2. Leadership training to develop faith leaders' capacities to educate and activate members of faith communities;  and
3. Legislative advocacy to protect and strengthen reproductive justice options for women and families. 

The following organizations agreed to serve as resources for the new coalition: Planned Parenthood of Michigan; the MIchigan ACLU; the MI LEAD coaltion; the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; and Catholics for Choice. Contact: Randy Block at 248-549-5170.

April 14th is Women's Equal Pay Day 
at the Capitol 

 

Michigan's Equal Pay Day will be held on April 14th to symbolize how far into 2015 women must work to earn what men earned in 2014.  This event demonstrates that there is still a pay gap between women's and men's wages.  People wear red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize that women and minorities are "in the red" with regard to their pay.

The MUUSJN Interfaith Reproductive Justice Coalition, during its first meeting, voted to join the Michigan Equal Pay Day Coalition.  Contact Judy Karandjeff, with the League of Women Voters, for more information at jkarandjeff44@aol.com or 517-332-7825. Judy and Mickey Edell with the AAUW of Michigan and Mary Pollock with Michigan NOW have volunteered to coordinate this event.
Press Events Held March 2nd for Paid Sick Leave 
Poll Shows Bi-partisan Support for It! 


(L-R in back) Rev. Deane Oliva (UU Church of Flint),  Terri Hammond-Cross (UU Church of Flint), Randy B lock (MUUSJN) and Sharon Polk (Riverside Tabernacle Assembly of God in Flint) participated in the Flint press event for paid sick leave. 
Front: Flint Mayor  Dayne Walling and Oakland County Commissioner David Woodward

MUUSJN is a member of a new Paid Sick Leave coalition that held four press conferences on Monday, March 2nd in Flint, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Kalamazoo. Click HERE to read Randy Block's presentation at the Flint event.  Press events were well covered by print and televison media.  
More than half of working mothers (54%) do not have paid sick days they need to care for their sick children.

A new statewide public opinion poll, conducted February 2-4, 2015 by DR denno-research, showed that 86% of all respondents agreed that every worker should be able to earn paid sick days in order to take time off work without losing pay to get well or take care of a family member. The poll further showed that 83% of all respondents supported the state legislature passing a bill that would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. 92% of women, 94% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that all workers should be able to earn paid sick leave. Highest areas of support were in Detroit (100%); the Upper Peninsula (94%), Tri-County/Thumb (90%) and upper lower Michigan and Wayne County (both 88%). 

These strong public support levels suggest that there should be legislative support for two new bills introduced in the Michigan legislature: HB 4167 (Rep. Stephanie Chang -- a UU from Detroit) and SB 101 (Sen. Jim Ananich -- Genesee County).  
ACTION ALERT: 
Oppose Bills That OK Discrimination vs. Gay Families 
 By Child Placement Agencies in the Name of Religion 

Gay men with child gay family - women
On March 4th, the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, on a party-line vote, approved  HB 4188, 4189 and 4190, bills that would allow child placing agencies to legally discriminate against gay families and to put their religious beliefs ahead of the best interests of children. To review MUUSJN's testimony on these bills, click HERE

It is very troubling that the Michigan legislature might adopt legislation that would legalize discrimination against gay families on the verge of a Supreme Court ruling that many believe will affirm the right of gay families to adopt children.  Over 3,000 children are awaiting adoption in Michigan.  Scholars and practitioners in adoption conclude that anti-gay policies discourage adoption by gay and lesbian parents. A study conducted by the University of Maryland confirmed that "anti-gay" states had larger proportions of children lingering in foster care waiting for adoptions.

Call your State Representative.  Click HERE to find your State Representatives and his/her contact information. Tell your legislator:

1. Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. That's why its protected in the state and federal constitutions.  However, that freedom doesn't give any of us the right to harm others.

2. Allowing child placement agencies to refuse to provide services to same sex couples violates our society's basic values and reduces children's opportunities to become adopted by a loving and caring family.

3. Vote NO on HB's 4188, 4189 and 4190.

Please email me (randyblock@yahoo.com) the responses you get from your legislator. 
                   
Update on Marriage Equality in Michigan
                            
On February 28th, lawyers for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that Michigan's ban on sex marriage deprives them and their children the "dignity, security, stability and myriad material and legal protections that marriage brings".  A ruling by the high court is expected in June 2015.

To expand the public's awareness of this issue,  several organizations are working with Michigan for Marriage to hold public forums on same sex marriage:

1. March 29th 11 a.m. to 2 p.m First UU Church of Detroit will include marriage equality as part of their Sunday morning service and also organized a panel discussion on this topic.  Location:  4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit. Call: 313-833-9107

2. April 12th  1:30 - 4 p.m.  Northwest UU Church in Southfield will have a community conversation on marriage equality that includes an attorney for Michigan for Marriage, State Rep. Jeremy Moss and couples who will tell their stories. Call 248-549-5170.

3. April 23    7-9 p.m. UU Fellowship of Central Michigan in Mt. Pleasant will hold a "Community Conversation About LGBT Rights" at the church located at 319 S. University in Mt. Pleasant. Call Norma at 989-560-3952.

Commit2Respond Campaign Invites You to
Be Part of Climate Justice Month: March 22 - April 22nd

Earth

The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, as part of their Commit2Repond campaign, invites you to be part of Climate Justice Month March 22nd to April 22nd.  For more information, go to www.commit2respond.org/sign-up  This site includes daily messages, faith-filled resources, powerful practices and tools to understand how shifting to a low carbon future, advancing human rights and growing the movement are our moral challenge.  MUUSJN is on the Executive Committee of a Coalition of UU State Action Networks (CUUSAN) which now has endorsed this campaign. 
Citizens Climate Workshop  
March 21st at Birmingham Unitarian Church



This workshop, organized by the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), will be held 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Birmingham Unitarian Church located at 38651 Woodward, Bloomfield Hills. Eight  CCL chapters operate as a non-partisan organization in Michigan with the goal of inspiring members of Congress to be leaders for a sustainable climate. Volunteers meet with members of Congress, launch letter writing campaigns, write letters to the editor, etc. advocating for a revenue neutral fee on carbon-based fuels.  This program is considered by BUC to be a "Commit2Respond" activity (see above article).

For more information or to RSVP contact Elizabeth Dell, Michigan CCL Coordinator, michigan@citizensclimatelobby.org or 231-499-6747.  
Call to ACTION:
Corporations vs. Community Interest!

Is Marquette the Canary in the Michigan Coalmine?

   
Heidi Gould, a member of the Marquette UU Congregation who also serves on the Board of her local Peter White Public Library, recently learned that her local library is closing on Sundays because a local corporation, Duke Lifepoint, is using a tax loophole to demand a $30,000 reduction in its property tax through appeals to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Another corporation, Wisconsin Energies, is seeking a tax cut through the Michigan Tax Tribunal that would reduce the library's budget by $300,000. That's just the beginning.    

Heidi has indicated that law firms (she can name names) are approaching big box stores and other corporations in EVERY COUNTY OF MICHIGAN to inform them how they can benefit from this loophole, which essentially would allow a corporation to reduce its property taxes to their "true cash value" by up to two-thirds by claiming their building is vacant!  
For more information on this loophole, click HERE in the September 2013 issue of Michigan Township Voice. 
Click HERE for a more recent news story about how Michigan Tax Tribunal rulings are creating a crises for public services.  


Heidi says, "This is important to people all over our state because these unfair tax loopholes will be contributing to local budget cuts to police, fire, education, roads, veterans services, services for senior citizens, and recreation.  They will affect all of us!"

The Michigan Township Association, the Michigan Association of Counties and the Michigan Tax Assessors Association oppose this raid on public funds. 

Here's What We Can Do:

UP state legislators, Rep. John Kivela and Senator Tom Casperson, introduced bills during the last legislative session (HB 4977 and SB 511) that would close the loopholes. However, because action was not taken in committee on these bills they will need to be reintroduced.  Heidi says that Rep. Kivela has indicated he will reintroduce his bill again. However, he's waiting for the right moment.  Heidi and I say the time is NOW!  

Call your State Representative and your State Senator and urge them to contact Rep. Kivela  and Senator Casperson about co-sponsoring these bills.  Then call or write the following to legislators. Urge them to support legislation that would close the "Big Box" property tax loophole and protect our communities' public services!  

1. Representative Jeff Farrington at
 517-373-7768, jeffFarrington@house.mi.gov 
(He's chair of the House Tax Policy Committee) and 

2. Senator Jack Brandenberg 517-373-7670, senatorjbrandenburg@senate.michigan.gov
He's Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

For more information, contact Heidi Gould at (906) 226-0102.    

Sign up for Free Michigan League for Public Policy Legislative Advocacy  Webinar, March 6th

Michigan Capitol
Join Renell Weathers and Shannon Nobles, Michigan League for Public Policy's outreach staff, for a webinar on Navigating Today's Political Landscape Through Advocacy at 11 a.m. this Friday, March 6th.   Gilda Jacobs, League President and CEO, shares tips from her long career as an elected official, including eight years in the Michigan Senate. 

To get the tools to succeed as a legislative advocate, register HERE


Congregations: Connect with Justice


Add MUUSJN  Links To Your Website

 
If you believe MUUSJN is a resource, you are encouraged to add the above links to your congregation's website so others can connect with justice.  

The Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) is a statewide network of UUs and their allies that provides a progressive voice and visibility on the critical issues of our time in our state. 

    
 

It's Time to Become A Member
of MUUSJN for 2015
rose - romantic

 

 

MUUSJN helps inform and empower UUs and their progressive allies to make a difference for LGBT rights, reproductive justice, immigration and health reform, poverty, the environment, racial justice and prison reform. January 2015  was the start of the Network's new membership year.  

We know that many people can't always do as much as they would like. Your contribution will support others to work for justice in your name. 
 
 

DUES:

Regular individual - $25;

Family - $40;

Silver - $50;

Gold - $100 or

Champion - $250+

Consider making a monthly pledge

Congregation - $100 or SHARE A PLATE COLLECTION 

(Most congregations share one month of plate collections.) 

ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIP - $100 or more.

  

You may use a PayPal link on our website:   www.uujustice.org
or you can pay your dues by checks mailed to: 
Randy Block, 4220 Arlington Dr., Royal Oak, MI 48073.  

  

                    Please write checks to "MUUSJN"  

All contributions are tax deductible