Sunday, June 12, 2011

Speech at Civil Union Law Celebration--06/12/2011

I had the honor of speaking at a celebration of the passage of SB30, the Delaware Civil Union Law, jointly held by the Newark and the Mill Creek Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations, at the Mill Creek church this afternoon. Speakers included Mill Creek leader Linda Lucero, state Senator David Sokola, state Representative John Kowalko, and state Representative Mike Ramone.

My remarks follow:

good afternoon. my name is Paul Baumbach. today I am a man with three hats.

My first hat is as a UU. I am a Unitarian Universalist, a member of the Newark congregation, and chair of UUFN's social justice committee for seven years, through March of this year. During those years I have seen UUs from up and down the state join together, stand up, and speak out, often with one voice. And during those seven years I have seen our state become more just.

Today we are celebrating what we have done in the past. But what lies in our future? That is up to each of us here today. Will UUs and others, up and down the state, sit on our laurels, Or will UUs and others, up and down the state, remain committed to bringing justice to Delaware and our country?

My second hat today is as a Democrat. I serve as the president of the Progressive Democrats for Delaware. We have built and joined coalitions, and have succeeded in opening up our General Assembly, improving our drug laws, pushing for economic justice, environmental justice, and have generally worked to enable us to be proud of our government, or at least a bit more proud. Work like this isn't easy, and doesn't end. But it is very satisfying, and it is critical. What do you currently do, which is satisfying and critical? What new work will you begin tomorrow, that is satisfying and critical?

My final hat today is as a board member of Equality Delaware, which provided me with an opportunity to see an incredible collection of people and organizations. I really cannot say enough good things about Equality Delaware. A thesis could be written on the civil union legislation's game plan, and its execution.

The passage of SB121 required a League of Justice, a collection of super heroes. Many of them are here today, and i apologize for not mentioning each. I would like to spotlight just a few. Who can forget the sight of Representative Melanie George OWNING the floor of the house, as bad mendment after bad amendment was struck down? Several Republican legislators supported this bill, heroically standing up to their caucus colleagues, recognizing that doing the right thing occasionally needs to trump party unity. Charles Campbell King coordinated the phone-banking that empowered our wonderful volunteers to call the legislators who most needed to hear from SB121's supporters. For when the people lead, the leaders WILL follow. Mark Purpura dissected the state legal code, line by line, and created a bill that was incredibly thorough, and then he worked with every critical stake-holder to ensure that their concerns were addressed. The sign of a great leader is that after working together, you would sign up to work with them again in an instant. Lisa Goodman is such a leader, having led this incredible coalition with grace and respect.

Martin Luther king Jr made famous a wonderful quote from the Unitarian Theodore Parker, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Parker was speaking about slavery, but he could have been speaking about relationship equality, the right for each adult to share their life with the person they love.

The path that brought us to this point has been long, but it is unmistakable that in Delaware, it bends towards justice. What will you do to help it bend further toward justice?