Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: Unitarian Universalist Association
The Unitarian Universalist Association has supported full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people since 1970 — and today markets itself to the LGBT community as an inclusive religious organization.
Openly LGBT people are welcomed as members and may hold any church office. The UUA supports marriage rights for same-sex couples. It also has called for legislation to prohibit discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Unitarian Universalist Association has 183,000 members, according to the 2000 estimate from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.
In a promotional brochure, the Unitarian Universalists state:
“Whenever Unitarian Universalists are called on to take a position on bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender issues, the sentiment is always overwhelming: the human family is one, and the fears and hatred that divide us must be overcome. Human loving and human sexuality are also sacred when shared between members of the same gender. The culture and history of bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender people is important to all of society.”
UU congregations may elect to join the Welcoming Congregation program and participate in workshops on gender socialization, homophobia and religious perspectives on homosexuality. The UUA also makes available The Welcoming Congregation Handbook: Resources for Affirming Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and/or Transgender People for congregations to use in developing programs and services.
As of 2004, more than 43 percent of UU congregations were officially recognized Welcoming Congregations. In addition, all UU congregations are guided by resolutions calling for them to welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and oppose any form of discrimination against LGBT people.
In 2002, the Rev. Sean Dennison became the first out transgender person to serve as the parish minister of a UU congregation, in Salt Lake City.
In 1984, the UUA General Assembly passed a resolution affirming the right of UU ministers to perform same-sex union ceremonies, and clergy have performed them ever since.
In 2004, Unitarian Universalist congregations and clergy took the lead in performing wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples in Massachusetts, the first state to make marriage legal for same-sex couples. Local congregations advertised their availability for ceremonies in LGBT publications, while some UU ministers went to town and city halls to perform wedding ceremonies for any couple who requested one. Some congregations also held celebrations of marriage equality during their Sunday services. Hillary and Julie Goodridge, the lead plaintiffs in the case that made marriage legal for same-sex couples in Massachusetts, were married May 17, 2004, at church’s headquarters in Boston by the Rev. William G. Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
In addition, the church openly opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, which proposed to write discrimination against same-sex couples into the U.S. Constitution. It was defeated in the U.S. Senate in July 2004.
Opposition to Discrimination
The Unitarian Universalist Association has opposed discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS status since 1986. It also opposes discrimination against LGBT people in the U.S. military and has endorsed the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
A resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1987 requires that members of the church voice their dissatisfaction with local laws that discriminate against LGBT people:
“When denominational meetings are held in locations where [anti-LGBT] discriminatory laws exist, Unitarian Universalists planning and attending the meetings are urged to adopt creative program methods to support rescission of laws governing private sexual behavior between consenting adults and to support passage of laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
In 2004, the General Assembly passed a resolution advocating public school sex education curricula that include teaching about heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Education on LGBT Issues
Since the 1970s, the Unitarian Universalists have produced curricula on LGBT people for their congregations. Today, the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns offers numerous educational resources, such as the “Same-Sex Wedding Guide” and “Pre-Marital Counseling Guide for Same Gender Couples.” It also offers materials on issues relating to transgender people and bisexuality, as well as background information on homosexuality and LGBT issues in general.
Resources for LGBT Unitarian Universalists
- Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns.
- Freedom to Marry, for All People is a section of the Unitarian Universalist website devoted to marriage equality.
- Interweave: Unitarian Universalists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns is a membership organization for LGBT UUs and straight allies.
- UUA's Washington Office for Advocacy
If you would like to communicate with the Unitarian Universalist Association, here is their mailing address:
Unitarian Universalist Association
25 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108