Stances of Faiths on LGBTQ Issues: Unitarian Universalist Association
The Unitarian Universalist church has its roots in the Protestant Reformation, in the early days of Colonial America, and in the Transcendentalist work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Founded in 1793, the Universalist Church of America was grounded in the belief that salvation is universal, experienced by all. The American Unitarian Association, founded in 1825, centers on the belief in a single, united God, in contrast to the doctrine of the Trinity. Recognizing their shared core values – for social justice in particular –the denominations combined in 1961.
While historically Christian, the Unitarian Universalist church today adheres to no religious creed. Instead its members commit to seven principles, beginning with a belief in “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” The church’s history includes active participation in the abolitionist and civil rights movements and in today’s issues of global warming and marriage equality.
According to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) web site, “We not only open our doors to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, we value diversity of sexuality and gender and see it as a spiritual gift. We create inclusive religious communities and work for LGBTQ justice and equity as a core part of who we are.”
In 2007, the General Assembly passed a resolution affirming the inclusion of transgender individuals in its commitment to “the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.” It urged “the expression of this affirmation through employment practices, educational efforts, congregational life, and public witness.” Ongoing efforts include an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, with educational support materials, and a sexual health curriculum that gives equal weight to the transgender experience.
On Marriage Equality
The church has conducted “services of union” for same-sex couples since 1984. In 1996, the General Assembly passed a resolution urging “member congregations to proclaim the worth of marriage between any two committed persons and to make this position known in their home communities.” The UUA has been at the forefront of recent struggles – and victories – for marriage equality.
Ordination is available to all. The church ordained its first female minister in 1863, its first openly gay minister in 1979, and its first transgender minister in 1988.
The General Assembly resolved to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 2007. It called on congregations and individuals to “oppose attempts to remove sexual orientation and/or gender identity” from the legislation, and to “speak out against misleading and false statements . . . particularly those that encourage further intolerance against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.”
While making great strides, the Unitarian Universalist church recognizes a need for further improvement on both the national and local level. Diversity and inclusion can vary between congregations and regions, though the UUA headquarters in Boston provides significant support across the nation. While pursuing its own institutional goals, the church continues to support – and demand – change in the greater community.
Resources for LGBTQ Unitarian Universalists
LGBTQ Welcome & Equality, an LGBTQ outreach program by the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Unitarian Universalist Association
25 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108