Purpose

The intent of this statement is to formalize and define a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender committee (to be known as Equality UUCF) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax. The committee will operate under the auspices of the Social Justice Council and will serve to address issues which directly affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the congregation. The committee will also address social justice issues which affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as a whole.

Mission

The mission of Equality UUCF is two-fold. The first priority will be to promote a safe and welcoming environment for LGBT members of the congregation. This goal will be supported by the Welcoming Congregation task force, a sub committee of Equality UUCF. The Welcoming Congregation task force intends to enhance the welcoming nature of UUCF through the establishment of a cross-functional team, which would ideally include members of the LGBT community, members of other lay ministries and individual members of the congregation. This team will operate as an integrated part of the congregation and will work in conjunction with UUCF staff, lay ministers and the board of trustees to foster a deeper understanding of LGBT members and their lives. The Welcoming Congregation task force will organize and promote activities that foster this end, such as social gatherings at UUCF, discussion groups, covenant groups and more formalized educational offerings such as the Living the Welcoming Congregation curriculum.

The second priority of the committee will be to propagate and support outreach to the LGBT community as a whole. This goal will be pursued through the formation of a separate sub committee. Again, this task force or group will be expected to function in conjunction with UUCF staff, lay ministers and board of trustee members and will operate under the resolutions and intentions of both the UUA and UUCF. This task force may focus on several important legislative issues each year that directly impact the social standing of the LGBT community and that are deemed relevant social justice issues to undertake. The task force may elect to raise awareness of the issue within the UUCF community, or elicit direct support for a particular cause. The task force may interact outside the UUCF community with other recognized religious and secular organizations that stand to promote LGBT equality and foster understanding. These organizations may include other Unitarian Universalist congregations, the UUSJ, the People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, Equality Fairfax, Equality Virginia and other nationally recognized groups.

Rationale

The establishment of Equality UUCF under the Social Justice Council is in keeping with stated goals of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax and supports both the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax’s resolutions and intentions.

In 1970, the general assembly of the UUA passed its first resolution, which urged all people to end discrimination against homosexual and bisexual people. Since 1970, the Assembly has passed (to date) no less than 12 resolutions that stand to end discriminatory practices against LGBT people both within our congregations and in society at large. One such resolution was passed in 1973 and served to establish an office of Gay Affairs. This office (now known as the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender concerns) has led advocacy on a multitude of LGBT issues, which include: advocacy against sodomy laws and against job and housing discrimination, advocacy for ceremonies of union and same-gender marriage, advocacy for the right to serve in the military and to lead congregations as ministers and professionals and advocacy for the right of LGBT people to parent.

Because we believe in the principles of “the inherent worth and dignity of every person;” “justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;” “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;” “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;” and “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part;”* this affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience flows naturally from our tradition of freedom; of creativity; of respect for intuition and reason and life experience; as well as the wisdom of the past.*

UUA Statement of Purposes and Principles

In 1987 the Unitarian Universalist Association established the Common Vision Planning Committee. This committee concluded that many Unitarian Universalist congregations still held negative attitudes and prejudices toward lesbian, gay and bisexual people, which resulted in the exclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual people from their churches. As a result of this research, the 1989 General Assembly voted to implement the Welcoming Congregation program (Attachment 1).

The UUA subsequently recognized the importance of establishing a program that would serve to foster understanding and acceptance of LGBT persons within congregations that had already been certified as Welcoming Congregations. This tradition of continued education and fellowship has been continued and expanded through the development of OBGLTC’s “Living the Welcoming Congregation” curriculum.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax officially became a Welcoming Congregation on Jun. 23, 1994, codifying the congregation’s commitment to inclusion. In addition, UUCF has addressed the rights of the LGBT community as a whole through several resolutions. These resolutions have included the UUCF Policy in Support of Laws Protecting the Rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People, which was adopted by the congregation on Jun. 17, 2001, (see attachment 2) and which states:

That we support the enactment of comprehensive laws protecting the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other aspects of American life and ensuring justice and equality for all regardless of sexual orientation.

This resolution, in conjunction with UUCF’s 1997 Resolution in support of amending the Fairfax County Code to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, provide a framework for the mission(s) of Equality UUCF. UUCF is a congregation with a rich history of social justice action. Many UUCF members have participated in meetings, rallies, marches, fund raisers and political activities driven by the desire to secure social and legal equality for all LGBT persons. Equality UUCF intends to build on this history and continue the work for LGBT inclusion and equality.

Attachment 1: 1989 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly Resolution

WHEREAS the survey conducted by the Common Vision Planning Committee has shown that, despite a long and luminous tradition of leadership toward an era of wider justice, inclusion and recognition of the dignity and worth of all, still the fear of same-sex love runs deep among Unitarian Universalist; and

WHEREAS the persistence in our midst of homophobia and heterosexism sorely tests our commitment to our Principles and Purposes; and

WHEREAS Unitarian Universalists have consistently committed ourselves through the General Assembly to the dignity and rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual persons and to their full inclusion in our movement; and

WHEREAS the Welcoming Congregation program has been proposed by the Common Vision Planning Committee and approved by the UUA Board of Trustees as an effective response to the aforementioned concerns and as a model for training in the practice of inclusive community;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1989 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association adopts the recommendation of the Common Vision Planning Committee that the Welcoming Congregation Program be established as set forth in the attachment hereto (Attachment A); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 1989 General Assembly urges the Unitarian Universalist Association Administration to implement this Program through its Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns.

Attachment 2: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax’s 2001 Resolution on the Policy in Support of Laws Protecting the Rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People

WHEREAS, Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and support human rights and equality for all; and

WHEREAS, working for a just and equitable society is central to our religious beliefs and Unitarian Universalists often are in the forefront of social reform; and

WHEREAS, Unitarian Universalists consistently have affirmed the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and in June 1970, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association passed its first General Resolution supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in their struggle for equal rights; and

WHEREAS, on Apr. 10, 1994, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax voted overwhelmingly to officially declare ourselves a Welcoming Congregation; and

WHEREAS, on Dec. 3, 1997, the UUCF Social Justice Council approved a Resolution in Support of Amending the Fairfax County Code to Prohibit Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation; and

WHEREAS, UUCF is committed to being inclusive and expressive of the concerns of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family and friends in all aspects of congregational life; and

WHEREAS, neither Fairfax County nor the Commonwealth of Virginia nor the U. S. Congress has enacted legislation protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, benefits of domestic partnership or other aspects of civic life;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That we call upon all authorities on the local, state and federal level to put an end to discrimination and retaliation against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and people who advocate on their behalf.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That we support the enactment of comprehensive laws protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, public accommodations and other aspects of American life and ensuring justice and equality for all regardless of sexual orientation.