The Unitarian Universalist
Association and the Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a liberal
religious organization, serving the "UU" congregations in North America. Its churches
and fellowships total approximately 150,000 members. The UUA was formed in 1961-MAY-11
from the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist Churches. They have long been active
promoters of equal rights for all, having been very prominent in the fight against
segregation, for access to abortion, and for equal rights for women. They are continuing this tradition by advocating equal rights for
lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender individuals (LGBT).
The UU Association was the first large religious organization in North America to
welcome homosexuals and bisexuals as full members, eligible to become clergy. They were
also the first major religious group to open an office to in support of equal civil rights
for (and social acceptance of) gays and lesbians. This was expanded to
include both bisexual and transgender people. In the past, they have been
viewed as one of the most liberal of the large Christian denominations. Currently, only about
of their members consider themselves to be Christians; many individuals and religious groups do not consider them
a Christian denomination.
In 1970, their General Assembly passed a resolution to oppose laws which criminalized
some forms of adult consensual sexual activity, which discriminated against gays and
lesbians in employment, and which restricted US government issuance of security
clearances, visas and citizenship. This led to the creation of an Office on Gay
Affairs in 1973
In 1977, the General Assembly passed a resolution calling on its congregations to fight
misinformation being disseminated against homosexuals. A second resolution
called for an end to persecution and intolerance of gays.
In 1980, they passed a resolution urging the UUA to help openly homosexual
and bisexual clergy find postings.
In 1984, they passed a resolution affirming the use of "services of union" to recognize committed same-sex relationships. This was over two decades before the Canadian Parliament legalized gay marriages in Canada and was over three decades before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across the U.S.
In 1987 they called upon the UUA to promote the annulment of sodomy laws and
the creation of laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. "Sodomy" was considered to include all non-procreative sexual activity between two humans including sex with the use of contraceptives.
In 1990, the Welcoming Congregation Handbook was written by Rev. Scott W. Alexander, the Director of the Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns. It featured resources to help congregations to welcome people of all sexual orientations.
In 1993, they publicly protested North Carolina's anti-sodomy laws. the General
Assembly also formally endorsed the March on Washington for Lesbians, Gay and Bisexual
Equal Rights and Liberation."
In 1994, they supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which
would prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
In 1996, prior to the UUA General Assembly meeting in JUN in Indianapolis IN, the UUA
Board of Trustees and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association had
voted in favor the legalization of same-sex marriages. At the General Assembly meeting a Resolution
of Immediate Witness in support of the legalization of same-sex marriages was
presented to the delegates. Couples who had been joined in a Ceremony of Union were
specifically invited to attend and be recognized. The resolution noted that for the
previous 26 years, the UUA had "adopted numerous resolutions... supporting equal
rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, including support for
Ceremonies of Union between members of the same sex". They urged its
congregations to "take an affirmative position in support of the value of marriage
between any two committed persons, whether of the same or opposite sexes, and to make
those positions known in their home communities." The resolution passed with only
a few dissenting votes among the approximately 1700 delegates.
In 1997, they passed a resolution encouraging the patronage of businesses
that have policies of non-discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and
In 1999, a new edition of the Welcoming Congregation Handbook was written to include more material on gender identity, bisexual identity, and race/ethnicity and sexuality.
On 2004-MAY-20 same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. Unitarian Universalist
churches in the state took a major role in solemnizing same-sex
marriages, and celebrating the availability of marriage to same-sex
couples for the first time in the U.S.
By mid 2006-JUN, half of all UUA congregations in the U.S. had become welcoming congretations.
In 2014, the Welcoming Congregation Handbook was discontinued. Resources on the topics that were covered by the handbook are now accessible on the UUA web site. 3
Their web site states:
"At the United Nations, we use the term Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) more often than lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) in order to encompass and represent all peoples who fall in the sexual orientation and gender identity spectrum. The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) is committed to bringing SOGI/LGBTQ human rights to the forefront of the UN agenda. 4
Links to current activities on LGBT topics can be found by Googling: LGBT human rights site:www.uua.org
Interweave Continental, Inc is an organization affiliated with the UUA and composed of
Unitarian Universalist members. They are:
"... dedicated to the spiritual,
political, and social well-being of Unitarian Universalists who are confronting
oppression as lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender persons, and their
heterosexual allies; and facilitates the celebration of the culture and lives of
its members. who promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender concerns." 2
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- The UUA had prepared a list of resolutions produced by its General
Assembly on a variety of human sexuality topics from 1963 to the present
time. It was at http://www.uua.org/ but has apparently been removed. However, a similar resource is available at: http://www.uua.org/
- Interweave has a home page at: http://qrd.tcp.com/
- "How to run the welcoming Congregation Program," UUA, 2017, at: http://www.uua.org/
- LGBTQ/SOGI Human Rights Program, UUA, at: https://www.uua.org/
Copyright © 2004 to 2020 by Ontario Consultants on
Original posting: 2004-MAY
Latest update : 2020-JAN-07
Author: B.A. Robinson