UUA President Issues Statement on Historic Decisions on Marriage Equality

PeterThe Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), issued this statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decisions on marriage equality:

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court of our country, stood on the side of love with its decision in United States v. Windsor declaring that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.

This is a proud and momentous day for all who have suffered under this law and felt discrimination based on their sexual orientation. It is a victory for the principle that civil rights belong to all.

In the Proposition 8 case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, essentially paving the way for marriage equality in California.

While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court did not declare the freedom to marry as a constitutionally-protected “equal protection” right that would apply to all states, I applaud this historic step towards equality.

The Unitarian Universalist Association joined two amicus curiae briefs in these cases with other religious organizations in support of marriage equality. In both cases, the UUA argued that a broad cross-section of religious denominations recognize the dignity of lesbian and gay people and their relationships, recognize the necessary distinction between civil and religious marriage, and recognize that civil marriages of same-sex couples will not impinge upon religious beliefs or practices, but rather will prevent one set of religious beliefs from being imposed on others through civil law.

Unitarian Universalists have been vocal supporters of marriage equality for decades.  I thank them for their dedicated commitment to our Unitarian Universalist principle of affirming the worth and dignity of every person.

There is still so much work to be done to ensure equal protection for all who live and love in our country. As we know, marriage equality strengthens families, protects children, and ensures the basic rights of citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples.

It remains my fervent hope that soon marriage equality is afforded to all in this country. Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love with all families.”


DRUUMM has an ad in the GA Program Book and there will be information at the DRUUMDRUUMM logoM booth. 

  Here is the schedule:

     Wed. June 19 1:00-2:00 p.m.:

     Surviving GA for People of Color

     Thurs. June 20 10:15-11:45 p.m.:

     DRUUMM gathering/worship

     Sat. June 22 1:45-3:00 p.m.:

     DRUUMM annual business meeting

     Sat. June 22 10:15-11:45 p.m.: DRUUMM gathering/worship

Closeted No More

Closeted No More,blog pic of Laila

by, Laila Al-Shamma

This was originally published in the April 2013 issue of MavLife News, the school newspaper for La Costa Canyon High School.

Everyone knows what it means to “come out of the closet.”  But nobody ever asks how people get into the closet in the first place, and what’s it like in there, anyway?

People locked me in the closet from the moment I was born.  Along with all the other gender stereotypes, they presumed that one day I’d like boys, marry a man and be heterosexual, just like my parents. I was never asked, “Well, Laila, do you identify as heterosexual, or homosexual?” no one ever consulted me on that one.  Everyone always assumed (and they still do) that I identified as heterosexual and they put me in a category and that category became a closet. Once I realized that I wasn’t heterosexual the walls of the closet started suffocating me.

I admitted to myself that I was gay around seventh or eighth grade.  I went through a lot of denial before I had the guts to write down on paper that I was gay. That was on paper. I still struggle simply saying the words out loud.

I was in middle school between 2008 and 2010; at that time studies showed that nine out of ten gay students experienced bullying or harassment in school.  Stories in the news and at home popped up about gay people getting bullied, beaten up, losing the support of their family and friends, losing their jobs, even committing suicide.  When I came out to my younger sister, she began to cry.  She said she was scared that I would get beaten up at school.

Each day I heard “That’s so gay,” or “don’t be such a fag” many times. I remember that a few of my close friends sometimes expressed disgust or disapproval of being gay.  Homosexuality was paired with nothing but negativity and shame.  That kind of social pressure pushed in the walls of my closet and instilled deep fear in me.  I was so afraid of anyone finding out that I was gay that I disguised parts of my personality. I lied to most of my close friends about who I had a crush on.  I avoided any clothing that insinuated masculinity.  At times I even tried to make my voice sound a little higher so that I could appear more feminine.  In acting class I was cast as a leading male character and almost turned it down because I was so worried what people might think.  I silenced myself and I silenced who I really was, all out of fear.

This fear continued into high school.  Even after coming out to my immediate family and close friends, I never talked about my sexual identity in public. I had to filter everything I said. The simplest everyday conversations brought up internal struggles.  Imagine having people constantly ask you what boy you want to ask to formal.  Then you have this sinking feeling in your stomach because you can either tell the truth (“Actually, I’m gay and really want to ask this girl I met at a party”) and risk your entire friendship, or you can lie (“I don’t really have anyone in mind, so I’m just going stag”) and stay safe. You must deny that this part of you even exists. At all costs you must keep silent.

That’s the silence that the Day of Silence aims to end.  When I see some of my peers wearing red or supporting the Day of Silence, I immediately trust them. I know that they will accept me when they find out I’m gay; they will stand by me as allies without judgment.  All of a sudden, the walls of my closet stop closing in and start easing up. I can feel a little safer prying open that closet door.

To end the silence faced by teens like me everywhere, I’ve written this piece. I can count the openly gay students at this school on my fingers; it’s not right that so many of our peers are silent. If you are closeted and need help, I support you.  Our Gay Straight Alliance meets every Tuesday and every member of that club supports you.  A vast majority of our staff and administration support you.  Stand up to the silence in your own life.

I’ll leave you with this: writing this piece was not easy. I procrastinated for weeks, not because I didn’t want to write it, but because I had to build up the confidence to do so. I’m not sure how this will be received. I expect that some of my peers will stop talking to me, and I’m worried that some may even bully me.  But I think more friends will be moved into action.

Think about the voices you are not hearing today.  What will you do to end the silence?

UUA President’s Statement on the Boy Scouts of America Decision

PeterThe Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), issued the following statement reacting to the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) historic decision:

“Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America took a historic step towards equality by agreeing to admit openly gay scouts. But this decision falls short of affirming the worth and dignity of all who would like to participate in scouting.

“While long opposing the BSA’s discriminatory policies, the UUA has consistently noted the many benefits that scouting offers to boys and young men, and we applaud the fact that these benefits will now be available to all male youth who want to participate in scouting.

“However, it remains wrong to continue to discriminate against scout leaders, Eagle Scouts, and parents. I fear the continued discrimination against gay adults sends the wrong message to gay youth. These youth will not feel fully accepted into the scouting family.

“Discrimination based on sexual orientation does not belong in scouting and is inconsistent with the BSA’s own values of respect and kindness.

“Unitarian Universalists remain hopeful that one day soon the BSA will change its remaining policies of discrimination and prejudice to ones of inclusion and respect for all who wish to participate in scouting at every level.”

UU College of Social Justice

UU College of Social JusticeAs a UUCSJ Program Leader you will be on the front lines of facilitating social justice education to your UU peers. This gets personal: you will be helping people understand how race, class, and gender shape our society, and their own lives.  You will help people gain an understanding of their own faith, and how that faith informs their justice work. And you will be providing tangible, replicable skills for people to envision and create communities of peace and justice.

For more information click here.



Unitarian Universalism in a Thousand Wordsblog pic pilgrim-seeing-through-300x236

by James Ishmael Ford

Back in the mid nineteen seventies, after I left the Zen monastery that had been my home for several years, I stumbled upon an early nineteenth century pamphlet titled “Unitarian Christianity.” After reading it I immediately looked for where the local Unitarian church was, now called, I saw Unitarian Universalism. I fell asleep during the service. But, later, at the coffee hour I met with people who intrigued me, fascinated me, and eventually opened a new spiritual way for me.

Over the years that have followed I’ve reflected on this tradition, a lot, where it comes from, what it is, and where it is heading.

Personally, at the beginning, I blame the Enlightenment.

In the eighteenth century when Europeans and North Americans noticed they could take the same skills that were revealing the secrets of the natural world to the workings of the mind and heart and even to their religions, something wondrous birthed into the world. It would variously be called rational religion and liberal religion.

Throughout the eighteenth century some broad principles were worked out through a critical engagement with traditional Christian doctrines and texts. One scholar tagged these as freedom, tolerance, and reason. While these currents would find homes in nearly all religions, by the first decades of the nineteenth century in North America two denominations emerged that were particularly devoted to this approach, the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association. Despite their deep similarities, for various reasons it would take more than a hundred years for these two communities to consolidate. Finally in 1961, they did, forming the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Each brought a distinct style to the party. In the middle of the nineteenth century a Universalist minister Thomas Starr King called to the Unitarian pulpit in San Francisco was asked how he saw the two denominations. Arguably the first Unitarian Universalist, he replied dryly the Universalists believed God too good to damn humanity, while the Unitarians felt they were too good to be damned. In this little joke we can see these two styles. The Universalists focused on the matters of heart with the slogan “love over creed,” while the Unitarians focused on ethics and the good life with the slogan “salvation by character.”

By the Twentieth century these styles emerged as a naturalistic religion, concerned with life in this world. For a while it would be closely identified with humanism, but unlike organized humanism Unitarian Universalism felt no need to disassociate itself from the family of religions. However this religion was a radical departure from the Abrahamic faiths. Through its own evolution a religion emerged that more closely resembles the traditions of ancient China, Confucianism and particularly Taoism than any of the other Western traditions.

Those who have gathered together under the Unitarian Universalist flag are notoriously resistant to labeling, hostile to anything that might look like a creed. Nonetheless, in 1985, with a second round of voting at our annual convention, the General Assembly of the UUA established a statement of principals and purposes, which were incorporated into the bylaws of the Association.

While the target of disdain from many within, particularly that so much of it is vague and “mom and apple pie,” there are three of the principals which I think speak to the shape of contemporary Unitarian Universalism. Two are theological assertions. And the other speaks to a style.

The first of the theological assertions is that every individual has value. This intuition is grounded in the seventh assertion in the principals that everything is bound up together in a vast web of intimacy. Taken together numerous ethical and social and spiritual concerns arise. How do we live if we feel each of us has significance, value, and that we are all of us related? And, more, what if we see that we are completely a part of this world? Over the years people have taken up one or another of the consequences that follow these intuitions.

The other point is enshrined, at least until there’s another vote, as the fourth principle, which is a call to a “free and responsible” search for meaning. Here we opened ourselves to the full range of spiritual disciplines from prayer to meditation to critical analysis, but always with the call to test whatever we find in conversation within a spiritual community predicated upon a covenant of presence to our own minds and hearts and to each other.

While the radical freedom of this tradition means people can join and do pretty much nothing, to genuinely honor the tradition means taking our lives seriously, to engage that free and responsible quest, to understand deeply what the preciousness of the individual might mean within the context of radical intimacy. I’ve noticed people tend to do this in two ways.

The first is to take these intuitions and style and live them within a larger faith stance. This is sometimes called the great hyphen. Among others there are UU Christians, UU Jews, UU pagans and UU Buddhists. I’m a UU Buddhist. I’m deeply convinced of the principal insights of Gautama Siddhartha, Buddhism’s founder and more the Chan masters of China and their followers in Japan’s Zen schools. And, I engage this tradition as a religious liberal, bringing my confidence in the abilities of ordinary people within all cultures to find everything necessary in this life, to the great matters of life and death. I’ve seen UU Christians do the same thing, with similar success in the transformation of heart.

But, also, I’ve seen people grow wise in this tradition without any hyphens. Simply looking at their own hearts and minds, paying attention to how we each arise in this world precious, and how we are all wound up together vastly more intimately than we can ever describe, leads as naturally as the day follows the night, to a life of wisdom and joy. Some in this approach might think of themselves as humanists. Many would just say they’re Unitarian Universalists.

I love spending time with people in their seventies and eighties and older, who’ve devoted a lifetime to this tradition with critical and radically open hearts and minds.

That’s all it takes.

And that gives me hope.

Associate for Youth and Young Adult Programs


The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is seeking an Associate for Youth and Young Adult Programs. This is a regular full-time position located within the UU College of Social Justice, a partnership between the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA). For more information click here.



King’s Chapel Special Service

King’s Chapel will be open tomorrow for prayer, beginning at 8 a.m and for two special services of prayer and music (12:15 and 6). We are a place of sanctuary for our members and friends, for those who work in the City, and for the people from out of town who visit us daily.

Our usual Tuesday 12:15 concert will continue, as a time for musical reflection. We will also offer spoken prayers both prior to and after that concert. Also, at 6 p.m., we will host a brief service of prayer for any in the area who may be leaving their place of work and seek an opportunity to come together and pray.

Throughout the day, the Tour Guide staff will let all visitors know that they are welcome to come into this sacred space, to view its beauty, and to quietly pray, if they choose, but that we will not be offering regular tours. We also will place numerous additional Bede books around the Chapel so that those visiting can write prayers. God bless.

58 Tremont Street, Boston, MA.