Welcoming Congregation

The Welcoming Congregation program was developed for Unitarian Universalist congregations wanting to become more inclusive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) people. Welcoming Congregations are those which have completed the program and passed a congregational vote to affirm that they welcome the membership and active participation of the LGBTQ community.

In 2005, we at UUEstrie did these things and became an official welcoming congregation. We have two plaques, one in English and one in French documenting our Welcoming Congregation status.

Ten years later, we thought it was time we refresh our understanding and commitment to the inclusion of LGBTQ persons, and thought to invite once again some personal testimony from folks living in the sex and gender minorities. Hence the invitation to Lisa McDonald-Jensen and her eldest son Tadhg, to speak at the worship service on June 28 just past.

Could we have timed this service any more perfectly?

  • In May, the United Nations launched a video spotlighting LGBT diversity.
  • In June, the UN released a report presenting recommendations on protecting LGBT persons:

While some progress has been made since the first study four years ago spotlighting discrimination and violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, the overall picture remains one of pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT/I) persons in all regions.

“Violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia is often particularly brutal, and in some instances characterized by levels of cruelty exceeding that of other hate crimes,” according to the report by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) (A/HRC/29/23) to be presented … to the UN Human Rights Council, which requested it.

  • The month of June has been particularly full of debate about gender diversity as former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlin Jenner.
  • And on Friday, June 26, 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, making gay marriage legal across the country. Their conclusion was that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.

Keith, with thanks to Lisa McDonald-Jensen