As I've asked in ever-widening circles for feedback about my idea to offer a gift to our local BGLT community, I've gotten a great deal of support and positive input about it. I've asked for the thoughts of my colleagues on the UUMA chat, on our district ministers' chat, from BGLT and straight friends and congregants, and from friends Harry Knox at the Human Rights Campaign and Keith Kron of the UUA's office of bglt concerns. I asked you, my readers, for your thoughts as well.
There's been some very good advice as well as a few caveats and I am encouraged enough that I plan to ask my committee on ministry and the board of trustees this week to consider it and give their blessing. Assuming I get that blessing, I will talk with the congregation about it later this month and, assuming their blessing as well, I will announce the gift via the local newspapers in February, appropriately. I won't do it unless I have the support of my congregation, but I am fairly certain they will give it.
The gift to the BGLT community is this, in case you've just tuned in: to counteract the oppressive passage of Proposition 8 in California during the Nov. election, we will offer Proposal 2009, the use of our sanctuary and/or my services as officiant to same sex couples who wish to have a wedding ceremony (religious or spiritual) during the year 2009. Couples will be asked to register as domestic partners in advance, to make sure they have legal standing as a couple, unless there are extenuating circumstances, like military service. There will be no charge for the use of the sanctuary or my services; donations are welcome but not necessary.
In writing an op ed piece for the papers, I will focus on the theological and social justice bases of Unitarian Universalism---the inherent worth and dignity of every person and our belief that a democratic society offers equal rights to every person. Ceremonies can be public or private at the preference of the couple. The purpose of this gift is to counteract negative actions toward the BGLT community, to offer a tangible gift to folks whose relationships have not been honored in the traditional way, and to engender good will toward Unitarian Universalism.
That said, I know that there are some dangers in taking such a stand. Though Whidbey Island tends to be pretty liberal, at least on the South end, there may be some angry responses. We may get some threats. Some people may take advantage of the "freebie" without giving adequate thought to the significance of marriage. There are no guarantees that anyone will even want to receive this gift.
But I feel compelled to DO something, not just bemoan the uneven justice in American treatment of BGLT couples. This seems like something my congregation and I can do for them.