UUV4J trainingStatement from the Launch of the UUV4J

October 11, 2014

The Rev. Dr. Becky Edmiston-Lange, Co-Minister, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church and a spokesperson for Unitarian Universalist Voice for Justice

Good afternoon and welcome to the launch of Unitarian Universalist Voice for Justice, a collaborative effort of the Unitarian Universalist congregations in the greater Houston area. We are here to make other Houstonians aware that there are people in Houston with progressive religious values. We are people who support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. We support women s rights, including the right of a woman to make her own reproductive health care decisions. And we embrace interfaith tolerance and cooperation. Sometimes it seems that the only religious voices heard on these complex social issues are conservative ones. Well, no longer. Unitarian Universalists believe in universal love, that we should treat all our neighbors as we would like to be treated. We have a long history of acceptance and inclusion in areas that are often controversial in other religious congregations. We have long been standing on the side of love and justice for all people in our individual churches and as a national denomination. Now we come together to make our progressive religious voice heard in Houston.

UUV4J trainingWe are proud to launch Unitarian Universalist Voice for Justice on National Coming Out Day. We honor and celebrate the courage of the women and men who have come out of the shadows and demanded the right to live their God-given identity as freely and openly as anyone else. Because of their courage, they have enlightened our society and moved it toward greater acceptance. Our society has come a long way since National Coming out day started 26 years ago, but there is still work to be done to ensure the full equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It is still the case that some LGBTQ people feel they must hide their identity for fear they will lose their job or their housing or become the target of harassment or outright violence. There is no federal law that protects LGBTQ individuals from employment or housing discrimination. There is no Texas law that prohibits such discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Unitarian Universalist Voice for Justice anticipates and works toward a future when being gay or lesbian or transgender is as fully accepted and understood as being straight, when we won’t need a “Coming Out Day because all people are encouraged and supported to be who they are – freely and authentically without any fear of censure or discrimination.

In the same vein, Unitarian Universalist Voice for Justice also works to ensure the full equality of women and that all women have access to safe reproductive services in alignment with their own religious values. And, finally, we anticipate and work toward a future in which people of different faith traditions enjoy a peaceful, respectful and mutually enriching co-existence. As philosopher-activist Cornel West has said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” We are Unitarian Universalist Voice for Justice and we stand on the side of love. Thank you for coming.