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HANDOUT 1: History of Unitarian Universalist Involvement in and Support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues

1967 Unitarian Universalist Committee on Goals conducts a survey on the beliefs about and attitudes toward homosexuality within the Association: over 80 percent of Unitarian Universalists believe that it should be discouraged.

1969 James Stoll publicly declares himself to be homosexual at a Student Religious Liberals Conference.

1970 The General Assembly passes a resolution to end discrimination against homosexuals and bisexuals. The resolution includes a call to congregations to develop sex education programs that promote healthy attitudes toward diverse forms of sexuality.

1971 The Unitarian Universalist Association publishes About Your Sexuality which attempts to teach positive attitudes about homosexuality and bisexuality; Richard Nash and Elgin Blair co-found the Unitarian Universalist Caucus (later Interweave Continental) to lobby for the creation of an Office of Gay Affairs.

1972 UUA publication of The Invisible Minority, an adult curriculum about homosexuality.

1973 The General Assembly votes to create an Office of Gay Affairs that will be staffed by gay people and be a resource to the Unitarian Universalist Association.

1974 The General Assembly votes to fund Office of Gay Affairs.

1975 Arlie Scott hired as first Director of Office of Gay Concerns.

1979 Rev. Douglas Morgan Strong becomes the first openly gay man to be called to serve a Unitarian Universalist congregation, All Souls Church in Augusta, Maine.

1980 The General Assembly passes a resolution calling for congregations and the Unitarian Universalist Association "to lend full assistance in the settlement of qualified openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual religious leaders."

1984 The General Assembly votes to affirm "the growing practice of some of its ministers of conducting services of union of gay and lesbian couples and urges member societies to support their ministers in this important aspect of our movement's ministry to the gay and lesbian community."

1986 The General Assembly passes a resolution calling Unitarian Universalists to work to end discrimination against people with AIDS.

1989 The General Assembly creates the Welcoming Congregation Program to help congregations become more inclusive of members of the LGBT community.

1992 The UUA Board of Trustees passes a resolution expressing disapproval of the Boy Scouts of America's policy of discrimination against gay and atheist scouts and leaders.

1993 The UUA endorses the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Equal Rights and Liberation. Echoing its actions in Selma, Alabama, the UUA Board of Trustees adjourns its quarterly Boston meeting to reconvene in Washington, D.C., and attend the March. Later that year, the General Assembly passes a resolution supporting openly lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the military.

1996 The UUA Board of Trustees and the General Assembly pass a resolution in support of same-gender marriage; the UUA office becomes the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns to reflect the Association's commitment to the transgender community.

1997 The UUA sponsors its first training on transgender issues.

1998 The Boy Scouts of America informs the Unitarian Universalist Association that it will no longer allow Unitarian Universalists to earn the Religion in Life merit badge because it is "inconsistent with Scouting's values." The Boy Scouts specifically object the UUA's stances on "homosexuals."

1999 After more than a year of meetings and correspondence between the UUA and the Boy Scouts, John Buehrens, the president of the UUA, pens an open letter, "What has happened to Boy Scout honor?" In the letter he notes that the UUA and the Boy Scouts have failed to resolve their conflict over the Religion in Life badge and lifts up the religious principles of working for the "equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people." Later that year the General Assembly passes a resolution calling for an end to the Boy Scouts discriminatory practices.

2000 More than 25 percent of all UUA congregations have become Welcoming Congregations.

2002 Rev. Sean Parker Dennison is called to serve South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City, Utah, becoming the first out transgender person to be called to the Unitarian Universalist parish ministry; Rev. Laurie Auffant is called to serve Follen Church Society in Lexington, Massachuetts, becoming the first out transgender person to be called as a Unitarian Universalist Minister of Religious Education.

2004 UUA President William Sinkford legally marries Hillary and Julie Goodridge, lead plaintiffs in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Eliot Hall at the Unitarian Universalist Association; Living the Welcoming Congregation, a follow-up program to the Welcoming Congregation program, is launched. Also, the Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization is formed, providing Unitarian Universalist scouts a way to earn the Religion in Life badge.

2006 More than 50 percent of all UUA congregations in the United States have become Welcoming Congregations.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.

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