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Proposed Amendments Regarding Inclusion (Debate and Vote), General Assembly 2014

General Assembly 2014 Event 503

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This report is part of a longer event. Go to General Session VII for the complete video and order of business.


JIM KEY: Our next item of business is to consider and vote on the proposed changes to section C-2.3, regarding inclusion. The text is found at page 97 of the final agenda. The mini assembly concerning this amendment was held Friday.

You will recall that this is C bylaw which is one that takes two years for two successive general assemblies to ratify by a majority vote. This was passed overwhelmingly last year and awaits a second vote. Will a Vice Moderator make the appropriate motion?

SPEAKER 1: Moved that the proposed changes to section C-2.3, regarding inclusion, found at page 97 of the final agenda, be adopted by this assembly.

JIM KEY: I call upon Michael Salwasser, UUA trustee at large, to give the position of the board of trustees.

MICHAEL SALWASSER: 50 years ago, when we first included a—


JIM KEY: Michael, wait. I recognize you at the pro microphone. That's the cue to the people tending to the microphones. So you may now speak.

MICHAEL SALWASSER: 50 years ago, when we first included a nondiscrimination clause in our bylaws, discrimination was the law in many states. For our congregations to include this statement in the same article as our principles, our sources, and our purposes was important and groundbreaking. In 2009, your commission on appraisal, acting as a steady commission, called for a new era—an era of inclusion, in which the challenge put before our congregations is not merely passive nondiscrimination but active dismantling of the persistent systems of power, privilege, and oppression that diminish us all.

This new language for Article II compels us to intentionally build the world we dream about right here, right now. At our 2009 General Assembly, the language of inclusion did not pass because it could not be separated from other proposed amendments, and it did not attain the required super majority. Deeply frustrated but undaunted, the delegates in Salt Lake City instructed your board to bring the language of inclusion back to you as soon as possible. We did that last year. And you voted overwhelmingly in the affirmative to adopt new inclusive language for Article II.

Changes to Article II, because it is so important to our identity, requires a second vote of 2/3 in favor, one year later, which brings us to today. Your board strongly urges you to again vote in the affirmative to adopt this groundbreaking amendment to our bylaws, right here, right now.

JIM KEY: Thank you, Michael. As a reminder, those speaking in favor of this bylaw amendment should use the pro microphone, and those who wish to speak against should use the con microphone. Is there anyone who wishes to speak? I see someone moving to microphones. Let's wait for a moment and see what we're doing with our off-site delegates. I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone.

JENNIFER WHITE: Thank you, Moderator Key. My name is Jennifer White. I'm a member of Summit UU Fellowship in Santee, which is in San Diego, California. I am totally in favor of this, but I don't understand exactly what the wording would be. Are we voting for the underlying part, the not underlying part? I would like to have it up on the screen as it would read. And tell me what it is we're voting on.

JIM KEY: Explain the—

SPEAKER 1: Subtext. You want to take it?

JIM KEY: You want to take it?

SPEAKER 2: Sure. Good question. Hi, everybody.

So what we are voting on is the underlined part, lines 429 to 434, that is not in brackets. You may see that in the line 431, about 3/4 of the way across the page, there are five words in brackets, to do all we can. Those have been deleted, frankly, at my suggestion, because while there are many people supportive of this, there was some question about whether that might mean we would have to spend every UUA dollar on achieving this goal.

And as a lawyer, it's my job to help people do reasonable things. So I suggested this be removed a year ago. And you all passed this by majority vote, last year at GA 2013. And so, under the bylaws, this must be passed this year, if it's to be passed by a 2/3 vote. So to answer the question, we're voting on lines 429 through 434, without those five words in brackets in line 431.

SPEAKER 3: On page 97!

JIM KEY: Got it. Page 97. Thank you, Tom. Couldn't have said it better, myself. I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone.

ELAINE MCMILLAN: Hi. I'm Elaine McMillan. And I'm a delegate from the Church of the Larger Fellowship. And I'm just a little confused because at the top it says "Rule G."

JIM KEY: Let me—I see what—

ELAINE MCMILLAN: And I think that's supposed to be C, maybe?

JIM KEY: No. We're separate—we're voting on a bylaw now. The thing that you're holding in your hand comes later in the agenda, and that will be a rules discussion.

ELAINE MCMILLAN: OK. But it is on nondiscrimination.

JIM KEY: Yes. That's a separate—


JIM KEY: —discussion and debate. Thank you. Do we have anybody in the procedure cue off-site? I don't believe so. Do we have a delegate who wished to speak at the pro microphone in favor of this? Do you wish to speak? I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

BRENDA MURPHY: My name is Brenda Murphy from Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City. I came to the pro microphone to be ready in the unlikely event that someone spoke con to this—

JIM KEY: Well, it was much appreciated. But we have no one at the con mic, so I'm getting a sense from the hall that you're ready to vote on this. Yes?

All right. All of those in favor of doing the second year vote on the—oops. Excuse me. Our head teller says we have another question. I recognize the delegate at the procedures microphone.

ELAINE ARNOLD: Hi. My name is Elaine Arnold and I am a board president from Modesto, California. And I noticed that on page 97, where we're looking at, just above the part where we're voting to—Amended—it says that underlining indicates insertion, brackets indicate deletion. So from line 423, where a bracket begins, to the end of line 428, there's a bracket that ends. So there's an entire paragraph that would be deleted. And is this correct?

JIM KEY: That is correct.

ELAINE ARNOLD: OK. I just wanted to make sure everyone was clear.

JIM KEY: Thank you. So now I think we're ready to vote. All of those in favor of a second year positive vote on this, please raise your cards.

You may lower them now. Opposed to this. I think I can report that we have an overwhelming support of the second year. So now it goes into effect. Thank you.

All right. You want to take up rule? How many of you were here last year? A good number.

You may recall that before the inclusion bylaw we just passed was passed la—before it was passed last year, we had a nondiscrimination provision that appeared as that bylaw, C2-3. Last year's GA wanted to substitute the bylaw on inclusion for the one on nondiscrimination, but did not want to eliminate the nondiscrimination provision from our bylaws and rules together. So that GA adopted the nondiscrimination provision as Rule G2-3, which appears on pages 119 and 120 of your program book.

Last year's GA anticipated that the board would return this year with proposed amendments to this language to substitute racialized identity for race, and gender identity or expression for gender. This history and expectation are described on page 97 of your agenda, which was emailed to congregations over 30 days ago in compliance with our bylaw 4-14.

We learned during the mini assembly that some people came to GA for the express purpose of including this language in Rule G2-3 because it was on the agenda. The mini assembly voted specific changes to Rule G2-3, some of which had been contemplated last year and were specifically listed in the agenda. The language that is proposed is on the piece of paper that was handed out when you entered the hall, although I will suggest to you that there is a typo in there, and we'll get to that in just a minute.

If you did not get the piece of paper, you can look it up, you can look over your neighbor's shoulder, or you could get the language on the GA app or the larger screens—we have it up there. Does everybody got it, either in the front, or on their app, or can see it on the screen? The words that have been added are in line 1934, Racialized Identity, and in line 1935, Gender Expression, Gender Identity, and Family and Relationship Structures. If you want to see this rule in context, the line numbers we are referring to are in the bylaws on pages 119 and 120.

Did you get all of those numbers and references? I now ask the Vice Moderator to make the motion to amend Rule G2-3, which is on page 119 and 120 of your program, to incorporate the changes voted by the mini assembly.

SPEAKER 1: So, before I make the motion, I'll point out the typo that is in the printed material but is correct both on the screens, in the app, and online. In the text that we are not changing, it should say "national origin." And in the printed version, I believe it says "national original."

So that wasn't quite right. So that's the typo. So we'll just correct the typo. So we're voting on it with the typo corrected.

So the motion. Moved that the proposed changes to Rule G-2.3, regarding nondiscrimination, found in your handouts and appearing on the screen, be adopted by this assembly.

JIM KEY: Thank you.


JIM KEY: OK. We'll now hear from speakers at the pro and at the pro microphone. We have a question from the procedures mic. I recognize the delegate at the procedure mic.

SPEAKER 4: Hello. This is [INAUDIBLE] Williams from Tennessee Valley UU Church. And number 1934—I'm clear to what race means, as most of the world. I am not clear at all on what racialized identity means. And so I feel like I need a suggestion or to go back to what the world says is race. Thank you.

JIM KEY: Thank You. Let me try to answer that. The board dealt with that last year, quite extensively. And it was brought to us that the board agreed that that was a better language to deal with today.

So I can only answer it that way. The writers of the rule felt that that was appropriate language for these days. I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone.

ALEXA FRASER: Yes. Hello. Alexa Fraser from Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, as well as an incoming student at Starr King. I had a class at the time of the mini workshop, so I was unable to attend that. I've sort of been sent back and forth to different mics. I'm not exactly certain I'm at the right place or at the right time.

But it does seem to me that the more specific you make the details of this, the more omissions become critical. And body shape is a major issue in our world and is an area of discrimination that some face both in our world at large and within our congregations and faith. Is there a place I can stand, to put that forward as a future—

JIM KEY: Yes, there is.

year amendment?

JIM KEY: You will be pl—you could make it today, after we vote on this, up or down. Of course, if it's voted up, then you could make an amendment that we'll discuss. So I would take you over to the—

SPEAKER 2: No. No amendments.

amendment mic. No. No. The lawyers say no.

ALEXA FRASER: OK. That's why I've—

SPEAKER 2: It was not made at the mini assembly. It can't go.

been pushed to different mics.

JIM KEY: Ah. There you go. The amendment was not made at the mini assembly, so it is not in order today. So we'll have to come back at a future GA. Thank you for your question. I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone, or as I call it, the stump the chump microphone.

PETER FRIEDRICHS: Good morning, Mr. Moderator. I hope I don't need to stump the chump. My name is Reverend Peter Friedrichs. I proudly serve the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County in Media, Pennsylvania. And I am here to declare my ignorance.

JIM KEY: We could do this together.

PETER FRIEDRICHS: I'm confident in the meaning of the term gender expression. I'm confident in the meaning of the term gender identity. And I think I know what sex is. But I don't know what sex means in the context of this statement. So I'd like a clarification on how that term is being used in this particular amendment.

JIM KEY: Wow. Wow.

PETER FRIEDRICHS: It's all yours.

JIM KEY: It is a stump the chump line. Thank you for that. I was hoping we would get to that. Just a moment—I'm going to consult with my lawyer.

SPEAKER 2: There are people who proposed the amendment at the pro microphone who can address this.

JIM KEY: OK. I'm going to turn to the pro microphone, to help us understand these words. Can I call on the delegate at the pro microphone?

ANGELA BRIDGEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I'm sorry about my voice, too, because I'm just very hoarse because of all of the church we've been making here. But my name is Angela Bridgeman. And I'm the delegate from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. And I hope that, because I have something to add, that you'll give me more time when I run out. But racialized identity was discussed because race is an artificial construct, and racialized identity to replace that.

And now with what I was actually going to say when I came up here. When I brought this issue forward last year in Louisville, the response was such an outpouring of love and support an affirmation as I had never before experienced. And when that happened, a part of my soul that I had thought forever dead was revived. I'm grateful for that.

In our efforts, at the UUFP, to get this issue on the agenda, we collected 955 signatures from 35 congregations across 12 states. I, myself, have been a member of five different UU congregations and a visitor at more than I can count. So this amendment simply reflects our actual reality. But why it's important is because it empowers us—the UUA—to advocate businesses and other institutions to change their nondiscrimination policies.

UUA successfully did this with Verizon in 2012. But imagine if Verizon's response had been, wait a minute, you're asking us to do something you, yourselves, haven't done. Now, the path I have followed, as a transgender person, has not been easy. But my way was smoothed a bit by those who went before me. And if what you do here today makes that road a little smoother for those who are currently on, and for those who will later begin upon that road, then you will have shown them the kind of love and support and affirmation that I was shown in Louisville. Thank you.

JIM KEY: Thank you. I recognize the delegate at the procedure mic.

DAVID ANDERSON: Thank you. David Anderson, University Unitarian Church in Seattle. Are amendments to disincorporate any of this language in order?

JIM KEY: They are not in order.


JIM KEY: It didn't come through the mini assembly. Thank you.

ELIZABETH MOUNT: Hi. I'm Elizabeth Mount from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, North Carolina. And I'd like to ask if I could offer a point of information about what the actual language means.

JIM KEY: I would be delighted for you to share that with us.

ELIZABETH MOUNT: Awesome. In that case, so racialized identity is a change that was asked for, to acknowledge that race, rather than being anything inherent or biological, is, in fact, an identity which has been constructed by our society. Gender expression is the way in which we present our gender to the people around us, through our dress, our appearance, our addition or subtraction of makeup, facial hair, and so on.

Gender identity is the feeling within us. It's how our brains believe our identity to exist internally. That may or may not correspond to biological sex, which is what is anatomically yours and assigned to you at the moment of birth. Does that help, folks?

JIM KEY: Yes, ma'am.



JIM KEY: Thank you for helping us there. I recognize the delegate at the procedure mic.

ANNIE SIMPSON: My name is Annie Simpson, and I'm from the Unitarian Church in Reston, Virginia. I just wanted to add an old person's point of view about sex. You remember those forms? Male or female. Those are the choices on sex. And that's why we have all of these other terms, because we aren't just male or female.

JIM KEY: Thank you.

ANNIE SIMPSON: But we don't want to exclude that.

JIM KEY: Thank you. Well, we do not have anybody at the con microphone. So I think we're ready to take up this rule change. Correct? Are we ready to vote? All of those in favor of adopting this rule, raise your cards. All opposed.

And we have delegates voting offline. We have one pro, no cons, so the motion overwhelmingly carries. Thank you.