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Actions of Immediate Witness (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: Yesterday, you voted to place three actions of immediate witness on today's agenda. Today we will take up each of the three items. According to the rules we adopted on Wednesday, we will have up to 20 minutes of debate for each AIW. The mini assembly to offer amendments was held yesterday morning, so let me once again turn to Susan Goekler.

SUSAN GOEKLER: Thank you. On behalf of the Commission on Social Witness, I make a motion to adopt proposed action of immediate witness A, entitled Support the, quote, "Pray for Relief," unquote Faith Summit on Stopping Deportations, as revised. And you will find it in a copy of your pink handout.

JIM KEY: Thank you. Remind you that before allowing any amendments, we'll have at least 12 minutes of time to debate before we are open for amendments to this particular action. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

WENDY VON ZIRPOLO: Thank you, Moderator Key. I'm Wendy von Zirpolo, proud to serve our congregation in Marblehead, Massachusetts. I'm further proud to be part of a faith that takes showing up seriously. I'm aware of how easy it is to do one of two things—participate in a large action and consider our contribution complete, or determine that nothing can be done because the opposition is so strong, so powerful, and so well-funded. I have prayed and prayed still that this is not who we are and stand proud today because here we are talking about immigration once again and poised to act.

Last night at the Ware Lecture, Sister Simone Campbell called upon us to walk toward trouble. When minor children are being warehoused and talked about as if they were things or animals, trouble. When people who are black and brown, citizen or not, are routinely detained at our borders for hours, the borders of their lives, communications, and bodies violated, trouble. When children live in fear of a knock on the door or the door being torn entirely from its hinges, meaning another parent taken, trouble.

Fellow delegates, here and online, please, please vote in affirmation of this action of immediate witness. It provides a way for each of us to act, come join us at the summit or support the summit by raising awareness in your congregation and communities, or by writing, calling, and visiting reps. I believe Sister Simone mentioned even putting Speaker Boehner on speed dial.

Do one thing, or do it all, but start by voting for this AIW. Thank you.

JIM KEY: Thank you. I can't help but notice there's nobody at the con microphone. Let me check with Tom, see if we have any amendments. We do not have any amendments. It looks like we're ready to vote. Am I reading the—

TOM: We do.

JIM KEY: Do we have an amendment?


JIM KEY: One moment. Does someone wish to bring an unincorporated amendment to the floor?

MELISSA CARVILL-ZIEMER: Yes, Mister—I'm still not on.

JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.

MELISSA CARVILL-ZIEMER: My name is Melissa Carville-Ziemer. I'm the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent in Ohio. I'd like to move to incorporate unincorporated amendment A.

JIM KEY: Do we have a second? We do. Do we have the language up there? Can everybody see it? Does anybody wish to speak against that language?

Are we ready to vote on accepting that amendment? Has everybody had time to read it? Is that a no? I'll give you a moment.

Let me read it for you so we all know the amended language they we're voting for. Line 30, delete "seek out ways" and insert "to promote education within their congregations and communities by using resources provided by organizations including NDLON," and it shows the website, "We Belong Together," and it shows the website, "and Not One More Deportation," with the website.

And the CSW reasoning—well, you can read that. Education is only one of many ways people can respond to the crisis. So how do we feel about this amendment? Or is there anybody who wants to speak against it? Are you ready to vote on this amendment?

All those in favor of accepting this amendment, raise your cards. Down. Opposed to this amendment? The amendment clearly carries. So we have an amended AIW. Do we have other amendments? No.

So now we return to voting for the amended ASW. So all those in favor of this amended ASW, please raise your cards. Those opposed. The amended ASW clearly passes. Thank you.


SUSAN GOEKLER: On behalf of the Commission on Social Witness, I make a motion to adopt proposed AIW C, entitled Affirming Congregation Commitment to Gun Violence Prevention, as revised.

JIM KEY: OK. Do we have anybody who wishes to speak pro or con to that? Is there anybody in the offsite queue? Am I reading you right that you're ready to vote that one? There's somebody at the amendment mic. Are you moving to include an unincorporated amendment?

DAVID KEPPEL: Yes, Moderator Key. I am. My name is David Keppel. And I'm with Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, Indiana. First of all, I'm sorry no one was here to speak for the basic proposal, which is superb and very important. But I think it's very important also that an Action of Immediate Witness helps our congregation with concrete ways to take action. And the purpose of this unincorporated amendment is to suggest things that we might do, both policies we might advocate, such as gun safety, background checks, ban on assault weapons, and ways we might work towards that, such as working with public health professionals, et cetera.

So I move this unincorporated amendment in the spirit of making this very worthy Action of Immediate Witness more helpful to congregations in their implementation of it. Thank you.

JIM KEY: Is there a second to that? Yes, OK. Before we vote, I have a question at the procedure mic.

JIM KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: Moderator Key, my name is Jim—

JIM KEY: Excuse me. You're not quite on yet. Try again.

JIM KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: Jim Krawarik-Graham from the Church of the Larger Fellowship. I would just like, for the benefit of the delegates, for the gentleman at the amendment microphone to please say which unincorporated amendment he is moving.

DAVID KEPPEL: Indeed. Excuse me, an excellent point. The first one listed on your purple sheet, line 43. "Be it further resolved that the 2014 General Assembly encourages member congregations to take action, such as—one, encourage the CDC to study and publish data on gun violence; two, work for gun safety, background checks, and a ban on assault weapons on a national, state, and municipal level; three, reach out and partner with interface groups and community activists; four, dialogue with police, local public health professionals, elected officials, and candidates for office; and five, speak out in local forums, town meetings, and media."

JIM KEY: Are we ready to vote on that amendment?

DAVID KEPPEL: I'm informed I have to say this is unincorporated amendment A.

JIM KEY: Noted. All those in favor of incorporating this amended CSW, please raise your cards. You can lower them. Opposed? All right. So noted. The amendment is included in the motion that you will now vote on on the CSA.

Are we ready to vote on this CSW? All those in favor, raise your cards. You can lower them now. All those opposed? CSW passes. Thank you.


JIM KEY: AIW, excuse me. I had a little trouble with language in the first and second grade. Susan?

SUSAN GOEKLER: On behalf of the Commission on Social Witness—which is CSW—

JIM KEY: Thank you.

SUSAN GOEKLER: --I move to adopt proposed AIW F, entitled UUA Support for Uganda New Underground Railroad to safely extract LGBTQ people from persecution in Uganda.

JIM KEY: Thank you, Susan. I recognize the delegate at the pro microphone.

KAY WILKINS: Good morning. My name is Kay Wilkins. I'm a proud member of UU Ellsworth, Maine, a mighty congregation. My friend Elizabeth Sprague is a Quaker. Right before I came to General Assembly, she told me about the horrible situation of LGBT people in Uganda but shared the hopeful news that courageous Quakers have once again stepped forward, starting what they know so well to do, an underground railroad to take people out of harm's way.

They are moving LGBT people to safehouses and then to Kenya, where there is a strong Quaker presence, and then to receiving countries in Europe, where they have been offered asylum. As of mid-June, about 100 people have been moved to safety. Currently, there is a waiting list of 90 people, including 17 hiding in a garage in deplorable conditions. The situation grows worse daily.

Granted, the New Underground Railroad does not solve the larger problems of extreme homophobia in Uganda and the contribution to the hatred made by American evangelicals. However, can we set aside those larger issues and join quickly in the effort to save lives? I encourage everyone here to stand on the side of love with the Quakers and join the Presbyterians who just met in their General Assembly and on June 17 took action similar to this proposal. Both as individuals and as congregations, I urge you to support the actions described in this AIW—most importantly to provide financial assistance to the railroad.

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

JAN TADDEO: Thank you, Moderator Key. My name it Jan Taddeo. It is my privilege to serve our Unitarian Universalist congregation of Gwinnett in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I am asking if you might give us information about how our offsite delegates are voting.

JIM KEY: I do not have the data. I'm trying to find that as we speak. They voted overwhelmingly in favor. But I can't give you the exact numbers. But I will try to find out.

JAN TADDEO: It would be helpful to just be reminded that they're there and voting.

JIM KEY: Absolutely, in fact, I've got somebody in the procedures mic.

JAN TADDEO: Thank you.

JIM KEY: Thank you. The delegate recognizes the offsite delegate at the procedure mic.


JIM KEY: Let me interrupt you and see if we can correct our speaker problem here in the hall, because you're breaking up. Hold on just a moment. Can we help? Let's try it again, Sally.

SALLY GELLERT: Yes, hi. I thank the onsite delegates for recognizing us. I wondered if we had time for discussion of any of these amendments. Our tech guys have been having trouble getting our votes up in time because you're going through these so fast, and I don't know whether other folks on the floor would like to speak to some of these.

JIM KEY: Thank you.


JIM KEY: Thank you. You're absolutely correct. We're moving way too fast for the offsite delegates. And I'll try to be more attentive to that. We do not have anybody at the con mic. We have an unincorporated amendment that has been proposed and seconded. Are we ready to vote on that? No, no, no, the crowd—huh? Ah, OK.

So are there any amendments for this AIW? A as in Able, I as in India, W as in Work. No? Are we ready to vote? Coming forward.

DAVE RENO: My question is—

JIM KEY: While we're waiting for that, let me—

DAVE RENO: This is an unincorporated amendment. Do we say this—OK, I have a question.

JIM KEY: Wait a minute. I recognize the delegate at the procedure microphone.

DAVE RENO: Dave Reno from First Church Now. Did I understand that we did or did not have a proposed unincorporated amendment? Because there are two unincorporated amendments at the bottom. Did you say we do not or we did?

JIM KEY: We are about to hear whether we do.

DAVE RENO: Oh, OK. Thank you.

JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.

JACKIE TRIMBLE SHAPIRO: Good morning. I'm Jackie Trimble Shapiro from the Unitarian Society of Hamden. And I'm not quite sure of this language. But I would like to make a motion that we accept unincorporated amendment B, which deletes lines 48 and 49 and then the concluding line would read, "Therefore be it resolved that the 2014 General Assembly encourages us to join with the Quakers in this movement." I think that says everything it needs, and as it states, this concluding statement is consistent with the 2014 General Assembly from which this AIW comes.

JIM KEY: Is everybody with us? It's on line 48 and 49 on page six. Can you see it up there? The proposal is to delete those two lines, starting with "what" and ending with "railroad." Is there a second to that amendment? Thank you. We're ready to vote on the amendment.

So let me give the offsite delegates some time to vote. All those in favor—oh, we have a con statement. Excuse me.

JIM KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: Hi. Jim Krawarik-Graham from the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Contrary to what the person at the amendment mic said, that would remove the grounding in what we're doing here at General Assembly if we deleted those two lines. This General Assembly has been about reaching out in love in all the ways that we can, and this Action of Immediate Witness does exactly that. I would encourage us to keep those two lines in. I think they add value and clarity of purpose around what this Action of Immediate Witness involves.

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

DAVE RENO: OK, David Reno, First Church again. I was a little confused. I would like—since unincorporated amendment B has been included, I would like unincorporated amendment A included. You'll have to come over to the amendment microphone and make that request to bring that onto the floor for debate. Thank you. So are we now ready to vote to incorporate this amendment or not?

All those in favor of accepting the unincorporated amendment, which is deleting two lines—are we understanding this—raise your card in favor aye. Let's see what the offsite delegates are doing. We'll wait for them to vote. You can lower your cards here in the house. We need some music. You can lower your cards.

I know. All those opposed? The motion to amend is clearly defeated. Thank you. All right. We have another amendment.

DAVE RENO: I would like to include—I would like to—

JIM KEY: I recognize the delegate at the amendment microphone.

DAVE RENO: OK. I'm still David Reno. I'm still from First Church. And I would like unincorporated amendment A to be included to give some perspective as to history, since we sometimes build monuments to people and forget exactly what they did. And let us remember the past is not past. It is also present.

JIM KEY: Let me read that to you, those in the hall, but you can also see it on the screen. It's on the bottom of page six. Unincorporated amendment A, line 47, insert, "A century ago, Harriet Tubman ran an Underground Railroad. Her passengers gave valuable intelligence to the Union Army. Harriet Tubman was given a pension for life of $20 a year in 1865 dollars. If each UU contributed $20 each, she would be honored."

So do we have a second to accept that amendment? I hear a second. Yes. Got the card. OK.

I see nobody at the con microphone. I recognize the delegate at the con microphone.

JIM KRAWARIK-GRAHAM: Moderator Key, my name is again Jim Krawarik-Graham from the Church of the Larger Fellowship. I am standing in opposition to adding these lines to this Action of Immediate Witness. I think A, it distracts from what this Action of Immediate Witness is intended to accomplish. B, although I have great regard for Harriet Tubman, I think that this is in a way tokenizing. And I think it, at the end of the day, distracts completely from what the AIW is intended to accomplish.

JIM KEY: Thank you.


JIM KEY: I think we're ready to vote. Are we not? Since we have nobody at the pro microphone. Do we have somebody at the procedure microphone attempting to get there? Hold one moment. I recognize the delegate at the procedure mic.

BILL CURTIS: I am Bill Curtis from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, Maryland, which of course is in Annapolis, Maryland. Well, that's what they always ask—where is it—afterwards. My question is, I would like to honor Harriet Tubman. But I believe she's dead. And what does the $20 that I would contribute go to is what I want to know.

JIM KEY: You'd have to figure that out when you got back to your congregations in response to this. The actual question of procedure is out of order. If you want to vote against it, you should be in the con line.

BILL CURTIS: I don't want to vote against it. I just want to know what it is.

JIM KEY: I don't think we can answer that today.

BILL CURTIS: Nobody knows where my money is going to go? That's kind of silly, isn't it, if I'm going to give money—

JIM KEY: Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Are we ready to vote on the amended AIW? No. On the amendment. On the amendment, excuse me. Are we ready to vote on the proposed amendment to AIW A?

I see nobody that wants to speak at the pro or the con, so all those who are voting for amending it, raise your cards. Opposed. It clearly carries. Let me see how our offsite delegates are voting. The negative defeats the amendment. I'm tongue tied this morning.

So now are you ready to vote on the AIW, or do we have some other amendment, people in the queue offsite? No more amendments. OK, are we ready to vote on this AIW? All those in favor, raise those cards. All those opposed. We clearly accept that AIW. Thank you very much.