In June 2013, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association voted to amend Article II of its bylaws to the following:
Section C-2.3. Inclusion.
We strive to be an association of congregations that truly welcome all persons and commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation. Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities and histories. We pledge to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect.
In addition, the General Assembly voted that the existing Nondiscrimination clause would become Rule G-2.3, located in a different part of the bylaws that is more easily amendable by the General Assembly. Because of restrictions on Article II of the bylaws, a second vote in favor of the new Section C-2.3 above will be required at the 2014 General Assembly and will need a two-thirds vote to be finalized. It will be possible to propose changes to the Non-discrimination clause at the 2014 General Assembly.
Congregations Take Action
Congregations are already taking steps to add inclusion language to their mission statements or bylaws, in addition to nondiscrimination clauses. Please note that the Unitarian Universalist Association strongly discourages replacing nondiscrimination language with inclusion language. Congregations are encouraged to engage in dialogue about the importance of communicating both a positive, affirming covenant of inclusion as well as a commitment to nondiscrimination.
One of the Commitments and Action Steps of becoming a Welcoming Congregation is to include an affirmation and nondiscrimination clause in bylaws and other official documents affecting all dimensions of congregational life, including membership, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals. Nondiscrimination clauses offer important legal protections that are not provided by inclusion language. Check out examples of how congregations use language to proclaim their welcome, inclusion, affirmation, and nondiscrimination of marginalized individuals!
For more on how to live into your congregation's commitments to be inclusive of all, visit Nurturing Inclusivity.