UUA Supports Strengthening Legal Foundation for LGBTQIA+ Marriages While Calling for Greater Protections Respect for Marriage Act, Signed by President Biden, Will Provide Basic Legal Recognition for Marriage Regardless of Future Supreme Court Decisions

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Suzanne Morse
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Boston, Mass. (December 13, 2022) – The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) affirms the importance of strengthening legal protections for LGBTQIA+ marriages that are a part of the Respect for Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden today. The act was passed to safeguard legal protections for marriages within the LGBTQIA+ community if the Supreme Court rules to undermine marriage equality in the future. However, as a religion that has historically led in the fight for marriage equality and LGBTQIA+ equity, the UUA also emphasizes the need to go further in protecting the full rights of people across the spectrum of gender and sexuality.

“Our LGBTQIA+ siblings are sacred, whole, and divine. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe the full expression of the diversity of gender and sexuality is a gift,” said Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President. “Our First Principle affirms the inherent worth and dignity of all and there can be no higher expression of that belief than in protecting the rights of all LGBTQIA+ people and families.”

The Respect for Marriage Act will require states to recognize marriages between people of the same sex or gender as well as marriage between people of different racial and ethnic identities. According to GLAD, the Act will “repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act—which has already been invalidated by the Supreme Court—and get the anti-LGBTQ+ federal law off the books. It will also ensure that all state and federal governments recognize and respect a couple’s marriage, regardless of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the couple.”

The law will protect marriage rights of LGBTQIA+ couples regardless of future Supreme Court decisions. With the Dobbs decision made in June, which repealed nearly 50 years of protections of reproductive rights, many advocates, lawmakers, and religious leaders - including Unitarian Universalists - fear that rights for LGBTQIA+ people will be rolled back in future court decisions. The Supreme Court decided in 2015 in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case that it was unconstitutional to deny LGBTQIA+ couples marriage licenses under the Fourteenth Amendment.

“While the UUA recognizes the importance of the Respect for Marriage Act, we also know the struggle for full equality for queer and trans people remains. And we are committed to this larger, liberatory struggle,” said Rev. Dr. Frederick-Gray.

Unitarian Universalists have a long history of supporting the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, beginning in 1970 when, one year after the Stonewall Uprising, the UUA passed a General Resolution opposing discrimination against members of the community. In 1996, a Resolution of Immediate Witness passed the UUA’s General Assembly supporting marriage equality. And in November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the Goodridge vs. Massachusetts Department of Public Health case that discrimination against same sex couples seeking to marry was unconstitutional, making Massachusetts the first state to allow for LGBTQIA+ marriage equality. The lead plaintiff in that case was Hillary Goodridge, a program director at the UUA.

“Passing the Respect for Marriage Act is a wonderful start to ensure that marriages of LGBTQIA+ couples will have protections regardless of the actions of the Supreme Court. Thank you, Congress and President Biden,” said Goodridge. “Public support for marriage equality is over 70%, but we cannot begin to feel safe at home, in our families, and in the streets until the physical and legal attacks on our communities are stopped. There is so much more work to be done to ensure that we are protecting the rights and lives of LGBTQIA+ people, of people of color, of immigrants, and of people with disabilities, and I look forward to working with the UU community to continue that work.”

About the UUA

The UUA is the central organization for the Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious movement in the United States. Our faith is diverse and inclusive and the UUA’s 1000+ member congregations are committed to Seven Principles that hold closely the worth and dignity of each person as sacred, the need for justice and compassion, and the right to choose one’s own beliefs.