Letter: UUBRidge welcomes diversity

Members of the UUBRidge Welcoming Congregation Committee hold a rainbow cake from the congregation's service on the 16th, which focused on and celebrated issues of LGBTQ equality. From left (front row), Joanna Hughes, Vestris Brooks, Kathryn Treanor, (back row) Martha Hughes, Ellen Adams, Karen Allen, Jay Allen, Rev. Russ Savage.Courtesy photo
Members of the UUBRidge Welcoming Congregation Committee hold a rainbow cake from the congregation’s service on the 16th, which focused on and celebrated issues of LGBTQ equality. From left (front row), Joanna Hughes, Vestris Brooks, Kathryn Treanor, (back row) Martha Hughes, Ellen Adams, Karen Allen, Jay Allen, Rev. Russ Savage.
Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge had a wonderful Sunday service last week about the importance of making sure our congregation welcomes families with love, respect and inclusiveness, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We were reminded of the history of intolerance and hatred that has met LGBTQ persons for centuries — by people who use political or religious beliefs to vilify those who are different from themselves.

We discussed the need to teach our children about the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and show them how to live in harmony while celebrating diversity. As parents, we need to demonstrate by our actions the importance of justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

In the past few years, some things have improved for the LGBTQ community. In June 2013, section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned, and some people were finally able to file federal taxes as a married couple and share their employee health benefits with a same-sex spouse. In June 2015, marriage equality became the law of the land. And the military and Boy Scouts of America have finally recognized that being gay does not affect the content of a person’s character or the unique qualities each person brings to the group.

But we know that there is work to be done and that just the fact that some things have improved does not automatically make the fear, hate and intolerance disappear. In some areas, county clerks refuse to issue marriage licenses to all couples because they object to issuing the licenses to same-sex couples. Some people still hold the antiquated belief that there is a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. Many states do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Some have no hate-crime or housing-discrimination laws based on sexual identification or gender identity, and no antibullying or school laws prohibiting discrimination against students who are LGBTQ.

The Welcoming Congregation Committee of UUBRidge will work to support the LGBTQ community and join with others to bring greater justice, equity and compassion to our community.

Ellen Adams, Jay Allen, Karen Allen, Vestris Brooks, Joanna Hughes, Martha Hughes, Kathryn Treanor and the Rev. Russ Savage
UUBRidge Welcoming Congregation Committee

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