our callingFrom the President
Affirm the power of love
As I write, a 12- by 20-foot banner hangs high on the side of the UUA building at 25 Beacon Street in Boston, facing the Massachusetts State House next door. “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right” it announces to the legislators who must respond to the decision by the state's Supreme Judicial Court that same-gender marriage will be legal in Massachusetts.
Rainbow flags flank our banner, witnessing to Unitarian Universalists' deep religious affirmation of the power of love found in marriages and partnerships between consenting adults regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
The politics are intense. The state's highest court has given the legislature until May 17 to act. Will an amendment to the state constitution be put forward defining marriage as only between one man and one woman? Will a “civil union” bill be enacted as a compromise? Will the legislature do nothing to interfere, so that same-gender marriage becomes Massachusetts law?
We live in times when public opinion is deeply divided about policies that profoundly impact people's lives. The issues are neither theoretical nor abstract. Who will be allowed to marry? Who can visit a loved one in a hospital? Who will control the final disposition of our bodies when we die? In a time of divided and deeply held beliefs, the Unitarian Universalist Association stands firmly and proudly on the side of the transforming, saving power of love.
Despite the court victory in Massachusetts, the right to marry for same-gender couples is far from certain. Vigilance and our faithful witness are still necessary. In living memory, contraception was illegal in some states. In living memory, women did not have control of their reproductive lives. In living memory, one of the countless Unitarian Universalists who have witnessed for the right of choice, Col. James Barrett, was murdered for escorting a doctor to an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida.
Just as our call for same-gender marriage is now decades old, so too is our support for reproductive choice. It, too, is an affirmation of the power of love. Not love as syrupy or sentimental, but love lived out in real lives where real decisions must be made. A woman's right to decide whether or not to bear a child recognizes that love means caring for life. It, too, is neither theoretical nor abstract. Placing unqualified value on the possibility of a future life can do violence to lives already being lived.
I am personally grateful that I have never had to be part of a decision to terminate a pregnancy. But our faith affirms that when such decisions must be made, they must be made by the person whose life is most affected. I am also grateful that the women in my life, should they ever face such a decision, have that right. But that right is under strong and continuing attack.
On April 25, women and men from around the nation will gather in Washington, D.C., to worship and march in support of freedom of choice. I will be there on the Mall with as many Unitarian Universalists as we can muster and as large a UU banner as we can carry. Some of you have already made the decision to come to Washington for this march. If you have, please join me at All Souls Church in Washington the evening before. Others have decided to bear witness for reproductive choice in your local communities. We will all be witnessing in solidarity on April 25.