Yesterday was a good day for the United Church of Christ. Delegates of General Synod 28, the UCC’s national deliberative body, passed two resolutions Tuesday: one calling for international human rights for all people and rejecting systematic discrimination against LGBT people, and another affirming the support for all families wishing to adopt and raise children.
“All God’s children who are LGBT deserve freedom from fear of torture, freedom from fear of sexual assault and execution, access to education and competent health care, and guarantees of non-discrimination in their professional and family lives,” said the Rev. Emily Heath, a member of the Vermont Conference and the resolution review committee.
The United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination, has historically been one of the most LGBT affirming religious groups in the United States, and ordained the Rev. William R. Johnson, an openly gay minister, in 1972. In 1985, the General Synod passed a resolution calling on all UCC congregations to “declare themselves open and affirming,” and in 2005, the UCC became the first mainline Christian denomination to officially support marriages for all couples. The General Synod meets every two years to vocalize the UCC’s stance on particular issues to the wider church body. Because the UCC is a covenantal polity, individual congregations can differ from the General Synod on non-constitutional matters.
In order for universal human rights standards to be truly universal, every person, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, is entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights;
The use of criminal law, or proposals to use criminal law, against members of sexual minorities creates a legal and social environment that is discriminatory and violates the human rights endorsed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, 28th General Synod
The first resolution passed Tuesday, titled “Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” focuses on “instances in which such abuse [of LGBT people] is not prohibited by law but rather legally, politically, socially or even religiously sanctioned” and was supported by ninety-eight percent of the Synod delegates. The Synod was addressed by three LGBT speakers from outside the United States: Ahmad Khafaja of Lebanon, Lindford Cunningham of Jamaica, and a woman who identified herself only as Champo, fearing retribution in Zambia. “What you’re doing isn’t going to be changing lives, it’s going to be saving lives,” she said. “When you have a bad day and are trying to figure out what you haven’t done right, this is something you’ve done right. Be proud of yourself.”
The second resolution, “The Right of LGBT Persons to Adopt and Raise Children,” was unanimously accepted, and emphasized that nearly half a million children in the United States live in group or foster homes. “We need parents!” exclaimed a Synod delegate who was a former group home executive. The delegates also added an amendment to the proposed resolution before officially adopting it, which urged health and human services agencies affiliated with the UCC to approve adoption applications for all families.
GLAAD commends the UCC, and continues to support the ever increasing affirmations of LGBT people by all religious institutions.