Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender (BGLT) communities in Washington, DC and around the world are holding Pride Celebrations this month and throughout the Summer and Fall. On June 9th, members of over 20 different religious communities and faith-based organizations came together for the annual Pride Week Interfaith Service organized by the Celebration of the Spirit Coalition. The gathering included beautiful and heartfelt expressions of the love and inclusiveness inherent in many diverse religious traditions. Participants were identified as Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Bapitist, Buddhist and Wiccan, to name just a few. UU representatives included ministers and members from All Souls Church, Unitarian; Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church and the Universalist National Memorial Church. Capital Pride activities continue in DC this weekend with a parade on Saturday evening and a festival on Sunday.
The theme of the interfaith service this year examined the past, present and future of the struggle for rights and recognition for people whose gender identities and/or expressions or sexual orientations do not follow the heterosexual norm in this country. Participants honored our ancestors and those who did this work before us while we looked to the next generation for renewed strength and spiritual activism that will carry us into the next century.
The modern BGLT rights movement has roots in the work of activists in the 1950s and 60s, but is most often traced back to the Stonewall riots in New York in June 1969, where protesters confronted police who were conducting unconstitutional raids in bars. The yearly parade that commemorated this incident sparked a national grassroots movement, and Pride is now celebrated in many countries around the world. The celebrations aim to increase the visibility of BGLT people in their communities and to give all who participate a chance to come together in solidarity to combat oppression.
Last week, President Barack Obama released a proclamation declaring June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month” in the United States of America. This marks the first occaision that the White House has officially commemorated Gay Pride since the Clinton administration.
We salute President Obama’s efforts to further civil rights gains for BGLT persons internationally as well as within the United States. We hope sincerely that he works closely with Congress to keep his promises of finding a way to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to eliminate workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to recognize and protect same sex couples and their rights.
The Unitarian Universalist Association will continue to express our vision of a society where no one is terrorized, excluded or marginalized based on their identity or its expression. The UUA Washington Office for Advocacy and its staff will keep working to ensure that the laws and policies of this land are crafted in the spirit of respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.