Issued at Convocation in Birmingham, Alabama
March 10, 2002
During Convo, with the leadership of Alabama Unitarian Universalist ministers, we issued a statement of concern about recent homophobic comments by Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Supreme Court of Alabama. Kendyl Gibbons, acting in her role as UUMA President, invited those assembled at Convocation to endorse the following statement, initially formulated by the Rev. Karen Matteson of Birmingham and developed further with input from the UUMA Exec, John Hurley, and Meg Riley. Although a formal meeting of the UUMA was not convened, those present overwhelmingly endorsed the statement and later, in an offering received during the Closing Celebration, contributed more than $4,000 to a fund to continue the struggle against official and unofficial homophobia in Alabama.
We Unitarian Universalist ministers, gathered in convocation in Birmingham, Alabama, are compelled by our religious beliefs to speak out in opposition to the recent homophobic comments of Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Supreme Court of Alabama.
Unitarian Universalism affirms the inherent worth and dignity of each person, and our faith tradition has long been a strong supporter of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Judge Moore’s description of homosexuality as “an inherent evil,” “abhorrent,” “immoral,” and “detestable,” and his suggestion that execution is an appropriate penalty for gay people, are shameful expressions of bigotry and hatred. As clergy people, we are called to condemn such hateful and divisive comments, especially when expressed by a person in a position of civic leadership and trust.
We Unitarian Universalist ministers are proud that our faith tradition has long ordained openly gay and lesbian ministers. We are deeply concerned that Judge Moore’s comments have created a climate of fear for gay and lesbian citizens of Alabama as well as visitors to this state. More than 450 Unitarian Universalist ministers have gathered here in Birmingham for the past several days, but we, and many groups who share our concern for equal rights for all citizens, will have second thoughts about convening our meetings in a state characterized by the oppression of its gay and lesbian citizens. Let it be very clear that we condemn the legitimizing of hatred and the oppression of a significant part of our population.
Almost four decades ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a jail cell here in Birmingham words that apply today: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Just as Unitarian Universalists worked for the equal rights for African Americans during the civil rights movement and beyond, we pledge our support to the struggle for civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens of our country.
As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that it is homophobia that is the sin, not homosexuality. We encourage the citizens of Alabama to oppose Judge Moore and those who think and act in like manner, to work to change existing laws that criminalize private sexual expression between consenting adults; to reach out in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people; and to make Alabama a safe place to live, work, and worship for all people.
“Let it be very clear that we condemn the legitimizing of hatred and the oppression of a significant part of our population.”