All six proposed Actions of Immediate Witness were approved by significant majorities in the Sunday morning plenary at General Assembly 2007. Two inspired spirited debate.
A resolution entitled “Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which calls for an end to a policy that allows gay people to serve in the military only if they are closeted, drew statements of opposition from delegates who raised class issues and criticism of military violence. A handful of speakers expressed concerns that repeal could lead to an epidemic of hate crimes—“open season on gays in the military,” in one opponent’s phrase. A delegate from Tennessee said that many poor people of color lived in areas where jobs were so scarce that they had only two choices: the military or jail.
After the debate became emotional a delegate, trustee-at-large Tamara Payne-Alex, came to the procedural microphone to ask if there was time for a prayer, and Moderator Gini Courter agreed. After a minute of silence, Courter offered a prayer that said, “There is always enough love to go around if we create it. Let us be centered, forgiving, and caring.”
The vote was then taken, and Courter announced that it had clearly carried. To make sure people had a chance to judge for themselves, she asked the video camera operators to pan the vast plenary hall so the evidence could be seen on the giant screens on either side of the plenary stage. As the cameras panned, she called again for yes and no votes and for a show of abstentions. There were clearly many fewer negative votes than affirmative.
Another Action of Immediate Witness, entitled “Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with Transgender Inclusion and Protection,” also attracted spirited opposition from delegates who said it did not go far enough and from others who said the resolution expressed commitments the UUA has already made. It, too, passed easily.
Titles of the other Actions of Immediate Witness, as amended in “miniassemblies” where delegates work on language of the resolutions:
Support for the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Support for Immigrant Families—Stop the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Raids
Support Comprehensive Sexuality Education Legislation
Stop US Sponsored Torture—A Religions Call to Action
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Tom Stites was the editor of UU World from 1997 to 2006 and retired as its publisher in 2007. He is a member of the First Religious Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts.