As General Assembly 2007 was coming to a close Sunday evening, delegates came forward with six “responsive resolutions,” which were approved with little or no debate:
Reaffirming 2004 and 2006 Actions of Immediate Witness regarding the Iraq war and urging delegates to take “all necessary action to end the U.S. Occupation of Iraq.”
Encouraging congregations and the Association to research their histories for “complicity with the genocide of native people, with slavery and the slave-based economy, and with all types of racial, ethnic, and cultural oppression past and present, toward the goal of accountability through acknowledgment, apology, repair, and reconciliation.” The resolution asks for progress reports at the 2008 and 2009 General Assemblies.
Charging delegates to work with their congregations to engage with issues of race and voting, such as intimidation or felon disenfranchisement, and to interact with people in communities of color regarding their voting experiences. The resolution asks that key insights be reported at next year’s General Assembly.
Affirming “the commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, including transgender individuals” and urging that “this spiritual value” be expressed through “employment practices, educational efforts, congregational life, and public witness.” The resolution notes that no prior General Assembly statement specifically addresses the Association’s views on transgender identity and encourages congregations “to explore with their communities the important differences between sexual orientation and transgender identity.”
Noting that about 200 ministers and staff employed by UU congregations do not have health insurance and urging the congregations to raise the money to provide it. The resolution addresses the issue in terms of economic justice.
Asking the General Assembly Planning Committee to discuss devoting at least 30 minutes of the opening of General Assembly 2008 for attendees to engage with their assumptions when encountering new people and “compassionate response and witness when we fall short of our aspirations to expand our capacity to be allies to our fellow Association members and our larger community.”
The UUA bylaws permit delegate-initiated resolutions in response to the reports to the General Assemblies by UUA officers. At last year’s GA there was one [Correction 3.10.08: There were in fact four responsive resolutions in 2006. —The editors]; this year the number equaled the number of Actions of Immediate Witness, which undergo a rigorous process of proposal, petition, amendment sessions, and floor debate. There is no such process for “responsive resolutions,” although approval requires a two-thirds vote. In fact, there was almost no debate on any of them.
One delegate raised a procedural question about whether the process was adequate, and Moderator Gini Courter said that she, the parliamentarian, and the UUA legal counsel had been discussing the question. She said that they believed the intent of the bylaw provision was not to have so many resolutions and that the process would be reviewed before the next GA.
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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.