General Assembly 2004 Event 2027
She talked of her difficult decision to not sign marriage licenses until there could be legal same-sex marriages and what considerations she had to take into account as to how it would affect her church. Her main concern was not to make problems for heterosexual couples who wanted to get married in her church as there was a worry the church would lose rental income from heterosexual couples refusing to use the church's facilities. But her board of directors supported her decision. Then three non-UU colleagues from nearby churches agreed to sign licenses for her.
The response was incredible: the switchboard was clogged with affirming calls, and positive emails were plentiful. There were lots of requests for interviews; and requests for traditional male/female weddings went up. Because of the media attention and the apparent respect for the decision, the whole undertaking has actually increased building rentals.
He told of his experience in Atlanta; when he gave a sermon in favor of same-sex marriage, he had no idea how his congregation would react. Much to his surprise, he received a standing ovation. After he forwarded the sermon to a friend, it got into the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, and that's good enough for me.” That line from his sermon became the tag line that the newspaper highlighted.
He also has been active in an interfaith clergy group in Atlanta. This has been an amazingly positive experience. Again, requests for heterosexual weddings have gone through the roof.
She told of her journey through her ground-breaking marriage to her partner Julie. The attorney who they had been working with had spent years working on this project. When they asked her if she and Julie wanted to be lead plaintiffs in the case, they agreed, with no knowledge of what that meant.
The 7 couples in the Massachusetts case had a retreat over one weekend, for training in how to handle the media. They were told not to mention it to the media so as not to alert the other side. Hillary talked about the importance of staying on message, how you need “your gold, silver, and bronze messages.” They practiced their messages a lot in front of video cameras.
Other advice she offered:
On the importance of getting your message out: If it's not public, and it's not witnessed, it's not public witness! She focused on the public message, how you address the world.
For work at the national level:
Reported by Allan Stern; edited by Joyce Holmen.
Janet Hayes, Information Officer, UUA
These pointers were adapted from a presentation by Evan Wolfson to the UUA Public Witness Team. Evan is the head of Freedom to Marry, and has led the movement for the past decade.
Opponents will often use terms like "traditional marriage," but in reality there's no such thing. You don't have to go back as far as the Bible to tackle this fallacy. Responses to "historical" objections should emphasize four historical shifts in marriage within many adults' lifetimes (note that attacks on gay marriage often include prejudices that apply equally to one of these four areas of progress in American marriage law):
Understand the difference between the Decision to Marry and the Decision to Litigate. Evan Wolfson advises couples to marry and go about their lives, to tell their stories and then wait for the right place and time for any legal challenges. Contrary to the common perception, this struggle is not entirely about legal strategies. Wolfson and the national legal groups strongly encourage couples to "bear moral witness" rather than litigate. Any decision to litigate should be made in consultation with GLAD or another national BGLT rights organization that has legal resources and expertise.
"Bearing Moral Witness" is a powerful and spiritual act, but it is not easy. Below are a few things to consider if you are interested in sharing your story:
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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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