Colorado UCCs, UUAs March Forth for marriage equality
Written by Emily Schappacher
February 28, 2014
The issue of marriage equality has taken a front seat in Colorado since Feb. 19, when nine same-sex couples filed a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. Members of the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association will stand in a public display of support for Colorado's same-sex couples and their right to marry the person they love during an ecumenical March Forth action on Tuesday, March 4.
March Forth is a church-wide initiative led by the UCC that encourages participants to recognize March 4 as a day to lift up the social justice and advocacy work church members engage in every day. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Unitarian Universalist Association have partnered in the effort, encouraging their members to also use the day to underscore the work they do to improve the lives of people in their communities, the nation, and the world.
"The overall goal of the event is to make a visible show of support from the faith community here for marriage equality," said the Rev. Wayne Laws, social justice minister at Mountain View United Church UCC in Aurora, Colo., and an organizer of the action. "There are lots of things happening across the county – like the [anti-LGBTQ] bill in Arizona that was hidden under the umbrella of religious freedom. We want to get the word out that not all Christians think like that."
"We are taking a stand with the cases that were recently filed," said the Rev. Jann Halloran, pastor of Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church in Parker, Colo., who is also participating in the action. "We want to support those people and eventually change the state's constitution so it doesn't read that marriage is just between one man and one woman.
"[March Forth] is a chance for two closely-related denominations to take a stand for something they passionately believe in and have worked together on for a long time," Halloran adds.
Area UCC and UUA congregations will hold a news conference and rally outside of the Colorado state capital building the morning of March 4. Leaders from both denominations, including the Rev. Sue Artt, acting conference minister of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the UCC, will speak during the rally, as well as a representative from One Colorado, an organization that works for equality for LGBT Coloradans and their families. The March Forth event will come on the heels of a rally organized by One Colorado on Monday, March 3.
"Our event happening the next day really lends support and encouragement from the faith community," Laws said.
Representatives from the UCC and the UUA drafted a letter detailing their support of marriage equality that they will read at the rally. Laws said the group also plans to distribute the letter to the area's major newspapers and television stations.
"Both the Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ affirm that an essential aspect of achieving full equality in our state and nation is to legally recognize the marriages of same-sex couples," the letter states. "Thus, working for full marriage equality for LGBTQ persons is one of our highest priorities. Both Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ congregations and clergy have long recognized and celebrated same-sex marriages within our faith traditions."
Laws said local UCC and UUA congregations are using March Forth as a "springboard" for future collaborations, and the groups will utilize a luncheon after the really to get conversations rolling. Both denominations have a strong emphasis on social justice, and marriage equality is just one of the many issues both groups have supported for decades. Other issues they may work on together in the future include immigration reform, wage theft, reproductive justice, criminal justice reform and environmental issues.
"My hope is that our UU and UCC churches can build upon our relationships and partner on other issues as well," said Halloran. "No church by itself, nor denomination alone, can make a difference without many partners and alliances, and I hope our denominations, near cousins, can maximize our resources by working together."