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UCC Votes Overwhelmingly for Marriage Equality says that the UCC today voted for “same-sex marriage,” but it’s more accurate to say that over 80% of the delegates to the Synod of this traditionally liberal Protestant denomination voted for marriage equality, affirming their support for the right to marry without discrimination. “The resolution calls on member churches of the liberal denomination of 1.3 million to consider wedding policies ‘that do not discriminate against couples based on gender. It also asks churches to consider supporting legislation granting equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples and to work against laws banning gay marriage.”

As SFGate notes, some churches have threatened to leave the denomination. Which brings in the library angle, because during the Council debate for the Resolution on Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation, a handful of ALA Councilors argued that passing this resolution might “get in the way,” “upset legislators,” and create “problems.”

Then several Councilors with long memories arose, and said that these were the same arguments used against ALA’s resolutions on equality forty-odd years ago, during the Civil Rights movement. You could feel the tide shift in the room after they spoke, and it shifted even more after Council voted down an amendment which would have diluted the resolution by removing the words “legislative and other government”–though it was legislative and government assaults on free expression that had prompted the resolution in the first place.

The events on Council floor reminded me of NPR’s story about the UCC vote today, where the reporter noted that this was one more in a string of “historic firsts” for the UCC, the denomination that ordained African-Americans in the 18th Century, women in the 1950s, and in 1972, just three years after Stonewall, a gay man. Equality is especially precious for people who have known its absence.

The amendment vote may have been a good thing, as I believe many Councilors, looking around at the hand vote, were surprised to see how many of their peers supported the resolution as it was written. There is nothing to embolden members of a group than for them to witness that they are not alone in their beliefs. Soon the Council resolution was overwhelmingly approved. (I’m sorry to say ALA President Michael Gorman, in his last hours as President-elect, voted for the amendment, but to his credit, he also voted for the resolution.)

I would stay a librarian whether or not this resolution passed (though in retrospect, without realizing it, it’s possible my ALA membership rode on this resolution; as long-time intellectual freedom champion June Pinnell-Stevens noted, “Just think of the reaction if we fail to pass this resolution.”). But the question is, with my de facto spouse a minister in the UCC, and with my own denomination still struggling to defend gay ordination more than thirty years after the UCC crossed that Jordan, let alone affirm the full faith lives of all its members, will I stay an Episcopalian?

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