Seven hundred Unitarian Universalists (UUs) and local community members came together in Denver on the morning of Sunday, September 29, to stand (and sit and pray and sing and worship) on the side of love! For the eighth year in a row, Unitarian Universalists from the Front Range of Colorado and beyond gathered for a worship service on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol and witnessed for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) justice. Led by ministers, directors of religious education, musicians, adult and children’s choirs, and lay people from nine different Unitarian Universalist congregations in the area, participants sang hymns together, were inspired by rousing words and music, and offered blessing to each other and out to the world.
This year’s service held a tri-fold focus: to celebrate the recent victories for relationship recognition–here in Colorado and around the country, to energize ourselves to stay committed to the ongoing struggle for marriage equality in Colorado, and to challenge ourselves to expand our love and our understanding of LGBTQ justice to include issues beyond marriage equality, such as LGBTQ youth and homelessness. As a part of this expanded focus, participants took offerings, both of paper hearts inscribed with messages of love and of money, for two organizations that serve LGBTQ homeless youth in Colorado.
The now-annual Colorado Standing on the Side of Love worship service began in 2006, as a public witness of the First Unitarian Society of Denver against Amendment 43, a referendum that proposed adding a new section to the Colorado Constitution to define marriage as only a union between one man and one woman. Although the referendum passed several months later, the worship service had such an impact on its participants that they decided to continue holding it each year in the fall, as an ongoing witness for the power of love and, more specifically, as a call for marriage equality in Colorado.
As the years went on, First Unitarian invited other area UUs to join them at the worship service, along with public officials, community groups, and friends and family. The service grew–in numbers, in scope, and in energy–to be what it is today: a multi-congregation, multi-choir, multi-faced, must-attend event for Unitarian Universalists and community members on the Front Range. As we continue to grow and expand, the intention is to invite folks from other faith communities who share our vision of a world where all people are loved; all relationships, identities, and genders are understood as holy, worthy, and true; and equality is enshrined in the laws of our state and nation. Until that time, UUs in Colorado (and beyond!) will continue to witness together at the State Capitol, singing, praying, shouting, dancing, and worshipping on the side of love. For, in the words of the declaration read together in unison at the service,
We believe that everyone is created in love, worthy of dignity and respect. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are an integral part of natural and divine creation. We stand with our whole human family.
We believe that family is best defined by love and commitment, not by gender, configuration, genetics, or government. We stand with all families.
We believe that creation is characterized by diversity, and that love, relationships, self-expression, and inner truth take many forms. Reverence for diversity encourages peace and enriches all of our lives. We stand for diversity.
We believe that responsible freedom creates an environment that promotes healthy community and a culture of equality where human and divine love flourish. We stand for freedom.
We believe that true freedom must include the option to marry the person of our choice. This freedom must include the ability to move safely through the world without fear. This freedom must include access to shelter, food, work, warmth, family, and love. If these freedoms do not apply equally to all, then none of us is free.
Together, we stand on the side of love.
This post was written by Kierstin Homblette, the Beloved Community Coordinator for the Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Colorado.