Calling for Boycott:
- The UUA Board of Trustees met on May 6 and issued a letter on May 10 stating that they were recommending that we pull GA2012 out of Arizona. A Business Resolution is scheduled for a vote on this recommendation at this year's General Assembly in Minneapolis.
- The White Bear UU Church in Mahtomedi, MN, issued a letter stating that they applaud this.
- The National Council of La Raza (according to the UU World, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights group) has called for a boycott of Arizona.
- At the time of a UU World article, 18 U.S. cities were calling for boycott.
- Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) issued a statement supporting the idea of boycott.
- The group UU Allies for Racial Equality has endorsed boycott.
- Latina/o Unitarian Universalist Networking Association (LUUNA) has endorsed a boycott.
- The Facebook Page "Move General Assembly Out of Arizona" has 633 fans as of this writing.
- The Valley UU Church in Chandler, AZ, wrote an open letter in opposition to moving GA2012.
- The Arizona/Las Vegas cluster of UU religious professionals opposes boycott.
- The Priestley-Kingsbury Chapter of the UUMA believes, with dissenting voices, that boycott isn't the best answer.
- I believe there are other UUMA and LREDA groups which have stated opposition to boycott, but can't seem to find links for them.
- The (admittedly newer) Facebook Page "Keep GA in Arizona - Phoenix 2012" has 74 members right now.
And then, the Rev. Michael Tino has proposed an alternative, that we have GA 2012 at another location and at another time, but that we hold an event of solidarity and justice in Phoenix at the time GA is currently scheduled for.
And then, after all this, UUA President Peter Morales has issued a new letter. We've been invited by Puente Arizona to come to Arizona during our GA 2012 time: "We invite you to transform your General Assembly scheduled for June, 2012 in Phoenix into a Unitarian Universalist convergence for human rights in Arizona." The Rev. Morales concludes, "I believe we are compelled morally to accept this invitation. I recognize that the decision on where to hold GA belongs to the UUA Board of Trustees, but I believe we are called to go to Phoenix and create a GA like no previous GA."
The Rev. Michael Tino has already outlined some problems with the proposal from the Rev. Morales. Chief among them, to my mind are that the business of our association ought to be held at a place where all our delegates can come, and many UUs have expressed concern for their personal safety and have said they will not come to Arizona. Secondly, he argues that it is pretty impossible to legitimately transform our General Assembly into a time significantly focused on this justice work, when we have all the business of our association to contend with.
Right now, I think the Rev. Tino makes a good case. Our UU groups which represent people of color in this situation are largely on the side of calling for boycott. I have a hard time believing that it's the right thing to do to hold a General Assembly, where we hold the votes on the business of our association, in a place many people feel legitimately unsafe in going to. In fact, some people I have talked to in my own area have expressed their own concern with traveling to Arizona under this new law.
And I hear that it's important, too, that we go to Arizona and protest, and that we've been issued an important invitation to do so.
Which leaves us at something very like the Rev. Tino's proposal of doing GA somewhere else, and going to Arizona with the purpose of working with our allies there to advocate for human rights and reform of this broken system. If the event we have in Arizona is connected with a General Assembly, it will have to be a General Assembly dramatically reformed. It will have to include ways for people to vote, on all issues, from out of the state. It will have to include the setting aside of our usual GA culture and doing interfaith work and justice work instead of the usual workshops and exhibit-hall shopping. We'll have to spend less time in plenaries highlighting one program after another so that we can spend more time on the streets.