Blogging from GA: Arizona!

Well, it was an interesting discussion, dear readers.

Apparently what happened in the mini-assemblies was a lot of amazing, thoughtful, and hard work.  And they crafted from those mini-assemblies a resolution that bore little in common with the original resolution to boycott Phoenix by moving our General Assembly in 2012.  The full text of it is below.  What it was, in sum, was a proposal that we go to Phoenix and have a different sort of GA with minimal business and focused on working with our allies to effect change.

With the mini-assembly process completed, only two amendments were allowable in the plenary today.  One was to adopt an included by not incorporated amendment to strike the language about doing minimal business.  The other was to strike the whole resolution that came from the mini-assemblies and revert back to the original boycott resolution. 

First, there were a lot of procedural questions.  Then there was a lot of pro and con debate, the con folks mostly wanting to go back to the position of boycott.  Then 20 minutes were added to the clock, so we could debate some more.  The UUA folks had, in their wisdom, created 20 minutes of extra time in the schedule predicting that we might need this.  And the debate went on.  On the pro side were most of the constituencies involved, which made the question easier for the gathered delegates--DRUUMM, the Phoenix minister, the youth caucus, etc.  On the con side was, however, a representative of No More Deaths, who said that she had tried, but not been given the opportunity, to speak in the mini-assemblies.  This is definitely something that happens--we run out of time for every voice to be heard.

Then came the time for amendments, and both of the allowable amendments were put up, of course.  And both were voted down by large majorities.  The first vote on this was a bit confusing for people, and it looked like they were going to vote to return to the original resolution.  Fortunately our competent moderate realized that this was because people were confused, and recognized a pro and con to help people understand, and then we voted them down.  Then we returned to pro and con on the resolution from the mini-assemblies.  This continued until we ran out of time, and people were going to expand discussion or go into tomorrow, but then when our moderator reminded people that since we had voted down returning to the boycott resolution, the only option was adopt this or do nothing and do business as usual, it was clear what needed to be done.

And so, in the end, we adopted the resolution from the mini-assemblies that called for a justice-focused, minimal-business Phoenix GA in 2012.

What do I think?  I wasn't one hundred percent certain going into the plenary, but I leaned towards boycott.  I still believe money talks, and boycotting would send a strong message.  And I worry that one more protest in the street, even if you add a few thousand UUs to it, won't make a whit of difference the way pulling out all our money, save the deposits would.  A friend was estimating that in total UUs probably spend at least 7.5 million dollars when we hit a city, and that amount of money does talk, especially when added to the other organizations also pulling their meetings out of Arizona.

But, in the end, it's compelling to heed the calls of our advocacy groups, DRUUMM and LUUNA, and the ministers of Arizona, and the local Arizona advocacy groups calling for us to come.  And because of the way this new resolution was worded, and the words of the Phoenix minister sharing her vision, I feel certain that we won't just go down there and do business as usual, which I think would have been the worst option.  There are arguments on both sides of the boycott question, and, in the end, we came together as one faith and chose a strong option in front of us, working with our allies, and focusing on the work of justice.

Hopefully, for years to come in Unitarian Universalism, people will look back at GA2012 as a key moment in our religion's history where we set aside our usual ways and did the work of justice, standing on the side of love and faith, and helped to create a deep change in our nation.


Business Resolution on Phoenix General Assembly 2012

Whereas the state of Arizona has recently enacted a law –SB 1070—that runs counter to our first principle, affirming the worth and dignity of every person; and

Whereas the Association stands in solidarity with allies mobilizing in love against this divisive and oppressive legislation; and

Whereas we have been invited to enter into an historic partnership with Puente and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) to work for human rights and against racial profiling; and

Whereas the UUA By-laws specify that the power to call and locate a General Assembly belongs solely to the UUA Board of Trustees;

Be it resolved, the Assembly hereby:

1. Calls on the UUA Board to gather Unitarian Universalists for the purpose of witnessing on immigration, racial and economic justice—a “Justice” General Assembly in which business is limited to the minimum required by our by-laws—in June 2012, to be held in Phoenix, AZ.

2. Calls on the UUA Administration to work with leaders in Arizona UU Congregations to establish an Arizona immigration ministry to partner with other groups in Arizona working for immigration reform to strengthen those partnerships in preparation for our arrival in 2012.

3. Recognizing people with historically marginalized identities will be exposed to increased risk and inaccessibility, instructs the UUA Board to work in accountable relationship with Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), Latina/o Unitarian Universalist Networking Association (LUUNA), EQUUAL ACCESS, Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together (TRUUST) and other stakeholders to identify measures that can be taken to increase safety and accessibility at the 2012 ‘Justice’ GA.

4. Calls on the UUA Board to direct the economic impact of our presence in Phoenix toward our partners and allies as much as is feasible.

5. Calls on the UUA Board to continue providing the resources needed to build the capacity of Unitarian Universalists to stand in opposition to systemic racism in our congregations, local communities, and in our own lives.


RevNaomi said…
The mini-assemblies were a big part of the process. But after the first one, the groups proposing two substantial amendments were encouraged to find a way to come together. They figured out who needed to be part of that and then listened deeply, prayed, and discussed overnight and through the day until the next mini-assembly. What came back was what we eventually ended up voting on, as worked on by the mini-assembly. The actions that had been proposed reflected months of conversation and developing relationships and discussing strategies; the actions taken to the delegates reflected the same plus more intensive process. That's a powerful practice of our fifth promise.
fausto said…
What does "work in accountable relationship with" advocacy groups mean? Shouldn't our advocacy groups be accountable to our Board, not vice versa?

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