AC Petition: Including LGBTQI People in UMC Decision-Making

WHEREAS, racism, sexism, and homophobia plague U.S. society, each in their own way and also in intersectional ways, and many United Methodists and members of the New York Annual Conference have struggled against these “isms” (and others) within and beyond our church; and

WHEREAS, the United Methodist Church has for 45 years denigrated LGBTQI people as “incompatible with Christian teaching” in its Book of Discipline; and

WHEREAS, LGBTQI people have struggled and fought for that entire time to reverse that prejudiced and harmful designation and the many discriminatory BOD provisions that followed from it, using every prescribed method of change from legislative petitions to judicial challenges; all of these institutional channels have resisted change and LGBTQI people have no recourse within them; and

WHEREAS, the UMC General Conference, the sole law-making body of the church, effectively excludes LGBTQI people from representation: lesbian, gay, and bisexual clergy cannot serve as delegates without risking prosecution by the church; the anti-LGBTQI pronouncements and policies of the BOD have so poisoned people against LGBTQI people that LGBTQI laity cannot win election as delegates in all but a handful of dissident annual conferences; and the general institutional hurdles that skew the General Conference composition towards economic and social privilege and institutional insiders are particularly difficult barriers for LGBTQI United Methodists to overcome; and

WHEREAS, the fundamental reality created by these obstacles is that for nearly half a century LGBTQI people have had no meaningful participation in the decisions that govern their very existence in the church; and

WHEREAS, the mandate of the Commission on the Way Forward is “to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality” and yet, shockingly, the commission has only token LGBTQI representation and even that representation is from only one narrow segment of the LGBTQI community, excluding both people of color and transgender people, meaning that yet again, our United Methodist polity has denied LGBTQI people the ability to shape the rules that determine their status in the church; and

WHEREAS, a special General Conference called for 2019 is being convened for the sole purpose of considering the Council of Bishops’ recommendations in response the commission’s report; and

WHEREAS, there is only one LGBTQI-identified member of the Council of Bishops; and

WHEREAS, the New York Annual Conference has for nearly four decades stood in consistent opposition to the UMC’s systemic exclusion of LGBTQI people and has worked earnestly to include and empower LGBTQI people in the life of the annual conference;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the New York Annual Conference shall elect a new delegation for the 2019 General Conference, said election to be held during NYAC’s 2018 annual conference; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that the conference urge its members to cast their votes for the 2019 General Conference delegation in such a way as to constitute a majority-LGBTQI delegation with strong representation from communities of color so that the delegation reflects the full diversity of LGBTQI communities as well as the broad diversity of NYAC, in order that LGBTQI people can have the genuine ability to shape the delegation’s positions and presence at the special General Conference; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the New York Annual Conference share this resolution with other annual conferences.

[by MIND, original draft by Dr. Dorothee Benz, authorizing the use and adaptation of this petition throughout the Connection]