Church To Host Panel On LGBT Issues

Leesburg Today
February 12
By Erika Jacobson Moore

Two Unitarian Universalist congregations in Loudoun are coming together this Valentine’s Day to give voice to the subject of civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, and the panel will include two of county’s elected representatives, John Stevens, chairman of the School Board, and Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles).

Both men are Unitarian. Stevens is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun in Leesburg and Miller attends services at the Unitarian Universalists of Sterling, and both were asked by their ministers to take part in the panel.

“It is very difficult for people who want to speak in a civil way about LGBT issues to do it sometimes because they’re told that just raising the subject itself is hostile,” Stevens said about his reason for participating. “A lot of people feel uncomfortable with it. They don’t know how to start the discussion with friends and neighbors. We’re hoping to make the whole topic a little more civil and more easy to address.”

Standing on the Side of Love is being organized by the Unitarian Universalists Association and events are being held in congregations across the country Saturday and Sunday. The Loudoun “Re-Imagining Valentine’s Day” event is designed as a forum for people to discuss how to make Loudoun a more accepting and welcoming community, but Miller also hopes that some who do not believe in the gay rights movement are present to take part in the debate.

“This is a place to have a dialogue with some of the folks who play a role in shaping the amount of tolerance,” Miller said. “I think all of us are in a position to help explain what we think and why, and then hear from other people who don’t necessarily agree with us. I wouldn’t want people to think that even though I disagree with them I don’t care what they think. I would like to find some common ground. And you cannot do that without having a dialogue.”

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