Tag Archives: testimony

LD 912 – An Act to Clarify the Scope of Practice of Certain Licensed Professionals Regarding Conversion Therapy.

Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau and members of the Committee on Labor, Research and Economic Development
My name is Carie Johnson. I am the ministe
r at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta. I have served on the board of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination. We are here today to speak on behalf of Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network.

Unitarian Universalism is a welcoming faith tradition, with a call to continually put our beliefs into action. We promote social justice, equity and compassion through words and actions. It is with that as a foundation that I am here today to ask for your support of LD 912 – An Act to Clarify the Scope of Practice of Certain Licensed Professionals Regarding Conversion Therapy. These dangerous and discredited practices that attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity must be prohibited by Maine’s state-licensed mental health providers.

So-called “conversion therapy” is ineffective. Sadly, some religious groups who consider being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender a sin have promoted this idea of “reparative therapy.” Through these harmful practices, LGBT people may be wrongly led to believe they are unacceptable to God, their families, and their community. Our theology teaches otherwise.

Unitarian Universalism’s First Principle is the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and the Second is justice, equity and compassion in human relations. We teach that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are created in the image of God, as are all people, and therefore do not need to be repaired or changed in sexual orientation or gender identity. Our Principles call me as a Unitarian Universalist minister to condemn the dehumanizing practices of so-called conversion therapy and to urge you to ban these practices in Maine.

As a faith leader I often find myself counseling people, young and old, straight and gay who are trying to find their way in the world. Nothing in this proposed legislation would stop that. I tell people to explore their own sense of self and ask what is true for them and talk about the things that confuse them or spark their wonderful sense of curiosity. I build relationships with people who have different sexual orientations and gender identities by being respectful and helping them to experience all the joys of this world. As a spiritual leader I invite all people to cross-divides of difference and take risks by authentically choosing to get to know one another.

Just this month a panel of eight gender diverse youth with various sexual orientations presented their stories of coming out to a community of supportive and affirming members, friends, and family. In bearing witness to their experiences we celebrated their dignity, worth, and value. These courageous young adults are leaders in strengthening and advancing messages of love and acceptance, affirmation and celebration of all God’s children. They open the doors for their peers and adults to live authentically and to find their way out of depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior including suicide.

I urge you to join these young leaders in the work to protect the inherent worth and dignity of every Maine child and youth; to promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and to prevent dangerous harm by prohibiting licensed professionals from engaging in so-called “conversion therapy” in Maine. Thank you.

LD 914 – An Act To Establish Indigenous People’s Day

LD 914 Committee on Local and State Government
March 22, 2017

Hello my name is Rev. Carie Johnsen. I am a Unitarian Universalist Minister. I am co-convener of the Decolonizing Faith project at Maine Wabanacki REACH. I am here today to urge you to vote ought to pass on LD 914 An Act to Establish Indigenous People’s Day.

Two years ago the Capital Area Multi-faith Association led a Thanksgiving Interfaith Service titled “Turning Toward Truth: Forging a New Story of Thanksgiving.” In this service we sought to dismantle the distorted history and American mythology of Christopher Columbus by speaking truth to the conquest, terrorization and genocide of the indigenous people. We spoke truth to the role of the church by naming the devastating impact the 16th Century Papel Bulls known as the Doctrine of Discovery had and continue to have on rights of indigenous people and tribal sovereignty.

I ask you to take the same steps in turning toward truth by speaking honestly about our shared national history. With an end of Columbus Day, we acknowledge the attempted conquest of a people and their land. With the end of Columbus Day,we are saying NO to the glorification of the American story of Racism, domination, colonization, and genocide.

I enthusiastically support the establishment of Indigenous People’s Day and urge you to vote ought to pass. The establishment of Indigenous People’s Day commemorates the history and present day story of indigenous people, their resistance and their resilience. It is one small step in turning toward right relationship and repairing the harm. It is an opportunity to turn the corner and begin to build bridgers between the St
Ate of Maine and Wabanaki Nations.

Establishing Indigenous People’s Day is the moral imperative of our time. It is simply the right thing to do.

LD 1475: An Act to Reduce Child Poverty by Leveraging Investments in Families Today

Senator Brakey, Representative Hymanson and Members of the Committee:

My name is Carie Johnsen. I am a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta and a founding member of the Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network. I am here today to speak in support of LD 1475.

I live in downtown Augusta and serve one of the center city churches. Every day I encounter the working poor of this city who are striving to make ends meet in an economy where the cost of living is rising faster than their daily income. Every day I bear witness to effects of deep poverty on our citizens, our children, and youth. Homelessness, hunger, addiction, insufficient resources to heat homes, unreliable transportation, and lack of access to affordable childcare create insurmountable barriers for a family seeking to improve their living situation.

As a Unitarian Universalist, I affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and I call upon each of you to do the same. Instead of punishing and shaming those seeking help, I call upon our government to create effective paths out of poverty.

Just this morning the leaders of the Capital Area Multi-faith Association met with city officials to discuss the future of community and faith-based supports to the fore mentioned families. This faith community works tirelessly to support the programs like the Augusta Food Bank and Warming Shelter. Programs like the essentials pantry that provides toothpaste, deodorant, famine hygiene products, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, and body soap without question. Programs like the Angel Food Supper where over 150 meals are served every Saturday night to a gathered community of people who are hungry, homeless, and lonely.

Where the state fails to live up the task of helping individuals and families to thrive, the local faith community fills in the ever-widening gap with housing and heating assistance to families living on the brink. We all know filling in the gap is not an effective means of helping our citizens, our families, our children and youth to climb out of poverty, create stability, and thrive.

Today I call upon each of you to narrow that gap by voting ought to pass on LD 1475, reducing childhood poverty and improving outcomes for families, is the right thing to do.