WHY IS UNITARIAN Universalism appealing to gays? Archene Turner, co-chair of Capital Area Interweave, a group with about 40 members representing 15 D.C.-area Unitarian Universalists Churches, says it might have something to do with the fact that the religion has ordained gays and lesbians, and supported same-sex unions, since the '70s.
''One of our first principles is the inherit worth and dignity of every person,'' Turner says. ''We are a [group of] people drawn together that don't believe in creeds, but we want to also always have a beloved community. We encourage individual members to find their own spiritual path, within our doors.
''Our religion has called us to balance the scale of injustices in the world and we've been committed to doing this for years and years.''
Margaret Albamonte, also co-chair of CAI, says the group is proud of its ''comprehensive sexuality education,'' taught at elementary school levels and up.
''I don't want to make it sound like we tell our kids they can have sex at age 5, we don't,'' she says. ''But we want them to understand about themselves and their bodies and treat themselves protectively.''
Turner describes it as giving language to identity.
''We don't shy away from homosexuality, bisexuality or even asexuality in our conversations and so many of our youth end up participating in [gay-straight alliances], because they understand that the decisions a person makes to be gay, even though it may be different from them, it doesn't mean they can't affirm and honor it.''
To get involved, Turner suggests visiting www.uua.org and finding a congregation to attend. ''
Don't expect every Sunday to be the same,'' she warns. ''Because we are so eclectic, you can go to the same church and have a varying experience from Sunday to Sunday, as you can from each congregation to congregation.''