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UUs Living the 5th Principle — Jean Bowen’s report from the State House

It is heartening to see the impact of the work done by our members in social justice. As I sat in the gallery at the State House during the special session on September 19, waiting for bills to be called, I took pride in the work our Social Justice Team has done to improve the lives of women and immigrants, to achieve racial justice, and to protect the environment.

Dave Reude was there on behalf of the Racial Justice Steering Committee to witness passage of the Justice Reinvestment Package, 13 bills to reform Rhode Island’s criminal justice system. The bills include changes to laws on sentencing, probation, and parole. The reform package was a top priority of the RI UU Legislative Ministry. To read the text of some of the key bills in the package, open these links:








Lisa Petrie has led the Green Task Force in the tireless efforts to oppose the Invenergy power plant in Burrillville and National Grid’s proposed LNG production facility at Fields Point in Providence. The Task Force has collaborated with Fossil Free RI, Interfaith Power and Light, the Environmental Council of Rhode Island, and Nature’s Trust RI. Our members have led efforts to improve the environment for Rhode Islanders.

Kari Kurto, Gail Burchard, Barbara Holtzman and Mary Alice Kimball participate in The Woman Project and advocated for the Reproductive Health Care Act, which would prohibit the state from interfering with a woman’s decision to prevent, commence, continue, or terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability. To read the text of the bill, open this link:


Aline Couture and I are advocates for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. This grassroots organization advocated for the Protect Rhode Island Families Act. This bill, enacted on September 19, prohibits possession of a firearm by a person convicted of domestic violence or a person under a domestic abuse-related restraining order. To read the bill text, open this link:


The Moms, who attend legislative sessions in their red tee shirts, made a final push for this bill in September after three years advocating for it. It was heartening to stand with other Rhode Island UUs dressed in red as we put into practice our 5th Principle, “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregation and in society at large.”

The Social Justice Team is planning a legislative forum on Wednesday, November 8 at which we will summarize progress on the key issues chosen by the RIUU Legislative Ministry in the spring. We have invited local legislators and will open the forum to our social justic partners in South County. Watch for more information about this event.

– Jean Bowen, Chair, Social Justice Team (jeannbowen@gmail.com)