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Chapter 1 Introduction

Same sex unions and the concept of lesbian and gay marriage have gained nationwide publicity in recent years with Hawaii's court case and the Defense of Marriage Act. In reality, lesbians and gay men have been struggling with and forming spiritually committed relationships as long as the heterosexual community. Dignity, as a Catholic ministry to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, believes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons can express and engage in sexual relationships in a manner that is consonant with Christ's teachings and Christian values. It is at the core of our mission to support these relationships that can be loving, life-giving and life-affirming. In light of these beliefs and in its commitment to meet its "Challenge for a Unified Tomorrow," that DignityUSA through its Board of Directors and House of Delegates established the National Couples Task Force to gather, compile and identify information and resources for the development of a couples ministry.

The National Couples Task Force, comprised of one couple from each region of DignityUSA, began meeting in March 1996. The Task Force initiated its efforts with the development and distribution of a survey that elicited the needs and desires of the local chapters with regard to Holy Unions. Results from the local chapters revealed that couples ministry is considered very important nationwide. So important that a few chapters have established well-respected ministries currently in place. The chapters further reported that they desire DignityUSA to provide direction and support in formulating guidelines for Holy Unions and in developing suggestions for resources for couples ministries at the chapter level.

As a result of the survey, the National Couples Task Force proposed the following recommendations to the DignityUSA National Board of Directors in October 1996:

  1. That DignityUSA formulate guidelines for Holy Unions.
  2. That DignityUSA develop a resource booklet for couple's ministry.
  3. That DignityUSA declare an annual National Couples Day/Month.

The Board of Directors accepted the recommendations of the Task Force and called upon us to continue our work and bring it to fruition. Therefore, we present this resource booklet as a part of our work in the hope that it will serve as a springboard to developing a couple's ministry in your chapter.