Who is Marianne Williamson? Where does she stand on LGBTQ+ rights?

Marianne Williamson Photo: YouTube screenshot

Marianne Williamson is a longtime author on spiritual issues, a teacher, and an activist who has written 14 books, served as an interfaith pastor, and established several community service organizations. She also ran unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 and the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Marianne Williamson At a Glance

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Position sought: U.S. President
  • Current position: Author, teacher, and activist
  • Party affiliation: Democrat
  • Race/ethnicity: White
  • Gender identity: Female
  • LGBTQ+ ally: Yes

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Williamson was born into a Conservative Jewish family as the youngest of three children in Houston, Texas, in 1952. During her 20s, she studied theater and philosophy at Pomona College in Claremont, California. She later took classes at the University of New Mexico and the University of Texas in Austin.

In the late 1970s, Williamson began holding talks on interfaith spiritual psychotherapy in her Hollywood, California, apartment. Her teachings centered on the beliefs that “Divine love is the core and essence of every human mind” and “All that a miracle is is a shift in perception from fear to love.”

In 1987 and 1989, she co-founded the Center for Living in Los Angeles and New York, respectively. They became known for welcoming gay men who had HIV/AIDS at a time when society and the medical establishment largely rejected them. In 1989, she founded Project Angel Food, providing food to housebound people with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. She left both organizations in 1992 amid conflicts about her management style.

In 1998, Williamson co-founded the non-profit Global Renaissance Alliance, which organized a network of “citizen salons” to pray for national growth, peace, and other liberal causes. The group says it has fundraised over $100 million for international peace-building causes.

In 1998, she became the “spiritual leader” for the Church of Today of Warren, Michigan, a Unity Church. The Church’s beliefs derive from Christianity. The Church’s major principles include beliefs in God’s omnipotent and loving wisdom, the inherent goodness of humans, the power of thoughts to manifest experiences, the divinity of prayerful meditation, and the necessity of living truth. She resigned from the Church Renaissance Unity Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship in 2003.

She served as a board member of Results Educational Fund, a non-profit dedicated to identifying and alleviating the root causes of poverty. In 2018, she launched a “Love America Tour” to discuss national spiritual healing. She has also authored 14 books, including four New York Times bestsellers.

Williamson’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues

Williamson’s policy stances are ardently pro-LGBTQ+. However, during her 2020 presidential campaign, Williamson disavowed criticisms that her 1996 book, A Return to Love, referred to AIDS/HIV as “physical manifestations of a psychic scream” that could be helped with positive thinking and prayer.

In 2020, she defended herself against these criticisms, writing, “If you ever read an article saying that I told people with AIDS they didn’t have to take their medicine because positive thinking would cure it; or that I ever told people who got sick that negative thinking caused it; please know both those things are complete and utter lies.”

Same-sex marriage

When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide in 2015, Williamson published a tweet that read, “Congratulations to LGBT community not only for historic marriage equality win, but also for the brilliant strategizing that made it happen.”

In a 2016 interview, she said, “I feel strongly about gay marriage. I don’t think gay people deserve to be married because they’re gay. They deserve to be married because they’re American. ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ if you’re American—what else is there to discuss?”

Same-sex couple’s right to adopt

Williamson’s 2020 website expressed her support for the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act.” The law would prohibit agencies receiving federal money from discriminating against a potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

Trans children in sports

Williamson has pledged to back legislation to ensure Title IX of the Education Amendment protects LGBTQ+ students. This would prohibit sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity) discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Ostensibly, this would include school sports programs.

Don’t say gay/LGBTQ+ discussions in schools

In a February 2022 tweet, Williamson responded, “Absolutely unacceptable,” to news of a proposed amendment to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that required educators to out LGBTQ+ students to their parents.

Transgender access to public bathrooms

Williamson’s website not only mentions her support of the Equality Act — which would help ensure public accommodations for transgender access to bathrooms and other changing facilities — but it also mentions explicitly that transgender individuals are unfairly denied “full legal rights and due process rights in many aspects of their life,” something she says they would have under her presidency.

Discrimination protections

Williamson supports the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws to ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, education, housing, government programs, and public accommodations.

Her 2020 campaign website mentions, “There is still no federal law explicitly protecting … (LGBTQ) communities from discrimination. These communities, therefore, do not enjoy the full breadth of freedoms that this country espouses to guarantee to each and every citizen. This is not only unacceptable; this is in direct violation of our founding principles.”

Other LGBTQ+ issues

Williamson’s website also pledges to restore cuts to global HIV/AIDS programs, stop the rollback of transgender healthcare access, ban conversion therapy, and require police departments to train in LGBTQ+ cultural competency.

She also wrote that special asylum status should be granted to refugees fleeing “patterns of violence” in foreign countries. In a June 2019 tweet, she wrote, “State-sponsored violence against LGBT communities is prevalent in nations around the world. When I’m president, the US will reclaim its moral leadership and become vocal about this on the international stage. Anti-LGBTQ discrimination is an unacceptable human rights abuse.”

Additionally, she pledged to persecute violence against transgender persons in American custody, including prisons and ICE facilities, to the fullest extent of the law.

Williamson’s career

  • Studied at Pomona College, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Texas in Austin
  • Began teaching interfaith spiritual psychotherapy in 1979
  • Co-founded Centers for Living in Los Angeles and New York in 1987 and 1989, respectively
  • Founded Project Angel Food for housebound HIV/AIDS patients in 1989
  • Co-founded the non-profit Global Renaissance Alliance in 1998
  • Served as a “spiritual leader” for the Unity Church from 1998 to 2003
  • Served as a board member of the Results Educational Fund
  • Ran to represent California in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014
  • Ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020
  • Has authored 14 books

In conclusion

Williamson is an LGBTQ+ political and cultural ally who has used her national platform to advocate for enhanced spiritual awareness and empathy.

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