Some speculation has mentioned the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness (UUPA) as a factor for this decision.
Here's a sample quote from The UU Enforcer blog that illustrates a representative example of this speculation:
"I have been thinking and talking and reading about the whole independent affiliate status tussle going on and one of the things that was pointed out to me was that this occurred, this being a whole lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through, because no one wanted to come out and say to the Polyamorists get out! Yup instead of having some back bone and saying "sorry you missed the sixties, but you can't try and relive it here" the UUA board tried to avoid the conversation and set up some pretty high bars for groups to reach."If that's the "real" reason behind this decision (and I hope it's not), I would find it troubling.
To me, this decision might be analogous to the tactics used by the Salt Lake City school administration to eliminate all extra-curricular student clubs because fairness and equal treatment laws demanded that the school officials allow for a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in the public schools. The ACLU of Utah has background info on this case here.
The school administrators were forced to allow GSA groups if they allowed extra-curricular clubs. The "fairness" requirement was externally imposed by the Federal Law guaranteeing equal access for student-led clubs.
For Unitarian Universalists, our "fairness" requirement was not externally imposed by legislation. It comes from our Principles and Purposes along with the mostly implicit theology that our principles come from.
Like the Salt Lake City schools facing the GSA decision, it's possible that our UUA Board side-stepped any future decisions regarding the UUPA and official recognition by raising the bar.
And it's one way to avoid our theological requirement for fairness in who we choose to welcome or not welcome in our faith community.
For folks who are traveling to General Assembly in Portland, there will be a series of meetings to examine the future of non-congregational affiliates. More details can be found here.