At a press conference involving the three speakers who jointly delivered the 2012 Laity Address, Amory Peck of Bellingham, Wash., dropped a bombshell. When asked to introduce hersef and make a brief statement, she said that she represented all LGBT United Methodists and that she was the first (self-avowed, openly practicing) lesbian to speak before the church’s highest body. She even gave a love shout-out to her partner.
Wait, what? Did I miss something?
Peck made no mention of that major information in her part of the address, something that, she told the media, made her sad that she felt couldn’t say openly. “Ifeel like I let a lot of people down,” Peck said.
Not to stereotype, but this was a sweet-looking retiredlibrarian middle-aged church lady in a smart yellow sweater sitting here in front of us.I did remember that Peck said in her address that the that the church should be inclusive of “all persons,without exception,” a phrase that drew cheers from some of the spectators in the back of the hall.
Peck said there were some, including her annual conference delegation, who knew that she mad made a conscience decision not to talk about her sexuality before the entire gathering.
At the news conference she used the word “muzzled” in describing how she felt about avoiding the L-word in her talk to the conference. But immediately after the press conference ended I asked a followup question about whether or not she had been asked not to say that. “No, not directly,” she responded. “But I knew if I mentioned it in the draft of my speech (submitted to the selection committee) it would not have been chosen. The Laity Address is about bringing people together. That is the tradition. Of course gays and lesbians are active in the church, but there is still some of the fearfulness there.”
So consider her bravery in making her statement to a fairly crowded media room, even if she made that very difficult decision to support consensus-building and not adding to thedivisiveness.
“I, too, would like to see this (sexuality) issue resolved,” she said, “to have all people welcomed in our churches, in membership and ordination.”