Gays confront National Council of Churches convention

The National Council of Churches was forced to confront the issue of gay liberation at its national convention held in Pittsburgh last week. The confrontation resulted from the efforts of members of Gay Alternatives Pittsburgh, Gay Students at Pitt and Lesbian-Feminists who went to the convention held at the William Penn Hotel. On Wednesday, February 28, Bob Hughes approached the microphone when the convention chairperson asked for new business. When he was thwarted in his effort to make a statement on gay liberation on the technicality that he was not a registered delegate, the Reverend Ms. Divina Foy Crabtree of the United Church of Christ in Connecticut rushed to his aid. When it was then stated that 10 delegates’ signatures must accompany any new proposal, Ms. Crabtree requested and received the signatures of 10 delegates on the spot. As a result, a spot on the agenda was granted for the reading of a gay liberation statement.

On Thursday, several women and men from GAP, GSP and L-F attempted to set up an information table at the convention. This action was opposed by everyone from the floor maid to the manager of the hotel. However, through perserverance the sisters and brothers finally did manage to set up a table with gay literature, and received several favorable reactions from the delegates.

On Friday, Cathy Cook and Bob Hughes read the Preamble and the Statement on the Church (both majority and minority reports) from the Gay Rights Platform of the October, 1972 Gay Rights Convention to the general session of the NCC convention. Also, copies of what was read were given to each delegate.

The results of the action were impressive. First, this prestigious, powerful and wealthy organization was forced to confront gay people and their demands for the first time. In addition, several articles appeared in the Press and Post-Gazette, and at least one local TV news program broadcast film of the event. The action at the NCC Convention clearly demonstrates the impact that a small number of dedicated people can make on a large, established organization. It should be an incentive for future actions of this kind.