Opposition to gay and lesbian people is “irrational” and “based on a history of discrimination,” said Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster at a February meeting with the gay lobby group Integrity – Vancouver. He told the group his goal is to persuade the vast majority of Anglicans who are fair and open minded that accepting committed gays and lesbians won’t make the church an “unfamiliar” place. According to a report of the meeting posted on a Web site, Bishop Ingham acknowledged the hurt and disappointment many gays and lesbians must have felt following his announcement Jan. 16 to delay a decision on approving committed gay and lesbian relationships for at least two years. He also established three commissions to study the issue further. The report said Bishop Ingham explained that he had asked for a second vote on the issue at the diocesan synod in May 2001 so that if it is a favourable one, the diocese could act before General Synod has a chance to pass a negative motion at its July 2001 meeting. Integrity members expressed disappointment that Bishop Ingham could do no better than promise more talk and that he welcomed ex-gays to participate in his Commission on Hearing Gay and Lesbian Voices, which he argued is essential for the commission to have any credibility with conservative Anglicans. Meanwhile, the Anglican Essentials group has apparently written a letter to Bishop Ingham saying they will take the diocese to court if necessary to try to prevent the blessing of same sex unions. Bishop Ingham is reported to have said he regarded the letter as a “threat.” He told the Integrity meeting that he feared Essentials might try to dominate General Synod in 2001. But he was apparently criticised for the heavy emphasis on politics rather than pastoral care for gay and lesbian people.He is said to have replied, “If you think this is not political, you are naive.” He also said part of his strategy is to find “a way around the House of Bishops,” indicating small dioceses have disproportionate power there. Bishop Ingham could not be reached for comment.