Gene Robinson, first openly gay Episcopal bishop, to divorce husband

600x4501

In this photo released by the Episcopal Dioceses of New Hampshire, Mark Andrew, left, and Bishop V. Gene Robinson are shown during their private civil union ceremony performed by Ronna Wise in Concord, N.H., on June 7, 2008

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, who became a symbol for gay rights far beyond the church while deeply dividing the world’s Anglicans, plans to divorce his husband, The Associated Press reported.

Bishop Gene Robinson announced the end of his marriage to Mark Andrew in an email sent to the Diocese of New Hampshire, where he served for nine years before retiring in 2012.

Robinson would not disclose details about the end of their 25-year relationship but wrote Sunday in The Daily Beast he owed a debt to Andrew “for standing by me through the challenges of the last decade.”

“It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples,” Robinson wrote. “All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of ’til death do us part. But not all of us are able to see this through until death indeed parts us.”

Robinson did not respond Sunday to email and phone requests for comment from AP.

Robinson has never been fully accepted within the more than 70 million-member Anglican Communion, which is rooted in the Church of England and represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church.

The bishop endured death threats during his 2003 consecration and intense scrutiny of his personal life, and in 2006, he sought treatment for alcoholism. His election prompted some Episcopal dioceses and parishes to break away and establish the Anglican Church in North America with other theological conservatives overseas. Robinson was barred in 2008 by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams from the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade global meeting of all Anglican bishops, as Williams struggled to find a way to keep Anglicans united.

But Robinson was also widely celebrated as a pioneer for gay rights, became an advocate for gay marriage and was the subject of several books and a documentary about Christianity, the Bible and same-sex relationships. He delivered the benediction at the opening 2009 inaugural event for President Barack Obama and, after retirement, became a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank with close ties to the White House.

Robinson, 68, had been married to a woman and had two children before he and his wife divorced. He and Andrew had been partners for more than a decade when Robinson was elected to lead the New Hampshire Diocese. The two men were joined in a 2008 civil union in New Hampshire, and it became a legal marriage when the state recognized gay marriage in 2010.

“My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate,” Robinson wrote. “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

—  Steve Ramos

A Q&A with Bishop Gene Robinson

Bishop Gene Robinson signs copies of his book on Wednesday night at the Cathedral of Hope.
Bishop Robinson signs copies of his book Wednesday at the Cathedral.

As I reported in today’s Voice, Bishop V. Gene Robinson preached Wednesday night at the Cathedral of Hope. I had the privilege of sitting down with Robinson, who became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2004, prior to the service. Here’s a transcript:

Q: First, a quick point of clarification, last time you were here for Black Tie Dinner in 2008, you told me you couldn’t preach in the Dallas diocese without Bishop James Stanton’s permission. You’re scheduled to preach tonight at the Cathedral. Has something changed?
A: The circumstances have changed. I can’t function liturgically, which includes preaching in an Episcopal church, without the bishop’s permission, and I would never do that. When I was here, it might have been the same week as Black Tie Dinner [in 2008], I went out to [St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church]. Because I did not have his permission, I just spoke after the service at the coffee hour, but because this is a United Church of Christ parish, I’m not bound by that. But I did back in early December let the bishop know that I was going to be here and what I was going to do.

Q: So you’re not going to be breaking any rules tonight?
A: No, no headlines there.

—  John Wright

Episcopal Church approves lesbian bishop

Bishop Mary Glasspool
Bishop Mary Glasspool

The Episcopal Church has approved the ordination of Mary Glasspool as bishop of Los Angeles. She is the first openly gay person approved by the church since Gene Robinson became the bishop of the New Hampshire diocese in 1983. Glasspool is also the the first out lesbian bishop.

This news is in contrast to the local Episcopal diocese, which recently voted against same-sex marriage liturgy. More on that decision, including comments from members of St. Thomas the Apostle church and Bishop James Stanton, in the Spirituality section of Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Bishops Gene Robinson and Jane Holmes Dixon discuss LGBT issues on 'State of Belief'

I just received word that this week’s episode of “State of Belief” will feature openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson and Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon, only the second woman ordained by the Episcopal church chatting up the latest goings-on in the Episcopal church. You might know they made some very gay friendly decisions at the General Convention back in July.  “State of Belief” host and Interfaith Alliance president, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy talks to both as they “offer their unique perspectives on breaking down barriers, whether the chaos and division in the Episcopal Church reflect changing attitudes in America, and how this may impact the Church’s relationship with the Greater Anglican community, comprised of many conservative members.”

The press release said the show airs tonight but I found it already posted here. Good stuff.

—  Rich Lopez