First Out Gay Elected Episcopal Bishop

Tue. August 5, 2003 12:00 AM by

Minneapolis, Minnesota - The first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church was elected tonight by an overwhelming vote in the House of Bishops.

The events leading up to the final vote was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. The vote was to have taken place Monday, but was delayed after allegations of improprieties arose. (story)

David Lewis , a Vermont man accused Robinson of having touched him inappropriately a few years ago at a church convocation. The allegation was contained in an email received by church leaders late Sunday night. In the email, Davis asked the church to look into his allegations.

The alleged touching occurred in a public place as the two men were talking. There is no record Davis brought his accusations up to church authorities or police at the time.

The other charge involved a Web site Robinson founded several years ago that counsels gay and lesbian youths that allegedly contains a link to a Web site with erotic photographs. (website)

Robinson said he has not been involved in the site fore several years.

When the allegations arose, the presiding bishop of the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, ordered an investigation and suspended a vote on Robinson's appointment.

The vote by the House of Bishops was the last of three votes required to elect a bishop.

Sunday, the House of Deputies, or lower house of the church administration which is made up of clergy and lay people, voted two-to-one to confirm him. ( story)
Robinson's diocese in New Hampshire had already selected him as bishop in June.

The conservative element of the faith has warned that if Robinson is made a bishop the Church will be split by a schism. Conservative branches of the Anglican Church elsewhere in the world have also told the Episcopalians that they are prepared to withdraw recognition of the American church.

Last month the appointment of a gay man as a bishop in England created a maelstrom of dissent among conservative Anglicans ( story) and a Blessing Service for a gay couple in British Columbia ( story) earlier this year created ripples all the way to the door of the Archbishop of Canterbury the worldwide leader of the faith.

Robinson lives with his partner of 14 years, Mark Andrew, in Weare, New Hampshire where was assistant to retiring Bishop Douglas Theuner of Concord.
Before coming out he was married and has two grown children.

Although Robinson may be the first gay man to have been voted into the position of bishop he is not the first gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Former Utah bishop Otis Charles came out in 1993 but only after announcing his retirement.

©® 2003

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.