First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Is Getting Divorced

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 4 2014 5:05 PM

First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Is Getting Divorced

Bishop Gene Robinson attends "The Case for Gay Marriage" panel during the 2010 New Yorker Festival

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New Yorker

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop is divorcing his husband and partner of 25 years. Bishop Gene Robinson, whose 2003 election led to a rift in the Anglican Church, announced his divorce in an email to the Diocese of New Hampshire, where he served for nine years before his 2012 retirement, reports the Associated Press. Robinson also wrote a piece in the Daily Beast about the divorce. Although Robinson notes that the “details of our situation will remain appropriately private” he highlighted that he wants to “be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life.” The retired bishop goes on:

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. 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.
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. Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot. It will take a lot of work, a lot of grieving, and a large measure of hope to see it through. And that’s where my faith comes in.

Robinson was ordained a priest in 1973 and first publicly came out as gay in 1986 when he divorced his wife. “He has since been open about the heavy toll he has faced under public scrutiny,” reports Religion News Service. “Four years ago, he underwent treatment for alcoholism.” Robinson met his future husband a year after his divorced and they moved in together soon afterward. The two men were joined in a civil union in New Hampshire in 2008, which then became a legal marriage in 2010.  Bishop is not the only openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church anymore as Bishop Mary D. Glasspool was consecrated in 2010.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.


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