Episcopal church elects first gay bishop

Aug. 5, 2003 at 8:39 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Senior bishops of the Episcopal Church voted Tuesday to confirm the Rev. Gene Robinson as their church's first openly gay bishop.

The historic vote came after 11th hour accusations of improper conduct from a New Hampshire man who, among other things, accused Robinson of "inappropriately" touching his arm during a public conversation. Senior bishops subsequently rejected the accusations.

CNN reported the vote was 62-45 to confirm Robinson. No date was immediately set for his consecration.

Robinson, a divorced father of two who has lived with his male partner for 13 years, will become bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire.

Many have compared the controversy over the confirmation of gay clergy with the once controversial ordination of female priests. Some Episcopal leaders say it, also, will become less of an issue with time.

Priest Abigail Murphy told Newsday, "The more people experience the ministry of gay clergy, they will come to realize it's just ministry and sexual orientation has nothing to do with it."

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