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Bishop Gene Robinson to divorce his husband

09 May 2014

By a staff reporter


"Forever grateful": Bishop Robinson pictured in 2008

"Forever grateful": Bishop Robinson pictured in 2008

A FORMER Bishop of New Hampshire, in the United States, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, has announced that he is to divorce his husband and partner of more than 25 years.

The first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, Bishop Robinson retired early from New Hampshire last year, aged 65, citing the toll that his election as bishop had taken upon him as the reason for his departure (News, 12 November 2010).

He had married his husband, Mark Andrew, in 2010, when same-sex marriage was legalised in New Hampshire, but the couple had been together for 25 years.

Writing on the news website thedailybeast.com, Bishop Robinson said: "Recently, my partner and husband of 25-plus years and I decided to get divorced. While the details of our situation will remain appropriately private, I am seeking to be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life - coming out in 1986, falling in love, and accepting the challenge of becoming Christendom's first openly gay priest to be elected a Bishop in the historic succession of bishops stretching back to the apostles.

"As my marriage to Mark ends, I believe him to be one of the kindest, most generous and loyal human beings on earth. There is no way I could ever repay the debt I owe him for his standing by me through the challenges of the last decade. I will be forever grateful to him, and as I tell couples in pre-marital counselling, marriage is forever, and your relationship will endure - whether positively or negatively - even if the marriage formally ends.

"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."

Bishop Robinson's election as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 prompted a furore across the Anglican Communion. Groups of conservatives disaffiliated themselves from the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Archbishop of Canterbury of the day, Dr Williams, did not invite him to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. He was the target of death threats and hate mail, and had to wear a bulletproof vest under his cassock.

In a letter to the diocese announcing the divorce, he described it as "not a decision entered into lightly or without much counselling. . . I need to hold on to the belief that God will have the last word, and that word is hope. And sometimes life brings pain and seemingly impossible choices. So, for me, all is not well right now; but I believe - no, actually I know - in the end, it will be."

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