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
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