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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 June, 2003, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
US church elects gay bishop
The BBC's Michael Buchanan
By Michael Buchanan
BBC correspondent in Washington

Episcopalians in the American state of New Hampshire have elected the first openly gay diocesan bishop in the Anglican communion.

Fifty-six-year-old Canon Gene Robinson has been described as the most dangerous man in the American Church.

Gene Robinson
Canon Robinson said leaving his wife was his greatest risk

A father of two, he says he left his wife when God called him to acknowledge himself as a gay man.

He describes that decision as the biggest risk of his life, but says he has been rewarded by the love of a wonderful partner with whom he has lived for the past 13 years.

Canon Robinson has served the diocese of New Hampshire for nearly 30 years and is considered eminently qualified to be a bishop.

But his election could have a major impact on the wider Anglican communion.

Ahead of the election, traditionalists within the Church who oppose the ordination of practising homosexuals said it would be a mistake to elect Canon Robinson.

One African bishop has said it would be an abomination for a sexually active gay man to be a bishop and pressure is likely to be put on the head of the Anglican Church, Dr Rowan Williams, to denounce his lifestyle.

However, liberals within the Church hope that Canon Robinson's win would allow the Church to discuss the issue in a less ideological fashion.




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