Gay bishop Gene Robinson to divorce
Published 04/05/2014 | 20:17
The first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church has announced he is divorcing his husband.
Retired Bishop Gene Robinson announced that he is divorcing Mark Andrew in an email to the Diocese of New Hampshire and an article for The Daily Beast.
The coupled entered into a civil union in 2008 that converted to a marriage when New Hampshire legalised gay marriage in 2010.
His election in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church created an international uproar and led conservative Episcopalians to break away from the main church in the United States.
He writes that details of his divorce are private and that he cannot repay the debt he owes Mr Andrew "for his standing by me through the challenges of the last decade".
"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," Mr Robinson wrote. "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."
The bishop endured death threats during his 2003 consecration and intense scrutiny of his personal life, and in 2006, he sought treatment for alcoholism.
His election prompted some Episcopal dioceses and parishes to break away and establish the Anglican Church in North America with other theological conservatives overseas.
Mr Robinson was barred in 2008 by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams from the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade global meeting of all Anglican bishops, as Mr Williams struggled to find a way to keep Anglicans united.
But Mr Robinson was also widely celebrated as a pioneer for gay rights, became an advocate for gay marriage and was the subject of several books and a documentary about Christianity, the Bible and same-sex relationships.
He delivered the benediction at the opening 2009 inaugural event for President Barack Obama and, after retirement, became a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress, a Democratic think tank with close ties to the White House.
Mr Robinson, 66, had been married to a woman and had two children before he and his wife divorced. He and Mr Andrew had been partners for more than a decade when Mr Robinson was elected to lead the New Hampshire Diocese.
"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," Mr Robinson wrote. "Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot."