Openly gay bishop astounded by ‘progress’

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ten years ago this month, Gene Robinson was ordained in New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church — and in his own words, “all hell broke loose” in the denomination and among its global partners in the Anglican Communion.

The now-retired Bishop Robinson, speaking to a small but supportive audience at East Liberty Presbyterian Church Saturday, said he’s astounded at the changes in the political and religious climate in the past decade.

Gay marriage has become legal in about 15 states — when Bishop Robinson was ordained a bishop, there was no place in the country where he could legally marry his longtime partner, which he was eventually able to do in New Hampshire. And while homosexuality continues to be debated and opposed in many religious denominations, Bishop Robinson noted that the ordination of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s first openly gay bishop in September in California made a blip in the news.

“I can’t believe the progress we have made,” Bishop Robinson said. “If you are anywhere around my age, you could not have dreamt in your growing up that you would see what you have lived to see.”

Bishop Robinson said the recent changes are due to decades of activism and of gay people identifying themselves as such.

“Coming out is the most political thing you can do,” Bishop Robinson said, citing the murdered gay-rights pioneer Harvey Milk. “If they know us, they’ll love us.”

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