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2003-08-05

Vote to Confirm Openly Gay Bishop Postponed After Allegations Made in the 11th Hour

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The vote was delayed after allegations emerged that Rev. Gene Robinson "inappropriately" touched a man and that he is affiliated with a gay youth counselling Web site that links to sites that link to pornography. The allegations came less than an hour before the House of Bishops was scheduled to begin debate.

The Episcopal Church yesterday delayed a final vote confirming the election of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop.

The vote was delayed after allegations emerged in the 11th hour that Rev. Gene Robinson inappropriately touched a man and is affiliated with a youth Web site that has a link to sites that link to pornography.

Robinson was subjected to extensive background checks by the church before being elected bishop by New Hampshire Episcopalians on June 7. The allegations yesterday were made public less than an hour before the House of Bishops was scheduled to begin debate and after the House of Deputies voted to approve Robinson.

Of the two allegations Robinson faces, the more serious comes in an email from David Lewis, of Manchester, VT, that he "inappropriately" touched Lewis.

Lewis sent the e-mail to some Episcopal bishops Sunday identifying himself as a heterosexual saying, '’As outstanding as Gene Robinson may have been thus far as a priest and diocesan administrator, my personal experience of him is that he . . . does not maintain appropriate boundaries with men. I believe this is an alarming weakness of character that alone makes Gene unsuitable for the office of bishop.'’

The email continued to say, '’He put his hands on me inappropriately every time I engaged him in conversation. No gay man has ever behaved towards me this way, and I have had over 25 years of associations with gay male colleagues in the Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego show business communities.'’

The second allegation is that Robinson has an affiliation with an organization called Outright, a secular peer support group for gay teenagers, and that the Outright website includes links that can lead users to other websites that some consider pornographic.

The concern about the website was first raised by conservative Web-journalist David W. Virtue.

In his digest yesterday Virtue wrote that the organization’s website '’rather than leading young people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ . . . offers adolescents a church-affirmed invitation to illegal, immoral, and perverse sex.'’

The vote on the appointment of Robinson has threatened to divide the worldwide Episcopalian church, an association of 70 million people in churches in 164 countries.

  • Rev. Michael Hopkins, president of the Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity. Integrity was founded in 1974 and is the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of GLBT persons in the Episcopal Church. Rev. Hopkins is also the rector at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Glenn Dale, Maryland. He is speaking to us from Minneapolis where he is attending the church’s General Convention.

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