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First openly gay bishop, NH's Robinson, to divorce

May 04. 2014 10:44AM

Bishop Gene Robinson, who led the Episcopal Diocese of Manchester as the world's first openly-gay bishop, has announced he and his spouse will divorce. (Union Leader File)

Bishop V. Gene Robinson, former leader of the Episcopal diocese in New Hampshire, has announced his will divorce his partner of 25 years, to whom he was united in a religious ceremony in 2008.

Robinson announced his plans in an email to churches in the New Hampshire diocese.

Robinson said the reasons for the divorce will remain private, but said in a story written for the Daily Beast, a news website, that going public with the divorce was as natural as going public with his commitment and union with Mark Andrew.

"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."

Robinson's open position on his sexuality led to divisions within the Anglican church when he was elected bishop in 2003.

In announcing  his retirement in 2010, Robinson spoke of a  “constant strain” including death threats and a world-wide  controversy  stemming from the controversy and division caused by his election. He was treated for alcoholism almost a decade ago.  In his announcement, Robinson spoke of how Andrew helped him endure through that troubled period:

"As my marriage to Mark ends, I believe him to be one of the kindest, most generous and loyal human beings on earth," Robinson said. "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."

And while announcing the breakdown of his own marriage, Robinson left some pastoral advice. "As I tell couples in pre-marital counseling, 'Marriage is forever, and your relationship will endure—whether positively or negatively—even if the marriage formally ends,'” he said. "The fact remains that it takes two people to make a marriage and two people to make a divorce. The reasons for ending a marriage fall on the shoulders of both parties: the missed opportunities for saying and doing the things that might have made a difference, the roads not taken, the disappointments endured but not confronted."

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