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The Gay Bishop's Links

Episcopalian bishop-elect Gene Robinson has some curious affiliations.

2:48 PM, Aug 4, 2003 • By FRED BARNES
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THE CONTROVERSIAL gay Episcopal bishop-elect of New Hampshire is a founder of a group called Outright that supports gay, lesbian, or "questioning" young people 22-years-old or younger and gets them together with older gay and lesbian role models. On its website, Outright had a link to a pornographic website--until the link became an issue in the fight at the Episcopal Church's national convention in Minneapolis over ratifying the election of the bishop-elect, Gene Robinson, by New Hampshire Episcopalians. The link, indeed all links, were removed from the website today.

Robinson was reported to have denied any knowledge of the link. But he has made no secret of his connection with Outright. In his official biography, he takes credit for founding Outright, "a support group for gay/lesbian/questioning teens." Robinson has said his aim is not to be a "gay bishop," but his connection to Outright and his public appearances with his gay partner may make that label unavoidable.

The role of homosexuals in the church has divided Episcopalians across the country and at the convention. Robinson has already been approved as a bishop by the Episcopal council of priests and lay members. His election must also be endorsed by the church's council of bishops. Also on the agenda at the convention is the matter of creating a special blessing for homosexual couples.

Scheduled for Monday, the vote by the bishops was postponed indefinitely, pending an investigation, after Robinson was accused of sexual harassment. The charge came in an e-mail purportedly from a man in Vermont. The man said Robinson had "put his hands on me inappropriately" at a church meetings several years ago.

The gay issue is threatening to split the Episcopal Church. Conservatives, traditionalists, and their allies note the Bible is explicit in identifying gay sexual relations as sinful and insist the church should stand against worldly trends. The church's official position is opposition to sexual activity outside of marriage. The pro-gay side argues the church must accept everyone, including gays. Those standing with Robinson say conservatives have threatened to leave the Episcopal Church before--and that they backed off then and are likely to do the same now. However, some parishes are exploring a different option: aligning with bishops outside the United States who oppose openly gay priests and bishops.

Fred Barnes is executive editor at The Weekly Standard.

Correction appended 8/4/03: The piece originally stated that the bishops' vote was put off until Tuesday. It has been put off indefinitely.