Bishop Gene Robinson, who faced controversy nearly a decade ago when he became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, has advised President Barack Obama to keep away from endorsing gay marriage before the November election.

The speculation that Obama will conclude his “evolution” on the issue before voters head to the polls has captured recent headlines.

(Related: Obama will soon endorse gay marriage, Richard Socarides says.)

“I have to say I'm sympathetic to the notion that for him to openly support marriage equality before the election would complicate an already difficult task,” Robinson told gay glossy The Advocate. “I would say to him that we can't underestimate how important this is to us – this is the systemic change that we need, want and deserve. And I would push him hard to go all the way to marriage equality in his second administration.”

The 64-year-old Robinson, who serves as bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire, announced in November that he will step down from his post sometime this year.