In his first – and only, he says – remarks on the Episcopal Church's moves recognizing gays and lesbians, New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop whose consecration in 2003 has created much conflict within the church, predicted the Anglican Church would not splinter.

This week, the church approved two controversial resolutions. On Tuesday, the church voted in favor of lifting its three-year self-imposed moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops. And on Wednesday, bishops agreed to begin developing an official blessing for gay unions and give bishops in states where gay marriage is legal the discretion to offer a blessing.

At the center of the controversy over gay clergy has been Robinson, who lives in Weare, New Hampshire with his husband.

The gay resolutions, which passed by an overwhelming majority, have left conservatives feeling detached, something Robinson called a “valuable” experience.

Says Robinson, 61, who spoke exclusively with the New York Times Thursday: “Progressives stayed around and in the Episcopal Church for 30, 40 years when we were the minority, and our voices weren't heard, and we were pushed out. I think a lot of them have never felt what it felt like to be in the minority. A bunch of straight white guys are now sitting there and having that experience, which is something I think could be valuable for anyone to experience.”

When asked to explain the vote counts – both measures passed decisively – Robinson said there was a realization by the bishops of where gay marriage is headed.

“Everyone acknowledges they know where this is going, that gay marriage is becoming a reality. But we're trying to bring our people along. One bishop said to me he voted 'no' so he could go home and do this work, as he explained it, 'so I can bring my people along.' He used the Nixon in China analogy. This was a bishop who voted 'no' on my consent in 2003.”

The Episcopal Church is not the only religious denomination struggling with the questions of gay unions and gay clergy. The Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian denomination, approved the appointment of an openly gay minister, Rev. Scott Rennie, over the loud objections of conservatives last month. And several denominations bless gay unions, including the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. But the Episcopal Church, with its 77 million members worldwide, is certainly the largest having the debate.

Conservatives in the church repeated their calls to defect this week, but Robinson said he believes the Anglican Church – of which the Episcopal Church is the American branch – will hold.

“I think it will hold,” Robinson said. “Now that we've done the, quote, unthinkable, the church won't look much differently than before. Opponents of marriage equality predict the end of Western civilization as we know it if gay couples are allowed to marry. And then when it comes, there's no big whoop.”