The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
elected an openly lesbian bishop on Saturday.
The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool of
Baltimore is the first openly gay bishop to be elected since the
Episcopal Church lifted its moratorium on electing gay bishops in
Glasspool beat out four other
candidates to become suffragan bishop, including a second openly gay
candidate, John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, who withdrew his name
after the second ballot. Suffragan bishops assist a diocese's
primary bishop. On Friday, clergy and lay leaders chose the Rev.
Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce for a second bishop opening, marking the
first time the diocese has elected a female to the post.
The selection of an openly gay bishop
is certain to salt old wounds still tender from the election of
Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, in 2003. The selection
created a deep division between liberals and conservatives in the 77
million-member Anglican Communion – of which the Episcopal Church
is the American branch – and led to a self-imposed moratorium on
the election of gay bishops.
But at its general convention in July
the church reversed course, voting in favor of lifting the ban. A
move that has accelerated defections among conservatives who formed
the Anglican Church in North America, a rival version of the
Episcopal Church. Several churches have rejected the church's policy
on gay clergy but say they will remain, including the Diocese of
Central Florida and Dallas.
Rowan Williams, the head of the Church
of England and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, told
Episcopalians in July that a second gay bishop would be unacceptable,
warning of isolation from the mainstream Anglican community for a
diocese that takes such an action.
In October, the Episcopal Diocese of
Minnesota became the first to include an openly gay candidate for
bishop since the church reversed its policy on gay bishops. But
after attracting few votes, the Rev. Bonnie Perry withdrew her name
after the third ballot.
Glasspool and Bruce must be confirmed
by a majority of the Episcopal Church's representatives, which
include bishops, clergy and lay persons.