Openly gay Bishop Gene V. Robinson
announced Saturday that he's retiring in 2013, the AP reported.
Robinson was elected the first openly
gay bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2003. His ordination created a
deep divide between the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and its
more liberal American branch, the Episcopal Church, and led to a
self-imposed moratorium on the election of gay bishops.
The sixty-three-year-old bishop of the
diocese of New Hampshire announced his plans at the annual diocesan
convention in Concord.
The last seven years, he said, had
“taken their toll on me, my family and you.” He added that the
controversy over his installment coupled with death threats had “been
a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark.”
In May, Episcopalians installed their
second openly gay bishop, Assistant Bishop Mary D. Glasspool, who has
been in a committed relationship with Becki Sanders for over 22
years, after lifting the ban on gay bishops at its general convention
the year before. Her ascension further divided the two churches.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan
Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, called
Glasspool's election “regrettable.”
Conservatives in the church opposed to
openly gay clergy reacted by forming a rival church, the Anglican
Church in North America.
The Episcopal Church further strained
relationships last year when it authorized bishops to bless gay
In thanking congregants for supporting
him, Robinson said he believes they elected him because they believed
he was the right leader. “The world has sometimes questioned that,
but I hope you never did,” he said.