V. Gene Robinson was raised in a Disciples of Christ family and church in Kentucky but switched to the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) while in college. Looking back on those years, he said he questioned his sexual preference. He dated both men and women, sought therapy, finally married in 1972, and went off to New Hampshire to work for the ECUSA diocese there, including as assistant to the bishop who will soon retire. The therapy didn't work, he said. Two daughters later, he and his wife separated and then divorced in 1987. Around 1989, he says, he met Mark Andrew, a gay state employee. Mr. Andrew was at his side through much of the convention, as was one of his daughters.
Standing before delegates and reporters, Rev. Robinson maintained that the Bible's prohibitions against homosexual behavior don't apply to people who are in "committed" and "monogamous" relationships. His widely publicized comment ("God is doing a new thing") attracted rebuttals by many evangelical and pro-family leaders across the country.
Two last-minute allegations threatened to derail him in Minneapolis, but an overnight investigation commissioned by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold determined they were unfounded.
There are and have been other gay bishops in ECUSA, gay activist groups in the church maintain. Just one has so confessed, but only after he retired years ago.
Rev. Robinson was at the center of this watershed decision because ECUSA has no rules barring gays and lesbians from the priesthood. Many bishops have quietly been ordaining homosexuals for years; more and more of them are "coming out" in parishes. Now they want to be bishops, too.