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Gay US bishop enters into civil union with male partner


Gene Robinson, the openly gay US Episcopal (Anglican) prelate whose 2003 consecration as a bishop has caused an ongoing battle within the Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality, has joined into a civil union with his male partner of 19 years.

The private 7 June ceremony at St. Paul’s Church in Concord, New Hampshire, was not a wedding. Under New Hampshire law, same-sex couples are allowed some legal privileges though those fall short of formal marriage. However, Robinson and his partner Mark Andrew observed both secular and religious services, according to a spokesperson for the bishop.

Following the passage of legislation in 2007 that permitted civil unions in New Hampshire state, Robinson, 61, said he and Andrew would take advantage of the law. New Hampshire became the fourth US state to allow civil unions between same sex partners.

Robinson had joked that he and Andrew would hold the ceremony this month because he had "always wanted to be a June bride".

Robinson has not been formally invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to attend the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of Anglican bishops from all over the world that starts in July. However, Robinson plans to attend the gathering as an observer.

In a letter sent to Williams in May, New Hampshire Episcopal clergy and laity said they "vehemently protest your refusal to send an invitation to the Lambeth Conference to our bishop.

"In addition we protest your censorship of Bishop Robinson from preaching or presiding at a Eucharist while he is in England. Not including our bishop means that you also exclude our representation and participation."

Robinson, 61, is a divorced father of two daughters.