FIRST OPENLY GAY BISHOP APPEARS ON '60 MINUTES': Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire

Thu Mar 04 2004 15:03:55 ET

Drudge Report

The first openly gay bishop appears on 60 MINUTES on the day of his investiture as the bishop of the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire. Bishop Gene Robinson will be featured in an Ed Bradley report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday March 7 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. It will be the bishop's first extensive national television interview.

Robinson allows 60 MINUTES cameras into his life, public and private, including his New Hampshire home he shares with his partner of 16 years, Mark Andrew, and a gay bar he frequents in New York City. "I am not embarrassed about being a gay man. I am not embarrassed about being in a place with other gay folk," he tells Bradley.

He speaks about the controversy his new status has caused in the Episcopal Church, acknowledging many Episcopalians consider his lifestyle sinful and he's been called "the most dangerous man" in the church. He responds, "I am not something odd and unusual. I think I am probably dangerous because I'm pretty mainstream. I've got a mainstream family. I believe in the church. I believe in God and I'm only dangerous because I'm not weird," says Robinson.

Robinson believes there have been other gay bishops and that he is just the first to openly admit his sexuality. In a church social he allowed 60 MINUTES to tape, he tells members of a congregation, "I think [the controversy] will calm down when people see that not a lot has changed. Let's be clear. We've always had gay bishops. All I'm doing is being honest about it."

The choice of Robinson as Bishop has shocked many in the Anglican Communion, the worldwide group of Episcopal Churches, in the U.S. and overseas and could cause a schism. He's mostly been accepted in the New Hampshire diocese he'll be running, but parishioners at the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester, N.H., are against him and their pastor, the Rev. Don Wilson, was fired for not accepting Robinson's authority. Wilson says his vows to the church involved adherence to Scripture and protecting his flock from doctrine contrary to it. On these grounds, he rejects Robinson and urges others to follow. "Stand. Just don't accept [Robinson's authority]," says Wilson. The Church of the Redeemer plans to split from the Episcopal Church.

Robinson believes that in enough time he can win some of his critics over, but some defections are inevitable. "I can't make those decision for those people...I can't stop them from leaving," says Robinson, who thinks there will be more openly gay clergy in high positions. But before the calm, there will be a storm. "It's not all going to go back to being nice and pretty again. It's going to be messy for awhile," he tells Bradley.