Bishop Robinson talks about civil union ceremony

Bishop Gene Robinson and Mark Andrew will have a civil union ceremony in June. Religious News Service spoke with Bishop Robinson about the ceremony and how this very personal day is a both a sign of hope and a cause for consternation, depending on who one speaks to, in the Anglican Communion.

Q: How are the ceremony plans coming together?

A: We’re very, very much looking forward to it. The first part will be a civil ceremony that will be presided over by our lawyer, and then we’ll proceed with the service of Holy Communion in which we give thanks to God for showing up in our relationship.

Q: You came under fire not too long ago for saying you always wanted to be a “June bride.” Do you now wish you had chosen different words?

A: Yeah, yes and no. On the one hand, it’s just a sign of how little humor there is in this whole debate. What I was trying to say is that all of us grow up wanting our relationships to be affirmed by our friends, and gay and lesbian people are no different.

Q: Are you calling this a wedding, or a civil union, or a commitment ceremony or something else?

A: One of the things that drives me nuts is that everyone in the press calls it a wedding, and they say we’re honeymooning in Lambeth. Of all the places I’d want to go on a honeymoon, Lambeth is the last place I’d think of.

Bishop Robinson talks about the timing of the ceremony and it’s significance.

Q: The Lambeth Conference is coming up this summer, and you said in the book that if you did your ceremony before Lambeth, it would be seen as offensive, and if you did it after Lambeth, people would think you didn’t care what Lambeth had just decided. So does it matter when you do it?

A: It does. The real reason we’re doing it now is that death threats have already started coming in from England and at our home answering machine. I am simply not willing to travel to the Lambeth Conference this summer and put my life in danger without putting into place the protections for my beloved partner and my daughter and granddaughters that a civil union affords us. It’s simply that simple.

Q: So you’re getting death threats and you weren’t officially invited to Lambeth anyway. Why go? Wouldn’t it be safer to just stay home?

A: It almost always would be easier not to follow what you discern to be God’s call. Even if it is dangerous, the Anglican Communion should not be allowed to meet without the reminder that bishops are meant to serve all of God’s people, including gay and lesbian people. Our voices will be there to remind them of that.

Q: Obviously this is a personal ceremony between you and your partner. But you’re doing it in a public way. What’s the message for the wider church, or the nation?

A: First of all, I do this because I love my partner and I’m committed to him for life. Mark and I have been together for 20 years, and this service will be in thanksgiving for God showing up during those 20 years, as well as in the future. We could have sneaked off to the town clerk’s office and solemnized our union and it would be legal, but that’s not how we’re built.

I’m keenly aware that what I’m about to do was absolutely unthinkable when I was growing up. Gay and lesbian kids today need to know that their relationships can have the kind of affirmation from the culture and the church that they deserve.

Read the rest: Religious News Service: Gay bishop discusses civil union

Past Posts