PORTLAND, Maine — Bishop V. Gene Robinson, head of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire and the first openly gay priest to be elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Cathedral of St. Luke, 143 State St.
Robinson, 62, will speak on “Why Religion Matters in the Marriage Equality Debate” and take questions from the public. He will speak against Question 1, which will ask Maine voters on Nov. 3 to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law.
Robinson’s speech is being sponsored by the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine, a group made up of 18 denominations and groups and more than 200 clergy who support same-sex marriage.
Other sponsors of Robinson’s visit include the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Luke, Integrity Maine, the Maine Community Foundation’s Equity Fund and the Rev. Anne Fowler.
Robinson has a close relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. He participated in May 2008 in the consecration of Bishop Stephen Lane at the cathedral. Lane’s predecessor, Bishop Chilton Knudsen, participated in Robinson’s investiture on March 7, 2004, as bishop of New Hampshire.
Lane has said on the diocesan Web site that he and other Episcopal clergy in Maine are working on a marriage liturgy that could be used should Question 1 fail. The Episcopal Church approved the liturgy at its convention this summer so it could be used in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
Robinson was elected the ninth Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire on June 7, 2003. He was consecrated on Nov. 2, 2003, wearing a bulletproof vest after his life was threatened.
His election continues to ripple throughout the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part. Last year, Robinson was not allowed to participate in the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England. The event is a gathering of bishops from around the world held every 10 years.
Robinson’s story was in the 2007 feature-length documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.” His autobiography, “In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God,” was published last year.
The bishop spoke at Colby College in Waterville on Nov. 4, 2004, shortly after President George W. Bush was re-elected president and 11 states passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.
Robinson lives in Concord, N.H., with his partner, Mark Andrew, who is employed by the state of New Hampshire’s Department of Safety.