This previous post concerns Arkansas Democrat-Gazette religion editor Frank Lockwood exposing New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein for not being at the Episcopal Church's Anaheim convention to cover the vote to ordain gay bishops--even though her story and dateline made it appear she was. But Goodstein was there during a break in the action that allowed her to file an exclusive interview with the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson. Some key passages:
GOODSTEIN: Going into this convention you said you had a lot of trepidation because you had recently been feeling a cold shoulder from your fellow bishops, and you anticipated that they were prepared to vote against the gay-related legislation. But on both key resolutions [ordination of gay priests and same-sex blessings], your side prevailed. What happened?
ROBINSON: The most significant thing that happened was on Tuesday, after the House of Bishops stopped the debate on same-sex blessings and decided to have a smaller group of bishops meet to discuss it further. They said anyone could come, and it turned out it wasn't a small group at all. There were 25 to 30 of us, and it turned out to be the most significant interaction I've had with the bishops since I've been elected.
It was profound and it was inspiring. People stood up and spoke their own truth, both the pain and the joy. Everyone spoke honestly about what they needed to go home with, what they could live with and what they couldn't.
So how do you explain the vote counts? The bishops passed both of these measures resoundingly, and we are starting to hear of many moderate-to-conservative bishops who voted "yes" on both ordinations and gay blessings.
Everyone acknowledges they know where this is going, that gay marriage is becoming a reality. But we're trying to bring our people along. One bishop said to me he voted "no" so he could go home and do this work, as he explained it, "so I can bring my people along." He used the Nixon in China analogy. This was a bishop who voted "no" on my consent in 2003.
Do you think there will now be an exodus from the church?
I think it will hold. Now that we've done the, quote, unthinkable, the church won't look much different than before. Opponents of marriage equality predict the end of Western civilization as we know it if gay couples are allowed to marry. And then when it comes, there's no big whoop.
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Which vote that you've taken here do you think will have more impact, the one on bishops, or the one on same-sex blessings?
Blessings. There are a lot of gay and lesbian people out there who are looking for affirmation, who have no desire to be a bishop. I've been saying to them, give the Episcopal Church a try, give church another try, and this is the one I wanted to go home with. Were you there after the vote?
I had to run off and file my story--it was late and I was missing my deadlines.
It was amazing. We took the vote, there were closing prayers, and usually somebody says amen and we're up and out of there. But last night not a person moved, for 10 minutes. There was absolute silence. I think we realized the momentousness of what we'd done. People just sat their quietly praying. It was amazing. It was almost as if we didn't want to leave each other.