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CNN BREAKING NEWS

House Of Deputies Approves Gay Bishop

Aired August 3, 2003 - 20:02   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And some say it will split the Episcopal church in two. In a ballot tonight, delegates voted to approve the candidacy of an openly gay priest as the church's bishop from New Hampshire.
Susan Candiotti is joining us live from the church's general convention meeting Minneapolis.

Susan, it sounds like it was a very impassioned debate, but also very respectful. What was your take?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was, Kelli. It was both dignified and compelling. And tonight, Reverend Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, won more than the simple majority of votes he needed in the House of Deputies, as it's called, to bring him one step closer to his goal, trying to become the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church, which is part of the worldwide Anglican communion.

Now today, he passed the first of two votes required to elevate him to bishop. The House of Deputies debating the issue for about 45 minutes. This is a man who was a priest, who was married for about 13 years, began divorced. He has two grown daughters. And now he has been involved in a relationship with a man for at least 14 years.

After the vote, Robinson, while recognizing that not everyone will be happy with today's results, says nevertheless that he feels peaceful and humbled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENE ROBINSON, REV., EPISCOPALIAN PRIEST: I think we have two wonderful opportunities. One is to say the world this Episcopal church is wide open. There is no one beyond God's love. And you are welcome here. We mean what it says in our signs. The Episcopal church welcomes you.

GEORGE WERNER, PRES., HOUSE OF DELEGATES: For many, it's going to be a time of hope. And for many, it's going to be a time of great despair. And that's why we turn at moments like this to as much prayer and silence and discernment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now the second man who spoke is the president of the House of Deputies, who said he himself voted for Robinson. He said that Robinson in his view won with a wider margin than he expected. 10 more votes than were needed by both the clergy and the lay people who were casting those ballots.

Now those in opposition, however, say at this time, a dramatic line has been crossed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENDALL HARMON, REV., AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL: A bishop who is to be a symbol of unity is going to become a symbol of disunity and a source of deep pain for millions of Anglicans worldwide, the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now that man, Reverend Kendall Harmon says that he predicts there will be a split if this matter goes any furthers and maintains that because of his relationship with another man, that Reverend Robinson goes against everything that is in scripture, according to him.

Now for tonight, however, tonight Reverend Gene Robinson is enjoying the moment with both his partner, as well as one of his two daughters, who has been here throughout the week. However, tomorrow for him is the critical vote. This matter must pass before what is called the House of Bishops, made up of 100 diocesan bishops in the Episcopal church for him to be, in fact, consecrated as a bishop - Kelli?

ARENA: Susan, is tomorrow's vote expected to be tougher for him? Is that a tougher audience?

CANDIOTTI: It is expected to be a tougher audience. However, according to Reverend Robinson, he feels as though from talking to a number of the bishops that they might feel possibly emboldened by today's results. He said he recognizes that he feels that they are very concerned about what their parishioners will think after this happens. He knows that they are concerned about possibility of division in the church. But he says, in the end after all, a message to everyone else who might be watching is that maybe a lot more people are now learning about the Episcopal church than before.

ARENA: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much for that report.

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