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Friday, May 11, 2007

Gay Anglican bishop plans civil union next year

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New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson says, "We need to separate the civil rights from the religious rites."

By Brian Early

REUTERS, UK

MANCHESTER, N.H., May 10 (Reuters) - The openly gay Episcopal bishop at the center of the Anglican Church's global battle over homosexuality said on Thursday he hopes to enter into a civil union with his partner next year.

But New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson added that he wants to hold separate religious and legal ceremonies to set a precedent for how marriages and civil unions are performed in the United States.

"It won't be full equality until it is equal," added that he wants to hold separate religious and legal ceremonies to set a precedent for how marriages and civil unions are performed in the United States.

Next week, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is expected to sign a bill that allows civil unions for same-sex couples, making his state the fourth in the nation to do so. The law would go into effect on Jan 1.

"We need to separate the civil rights from the religious rites"
said Robinson, whose ordination in 2003 enraged conservative Anglicans and threatened to break up the church.

"It won't be full equality until it is equal"

He and his partner of more than 18 years, Mark Andrews, aim to hold two ceremonies around the middle of next year: a non-religious one where they become legal partners followed by a church service to give blessings to God for their relationship.

"Religious people and religious organizations who are not yet ready to offer the churches or the synagogues blessings on such unions, might be supportive of full civil rights for this country's gay and lesbian citizens," he told Reuters in an interview.

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