America’s first openly gay Episcopal bishop has wed his long-term partner in a private civil ceremony this past Saturday.

Partners for almost two decades, Reverend Gene Robinson and Mark Andrews entered into a civil union (only recently made legal in Robinson’s home county of New Hampshire) on June 7th, exactly five years since his controversial appointment as the county’s bishop.

The union provides all of the legal benefits of marriage, including inheritance rights once restricted to homosexual couples.

Robinson’s controversial ordination has led to the growing schism within the global Anglican Church over the recognition of homosexuality within the Church.

Hosted at St Paul’s Church in Concord, the ceremony was described as joyful by Mike Barwell, Robinson’s spokesman, who also revealed: “A lot of his supporters and friends were there, including many members of the gay and lesbian community.”

Presiding over the ceremony was the couple’s long-time friend and justice of the peace, Ronna Wise, with the event attended by approximately 120 close friends and family.

While originally intended to be a more public occasion, Robinson decided that a more low-key event was preferable, in a bid to lower security risks, as well as to not take attention away from next month’s Lambeth conference.

Only occurring every ten years, the worldwide Anglican event has been denied to Robinson in a much reviled decision made by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

The New Hampshire Episcopalian diocese has attempted to reverse this decision, most recently in a letter sent in May to Lambeth Palace condemning the Archbishop’s apparent hypocrisy in not acknowledging the Anglican ethos of respecting differences and promoting tolerance. Williams has yet to respond.

Robinson announced in May that he would have no official role in the conference, stating that the restrictions placed upon him by organisers had caused him “considerable pain.”

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