Retired Bishop Gene Robinson

Gene Robinson, who rocked the Anglican Church when he became Christianity’s first openly gay Bishop, is divorcing his husband.

He announced the split with Mark Andrew, his partner of 25 years, in a statement on Saturday.

“As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for us – not a decision entered into lightly or without much counselling. We ask for your prayers, that the love and care for each other that has characterised our relationship for a quarter century will continue in the difficult days ahead,” Robinson said.

He also wrote about the breakup for The Daily Beast, explaining that “all of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of ‘til death do us part.’ But not all of us are able to see it through.”

Robinson went on to say: “It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples.”

Robinson, who retired last year, added that, “My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate. Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

Robinson, 66, was elected the Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the US Episcopal Church in 2003, making him the first openly gay, non celibate priest to be ordained as bishop in a major Christian denomination.

His ordination sparked an ongoing controversy over gay clergy and led to a schism in the global Anglican community, with African religious leaders in particular threatening to split from more progressive American churches.

In 2009, Robinson was invited to give a prayer at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

When he announced in 2010 that he planned to retire, Robinson said: “Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark, who has faithfully stood with me every minute of the last seven years…”

The two men met in 1987 and tied the knot in June 2008 in a private civil union ceremony. Robinson was previously married to a woman before he came out as gay and had two children with her.

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