Three gays on California ballot

Published May 1, 2006

Three of the seven candidates for bishop of the Episcopal diocese of California are openly gay, a development that could again focus attention on gay clergy at the church’s upcoming General Convention in June. The diocesan episcopal election is scheduled for May 6. Under the canons, or laws, of the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA), bishops elected within 90 days of the triennial General Convention must be confirmed by the full convention. The convention is set to meet June 13-22 in Columbus, Ohio. That was exactly the situation three years ago when General Convention, then meeting in Minneapolis, voted to confirm the election of the bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, who is in a long-term relationship with a male partner. That action, along with the Canadian diocese of New Westminster’s approval in 2002 of a blessing ceremony for same-sex couples, set off shock waves throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion. Tradition-alists decried the moves as un-biblical and contrary to the long-time teaching of the Anglican church that homosexuality is sinful. Liberals urged a broader interpretation of Scripture in the light of modern life and said the moves were consistent with Christian ideas of justice and compassion. A commission formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury later published the Windsor Report, which recommended a moratorium on the election of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions. The candidates in the diocese of California, which includes only the San Francisco Bay area, not the entire state, are Bishop Mark Andrus, suffragan (assistant) of Alabama; Canon Michael Barlowe and Rev. Donald Schell, both of the diocese of California, Rev. Jane Gould, of Lynn, Mass.; Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago; Canon Eugene Sutton of Washington National Cathedral and Dean Robert Taylor of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle. Mr. Barlowe, Ms. Perry and Mr. Taylor, in the personal information submitted with their essays and applications, noted that they have same-sex partners. Meanwhile, three more names have been added to the list of candidates for election as presiding, or national, bishop of ECUSA, bringing the total to seven. The latest nominees are Stacy F. Sauls, bishop of the diocese of Lexington (Ky.); Charles E. Jenkins III, bishop of Louisiana and Bishop Francisco Duque-Gomez of Colombia. The four names announced in January were Bishop Neil Alexander of the diocese of Atlanta, Bishop Edwin Gulick of the diocese of Kentucky, Bishop Henry Parsley, Jr. of Alabama and Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada.


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