Former New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson and partner divorce

By ENS staff
Posted May 5, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Former Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson has announced that he and his partner of 25 years Mark Andrew recently decided to get divorced.

In a message to the diocese announcing the decision, Robinson said: “As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for us, not a decision entered into lightly or without much counseling. I’m sure that you will understand the private nature of this change in our lives and our commitment to keeping those details appropriately private.”

Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion in 2003 and served as the Diocese of New Hampshire’s episcopal leader until his retirement in January 2013.

“Our life and ministry among you continues to be something that both of us count as an honor and blessing,” Robinson wrote to the diocese. “We ask for your prayers, that the love and care for each other that has characterized our relationship for a quarter century will continue in the difficult days ahead.”

Incumbent New Hampshire Bishop Rob Hirschfeld asked the diocese to “keep both Gene and Mark close in your prayers as they seek God’s deep peace and healing. We love them both dearly, and our gratitude for their ministries is profound. May the God who can turn our sorrows and tribulations into freedom and life through Christ visit each of them in their journeys ahead.”

In an article for The Daily Beast, titled “A Bishop’s Decision to Divorce,” Robinson wrote 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.

“As my marriage to Mark ends, I believe him to be one of the kindest, most generous and loyal human beings on earth,” Robinson wrote. “There is no way I could ever repay the debt I owe him for his standing by me through the challenges of the last decade.”

Robinson wrote that his “favorite piece of bumper-sticker wisdom” right now is: “In the end, all will be well. If all is not well, it is not yet the end.”

Robinson, who served as canon to the ordinary in the New Hampshire diocese from 1988 until his ordination as bishop coadjutor in November 2003, has two daughters from his first marriage to Isabella McDaniel, which ended amicably in the mid-1980s.

“Life keeps on coming at you, ready or not. And sometimes life brings pain and seemingly impossible choices,” he wrote in The Daily Beast article. “So, for me, all is not well right now; but I believe – no, actually I know – in the end, it will be.”


Comments (16)

  1. Nellwyn Beamon says:

    Although Mark is Gene’s partner, he is also Gene’s HUSBAND. There are many partnered LGBT couples who still cannot legally refer to their partner by a spousal name. I think the headline needs to be changed from partner to husband. And I am very sorry for them. I cannot imagine the enormous pressure that these two have had to live with.

    1. Joseph F Foster says:

      We are not legally required to refer to “Mark” as “Gene’s” “husband”. And I for one refuse categorically ever to do so.

      1. Steven Lee says:

        Right, it should now be “ex partner,” and I’ve always wondered why, if Robinson coudn’t get along with his wife or partner, how’d he get along with so many people in New Hampshire! Marriage isn’t for everyone, and I think that’s the argument the Roman Catholic Church still uses to defend celibacy, right?

    2. Judith Wood says:

      Partner is fine and so is soul mate. Husband and wife are heterosexual terms which are supported by the teachings in the Bible. To have a partner or soul mate in life is a true blessing and making a commitment shows strength and belief in that relationship. Any relationship of commitment, be it a civil union or marriage is an act of love and trust and does not necessarily require sexual orientation. God created Eve so that Adam would have a companion or partner to share in the work so that Adam would not be alone. The rest is history. We know what that produced. Why anyone out side of a union between a man and a woman would want to use heterosexual terminology is beyond me. I have met both of these men and I am sorry for their loss.

      1. Steven Lee says:

        Sign on the wall of a restroom in a late cousins’ house: “God created man, and God created woman, and since then, neither man nor woman have rested!”

  2. Nancy Buechett says:

    Do we publish every single bishop divorce here? If not, leave our gay bishops alone. Life is hard enough for us all without this nonsense.

    1. Helen Bell says:

      the reality is that Gene Robinson’s sexual orientation, and him being elected as the first openly gay, partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion, gave him a certain level of celebrity status. As such it became necessary to make public statements about major life events for him to avoid the rumor mill creating its own stories. Sadly all the external pressures could not have been good for their marriage. I pray they each find happiness and peace and that they are able to maintain a friendship despite the divorce.

    2. Lisa Fox says:

      I agree, Nancy Buechett. Bishops in the Anglican Communion divorce all the time, without any news story. I am deeply sad for Bishop Robinson and his husband that they are divorcing. But, alas, since his ordination was so newsworthy, I guess so his his divorce. Would that it were not so.
      I will be praying for both of them.

  3. Talmage G. Bandy says:

    I am a heterosexual woman, married for 60 years and a deacon in the Episcopal Church. I am deeply sad that Bishop Gene and Mark have come to the end of the line for themselves. May God bless them both and may they truly find peace and happiness.

  4. rob riveras says:

    when Gene retired, he stated then that he would be standing back and away from the affairs of the congregations and of the diocese. And now we are dragged into this sad and very personal drama when indeed this matter is pastoral/personal and therefore expected to handled appropriately. There is and was no need for Gene to “come out” as a gay man facing divorce. Enough already with Gene being the center of attention even in his post-retirement days. Some folk need to get a life, look at where there feet are and be who they are, where they are. Bless you both but front page news does not and will not comfort you in your struggles.

    1. Steven Lee says:

      I’m wondering if it was THEIR decision to put this on the front page! Is it: AWWW? OMG? SWEET? Or FAIL?

  5. Michael Morrissey says:

    What are the reasons for the divorce? Gene’s statement makes everything seem pretty affectionate.
    Is there something else? What will the PB do? Is she going to followup with an inquiry? If there is an instance of infidelity, what will she do? She suspended Bp Warner (retired, Olympia) for 10 yrs.
    So does this count as a second divorce or are they separate but equal?

    Gene refers to Mark as “husband.” What’s the inference here? So, Gene (a gay man) was married to a woman (two children) then got a divorce and married a man. And, now they are divorced.

    Somehow, I wonder how this is playing out for the bisexual community? It seems to me that the very principles which have led to marriage including hetero and homo sexual marriages have left the bisexual people out in left field. If a bisexual person seeks ordination and is in a triad committed relationship, our canons say that sexual orientation will not be a bar. However, will all three be recognized at the ordination- ordinand and spouses?

    1. Steven Lee says:

      Bisexuals should be celibate. I’ve never met Robinson in person, but from mutual friends (clergy), I understand he has many good gifts and is highly regarded pastorally, and I don’t doubt it. But the problem I had with him from the start was that he and the 1st wife did this sort of “hocus pocus” do it yourself divorce in front of the altar, unsanctioned by the hierarchy. Then he calls his partner a “husband.” Excuse MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE? That’s why I think sometimes it IS best for clergy to be celibate!

  6. Bruce May says:

    If you know Gene Robinson, you know right away that this man is not someone who gravitates to the limelight. He never hid who he was and his family and friends always supported him. The people of the Diocese of New Hampshire never elected a “Gay Bishop.” They elected and supported a shepherd to head the Diocese. His sexuality was not a factor in his election. Like many holy and saintly people before him, thousands upon thousands of people who never had a voice had a very strong voice in Bishop Gene Robinson.
    Chief Joseph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Gene Robinson are people I look up to. When Archbishop Tutu preached at the Consecration of Ian Douglas of Connecticut a couple of years ago, I was more excited that Gene was also there. After the service, I searched out my friend and spiritual mentor.
    As someone who has experienced his own divorce, this is a time when we should be holding both Gene and Mark in our heads and in our hearts. This has to be a very, very difficult time for both men. They are, after all, God’s people, just like the rest of us.

  7. rob riveras says:

    It troubles me that folks seem have some impression of Gene being “saintly” or in some other way above fault or frailty–NOT. And frankly anyone who has known Gene personally, as have I, it would be clear that Gene LOVES and seeks out the “limelight”–he shines! This front page news had to have been manipulated by Gene for most of us could not care less at this point whether Gene divorces, leaves the ministry or achieves some other notoriety. May he and Mark know peace and blessing each day. Each of us only has this moment so make the most of it through prayer, kindness toward others and love for all.

  8. Frank Riggio-Preston says:

    I pray that Gene and Mark find peace and God’s love as they move on in their lives. Sometimes life changes from our long-made plans and expectations. We can only hope that we have some loving memories that are not filled with hate and anger. And to answer some of the questions, yes, Genes has been marries twice and will be divorced twice. Once from a WIFE and once FROM a husband. For all the support to both straight and gay and bi and trans another folks in the Episcopal Church and not in the Episcopal Church, my husband and I are extremely grateful.

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