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CNN BREAKING NEWS

House of Deputies Approve Gay Bishop

Aired August 3, 2003 - 18:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KELLI ARENA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it seems we have a tally in the vote concerning the openly gay Episcopal priest to be bishop of New Hampshire. Our Susan Candiotti has been covering that story. She joins us live -- Susan.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the result that Reverend Gene Robinson wanted of New Hampshire; in fact, the resolution to move on his elevation to bishop has been approved by the House of Deputies here at this convention in Minneapolis. He needed at least 56 votes and he got at least 63 from both laypeople who voted as well as clergy who voted.

And so, this means that he is one step closer to being consecrated as bishop. He was already elected by his own diocese in New Hampshire back in June but that had to be ratified by this body, so it has passed another crucial test for him that to make him the first openly gay bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church.

That means that it moves on to what is called the House of Bishops, made up of about 100 members and that vote is expected to take place tomorrow on Monday. If he prevails there that's it. That's the end. He would indeed be consecrated as a bishop -- Kelli.

ARENA: Susan, I know that you just got that tally in. Have you gotten a chance to get any reaction at all? I mean it seems like it was pretty close.

CANDIOTTI: It was a close vote certainly. There are about 100, just over 109, 100 diocese that they had to add up and tally all of this and what happened here kind of interesting procedurally first they took a paper ballot and then they voted electronically and the reason, it was explained to me, that the did this is because whenever the vote is very close they do it both ways.

In the first instance because he didn't win by a large majority, specifically because he did not win by a two-third majority, that's when they decided to also do the electronic ballot and then compare both tabulations because the vote was indeed so close.

Regardless, all you need is a simple majority and he got it and now this moves on and so we'll be anxious to hear what Reverend Gene Robinson has to say about this. This, of course, is very satisfying to him. He'll be speaking to us about this.

He has always maintained that in his view the time was right for him to be accepted and he has been by this one body, the House of Deputies, and now it moves on to yet another level. Opponents continue to fear that if this happens that the church might be divided over this that people might tend to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church and, in fact, might even split off from the worldwide Anglican Communion, 73 people worldwide.

And, we do expect it to be perhaps even closer in this vote tomorrow, the bishops themselves voting on this. That's what's anticipated and so it will be very interesting to follow here to see exactly what happens but, certainly, this day Reverend Gene Robinson is happy that his elevation to bishop is one step closer - Kelli.

ARENA: All right, Susan thanks so much, Susan Candiotti.

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