August 5, 2003 - Posted at: 7:10 p.m. CDT
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The Episcopal Church has elected Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop.
The vote by bishops meeting in Minneapolis was 62-to-45 to confirm Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.
Earlier Tuesday, the openly gay clergyman was cleared of the misconduct allegations that delayed a vote.
The bishop who conducted the investigation says there's no need for a full-blown inquiry. That allowed bishops from around the nation who are meeting in Minneapolis to resume debate over whether Robinson should become New Hampshire's bishop.
Allegations came out yesterday that Robinson had inappropriately touched a man and had connections to a group whose Web site can indirectly link users to pornography.
Robinson's election had sharply divided the church. Many conservatives and overseas bishops had said they would be forced to consider breaking away from the church if Robinson was confirmed.
The Episcopal Church's confirmation of an openly gay bishop is certain to strain its union with other Anglicans worldwide.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had hoped to avoid a showdown on the issue.
The archbishop who heads the Anglican Church in Nigeria -- which is six times larger than the Episcopal Church -- has condemned Robinson's election as ``a Satanic attack on God's church.'' He previously severed relations with an Anglican diocese in Canada because it allows the blessing of gay couples.
In 1998, a once-a-decade gathering of the world's Anglican bishops voted overwhelmingly voted to declare gay sex ``incompatible with Scripture'' and said homosexuals should not be ordained as priests, much less bishops.
Robinson is a 56-year-old divorced father of two who has been living with his male partner for 13 years.