The only openly gay bishop in the Anglican communion has spoken of his delight at the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.
Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, is in London for this evening’s Stonewall Awards.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk he said that the new President-elect, the first African-American to reach the highest office in the United States, was a symbol of healing.
“I am just so excited as most of America is,” he said.
“I have actually had three one-on-one conversations with Barack, and he got me into a world of trouble because I publicly endorsed him long before he was on anyone’s radar screen and Hillary Clinton was the presumed nominee.
“I think he is the genuine article – he is who he seems to be.”
President-elect Obama won a clear victory on Tuesday, taking former Republican strongholds such as Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina. He won an estimated 64,043,290 votes or 53%.
He will take office on January 20th after being inaugurated in Washington DC. Senator Joe Biden will serve as his Vice President.
Bishop Robinson may be at the top of the Episcopalian Church, as American Anglicans are known, but he grew up as a poor child in the racist southern states of America.
“I remember a world of separate drinking fountains and segregated movie theatres,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.
“Barack’s election is healing not just for the African-American community but for the white community as well.
“Just to see him and Michelle and the kids on that stage and you can imagine them in the White House … it is thrilling”
Bishop Robinson is in the running for Hero of the Year at the Stonewall Awards.
He is a figure of controversy for some in the Anglican communion, but an inspirational voice to millions of others.
His election as an openly gay man to the post of Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 caused divisions within the Church that have deepened in the intervening years.
Anglican leaders have sought a compromise with traditionalists over the acceptance of gay priests and the blessings of same-sex relationships, while Bishop Robinson has been a clear and consistent voice for gay people.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk earlier this year he revealed that he received death threats ahead of his civil partnership ceremony in New Hampshire in June and that at times he wears a bulletproof vest.