Voting opens today for the next Los Angeles assistant bishop and two of the six candidates are openly gay.

The Rev John L Kirkley of San Francisco and the Rev Mary Douglas Glasspool of Maryland are both in committed same-sex relationships.

If one is elected, they would be the first out bishop to be selected since Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire, was consecrated. His appointment caused deep rifts between liberals and traditionalists.

In the last three years, the Anglican Communion has been pushing the Episcopal Church to “restrain” the numbers of gay bishops in order to avoid a split in the Anglican church. No new gay bishops have been consecrated in this time.

The Episcopal Church will only ordain gay and lesbian bishops in committed relationships, rather than those who are single.

In August, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota announced that a lesbian had been nominated for the role of bishop.

The Rev Bonnie Perry of Chicago, who lives with her partner of 22 years, was one of three candidates.

She lost out to the Rev Brian Prior in October.