Robinson's story parallels the conversation underway in many American churches about whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of God, and also the debate in legislatures and courthouses across the nation as to whether LGBT people are entitled to equal status under the law.
His ministry takes him from the tiny rural churches of rural New Hampshire all the way to the national stage, when he was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation at his 2009 inauguration. Sometimes he is shouted down when he is leading prayers; he has received more death threats than he can count. He also receives calls from young gay Christians who draw strength, hope, and courage from Robinson's example.
But Robinson's elevation has reverberated through not only the American Episcopal church, but beyond, to the Anglican Communion as well. With the threat of a schism ever-present, dozens of socially and theologically conservative congregations voted to separate from the church and align with conservative bishops from the Southern hemisphere, a move the leadership has thus far prevented. As the pressure built, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, pointedly did not invite Robinson to Lambeth Palace in 2008 for the once-a-decade conference of the world's bishops. Robinson took his message to the media outside.
Robinson has announced his intentions to retire from the church next year at 65, and will continue his work as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, his legacy continues to be written daily across one of the world's oldest Christian traditions. He also continues the conversation about LGBT rights in his book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, answering questions like "Why gay marriage now?", "What's wrong with civil unions?", and "Doesn't the Bible condemn homosexuality?", and makes the case for same-sex marriage as a man of faith.
Update: Bishop Gene Robinson and his longtime partner have since divorced.
They say love continues even if marriage does not.