Veteran journalist Ted Malone wrote before General Convention that its votes this year could cut the Gordian knot of the Episcopal Church's nearly three-decade debate on homosexuality. Now the Gordian knot is half-severed, and the House of Bishops must decide whether to keep on slashing.

The Rev. Canon Gene Robinson of New Hampshire coasted to victory Sunday afternoon in the House of Deputies, winning more votes than he needed among both clergy and laity.

Robinson needed 56 votes in both the lay and clerical orders to be approved by the deputies. In the lay order, he won 63 votes (32 dioceses voted no, and deputies in 13 dioceses divided their votes equally). In the clerical order, he won 65 votes (31 dioceses voted no, and 12 were divided).

At the urging of its president, George W. Werner, the house observed an extended moment of silence and chaplain Brian Prior said a prayer before the vote. Werner also stressed that neither deputies nor observers should express their joy or dismay about the results. The Rev. Rosemari Sullivan read the dissenting votes calmly, diocese by diocese, before announcing the tally in Robinson's favor.

Robinson's advocates sounded a consistent theme of "Do not fear" and alluded only occasionally to the concerns of Southern Hemisphere primates who have announced their opposition to Robinson's confirmation. Liberal deputies described those concerns as "threats of schism."

"My grandmother always told me that fear is the absence of faith," said Bonnie Anderson of the Diocese of Michigan.

During an open hearing on Friday morning, James Bradberry of the Diocese of Southern Virginia dismissed the overwhelming vote of the bishops gathered at the Lambeth Conference in 1998. "On this issue, Lambeth is absolutely ...

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