November 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm EST | by Staff reports
National news in brief

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson said he will not retire from public life and will continue to visit campuses and forums. He said he will devote his time to worldwide evangelism and LGBT advocacy. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Bishop Robinson to retire; cites strain of debate

CONCORD, N.H. — The first openly gay bishop elected in the worldwide Anglican Communion — whose election caused a firestorm of debate about the scriptures and homosexuality — announced Nov. 6 that he’s retiring in 2013 because the controversies have “taken their toll” on him, his family and followers, the Guardian and several news outlets reported.

Bishop Gene Robinson, who was consecrated in the diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 and will turn 65 in 2013, said he will opt for an early retirement because “the constant strain” has become too much to bear.

The controversy hasn’t calmed — last year traditionalists in North America broke away from the U.S. Episcopal church to set up their own network. This year Episcopalians — the U.S. arm of the Anglican Church — consecrated a lesbian to the post of assistant bishop in Los Angeles.

“Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark, who has faithfully stood with me every minute of the last seven years, and in some ways, you,” Robinson said in a Guardian quote.

Supreme Court refuses to step into custody dispute

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has declined to step into a lesbian custody dispute between a woman who has renounced her homosexuality and her former partner, the Associated Press reported this week.

The justices on Monday turned down an appeal from Lisa Miller, the biological mother of an 8-year-old girl. Miller wanted the court to undo a Virginia court decision allowing her ex, Janet Jenkins, visitation rights with the girl. Jenkins is from Vermont. Miller is from Virginia. They had a Vermont civil union in 2000. Their daughter has been the subject of a long-running legal fight.

Miller got involved with a conservative arm of Christianity and says she’s no longer a lesbian. She and her daughter did not appear for a court-ordered custody swap in January. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Bullying claims the life of Pennsylvania teen

MIDDLEBURG, Pa. — Students at Midd-West High School in Middleburg, Pa., are mourning the suicide of a freshman who ran in front of a truck at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the Daily Item, a regional newspaper.

Brandon Bitner, 14, had been a victim of intense bullying students told the Item. He walked about 13 miles from his home to a busy road where he met his death. He’d left a suicide note at home.

“It was because of bullying,” Takara Jo Folk told the Item. “It was not about race or gender but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which they wrongly accused him of.”

His death came just days after an anti-bullying assembly was held at the school. Student Briana Boyer said the students didn’t take the assembly seriously and joked about it.

Mich. asst. attorney gen’l fired for harassing gay student

LANSING, Mich. —  Michigan removed its assistant attorney general, Andrew Shirvell, on Monday for allegedly harassing a gay student leader, actions that had prompted condemnation from local officials and the University of Michigan to ban the state official from campus, according to a report from All Headline News.

Shirvell, 30, was fired after a two-day disciplinary hearing on allegations he had harassed and stalked Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan’s student assembly, AHN reported.

The former assistant attorney general had said he was exercising his First Amendment rights during his personal time. But Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who previously defended Shirvell’s free speech rights, said Shirvell was removed because he harassed Armstrong and lied to investigators during the hearings.

Cox cited three visits Shirvell made to the student’s home, one at 1:30 a.m. Shirvell had also followed Armstrong while the student was out with friends in Ann Arbor, and made calls to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, where Armstrong was an intern, in an attempt to have the student fired.

Officials also found that Shirvell had posted attacks against the student on the Internet while he was at work. The online posts, however, were not themselves cited for Shirvell’s removal from office.

Shirvell’s lawyer told the Free Press that the decision to remove the assistant attorney general seemed “political.”

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