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Associated Press, Published December 05 2009

Lesbian priest among candidates for position in Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - An openly lesbian priest is among the candidates for assistant bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. If elected today, she would become the second openly gay bishop in the national church and the global Anglican fellowship.

Two rounds of voting at the diocese's annual convention late Friday did not produce a winner. Balloting resumed at 9 a.m. today.

When voting ended Friday, the Rev. Mary D. Glasspool of Baltimore, who has a female partner, was drawing a large share of votes. Another gay candidate, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, withdrew late Friday, winnowing the original field of candidates to five.

The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Breakaway Episcopal conservatives responded by forming a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America. Several overseas Anglicans have pressured Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican Communion's spiritual leader, to recognize the new conservative entity.

Anglican leaders in 2004 had asked the Episcopal Church for a moratorium on electing any more gay bishops while they tried to prevent a permanent break in the 77 million-member fellowship. However, last July, the Episcopal General Convention, the U.S. church's top policy body, voted that the job of Episcopal bishop was open to priests in same-sex relationships.

The Los Angeles diocese had openings for two assistant, or suffragan, bishops.

In the election for the first vacancy Friday, the winner was the Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, rector of St. Clement's-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente. She will be the first female bishop in the diocese.

The Los Angeles diocese has 70,000 members and covers six Southern California counties.