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social sciences

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Glasspool, Mary (b. 1954)  
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Glasspool was on the committee in charge of arranging security for Harris's consecration. Precautions included outfitting Harris with a bullet-proof vest to wear under ecclesiastical robes at the ceremony, the same measure that would be taken at the installation of V. Gene Robison, the first openly gay man to become a bishop, in 2003.

Harris, by then retired, concelebrated Glasspool's elevation to bishop in 2010.

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While working in Boston, Glasspool also met her life-partner, Becki Sander, who was studying for advanced degrees in both theology and social work. The couple has been in a committed relationship since 1988.

Glasspool left Boston to become the Rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, Maryland in 1992. The suburban parish was considerably larger and better funded than the one in Massachusetts, and so she had to tackle numerous administrative tasks in addition to fulfilling her primary pastoral role.

The 1990s were a time fraught with tension over the church's stance on homosexuality. Glasspool did not duck specific questions about her own sexual orientation, but the members of her fairly conservative congregation generally refrained from asking any, and so Sander "was invisible as far as the parish was concerned," Glasspool conceded.

In 2001 Glasspool was chosen to be Canon to the Bishops of the Diocese of Maryland, and with the new post she took on a wider range of responsibilities. "In my heart, I believe there is a significant part of me that is and always will be a parish priest," she stated, but she rose to the challenge of serving the entire diocese through preaching and teaching, attending to the needs and concerns of clergy, organizing retreats, and working on planning and development, among other duties.

Because of the breadth and diversity of her experiences in that position, Glasspool was a strong candidate when the Diocese of Los Angeles sought to elect two Bishops Suffragan in 2009. Bishop Jon Bruno stated that Glasspool's duties in Maryland had been functionally equivalent to the work of a Bishop Suffragan.

One of six candidates in the field, Glasspool was elected on the seventh ballot on December 5, 2009, at which point her elevation was subject to the consent of a majority of the dioceses in the United States.

A few voices were raised in opposition because of Glasspool's lesbianism, but Bruno made a clear statement in her support: "If by chance people are going to withhold consents because of Mary's sexuality, it would be a violation of the canons of this church. . . . At our last General Convention, we said that we are nondiscriminatory."

Some conservative church leaders abroad decried the choice of Glasspool, but Bruno again urged American Episcopalians to adhere to the high standards that they had set for themselves. "To not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads," he declared.

Nevertheless, the matter of the potential schism threatened by some was important to Glasspool, who, soon after the election in Los Angeles, told Ruth Gledhill of The Times of London, "We want to be part of the Anglican Communion, but we are no longer willing to close the door to a significant number of people who look to the Episcopal Church for leadership," further noting that "there are many people who have been freed from the prison they have been put in" because of the church's move toward inclusivity.

She also questioned the interpretation of the few Bible verses regularly cited by those who would condemn homosexuality, and she stressed the importance of reading the Bible in its totality, stating, "The overriding message is that love is the good news."

Along with Diane Jardin Bruce, Glasspool was consecrated as bishop on May 15, 2010. The ceremony was briefly halted when a man and a young boy began shouting remarks, but the congregation rallied in support of Glasspool and, by extension, of other glbtq members of the church.

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