NASHUA, N.H. (AP) – Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson had about 120 people at Daniel Webster College laughing Tuesday night by describing gay rights as tooth paste that will not go back into the tube.

The first openly gay bishop in Christendom said homosexuality used to be discussed as an “issue” but times are different.

“There’s hardly a family that doesn’t know that one of them – someone’s daughter, sister, brother, father, mother, uncle , whatever – is gay. So all of a sudden when you talk about it, it isn’t an issue anymore because Uncle Henry’s face comes to mind,” he said.

“I think that’s why we can’t put this in the tube anymore,” he said. Even the death threats he said he has received will not turn the tide.

“We just decided not to let it run our lives,” he said of himself and his longtime partner, Mark Andrew.

Robinson spoke as part of the college’s lecture series and he took questions from the audience on his views on Iraq, gay marriage, biblical interpretation and abortion.

“I don’t believe we belong there,” he said of Iraq. “Mostly what I’m concerned about is the arrogance with which we went in and I think it undermines whatever we might have done while there,” he said.

When it comes to prohibition against gay marriage, “gay couples are in a terrible bind,” he said. “It’s an awful catch-22 churches put people in to say we can only have sex within marriage but there are some of you who can never get married,” he said.

Many of those who heard Robinson speak walked away smiling.

“I was very impressed, very moved. I can see why he was elected. They made a wise choice,” said Francesca Denton, who works at the college library.

“He gives you hope that there is a religion out there that’s striving for inclusion,” she said.

AP-ES-04-13-04 2154EDT

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