Walter C. Righter dies; Episcopal bishop played role in gay rights in church "Walter C. Righter, an Episcopal bishop whose victory in a 1996 heresy trial played a key role in the push for gay rights in the church, died Sept. 11 at his home in Export, Pa. He was 87.
He died of heart and lung ailments, said his wife, the former Nancy Tolbert."
“I look around the Episcopal Church today where there are no impediments to the ordination of gay or lesbian members. . . . None of that would have happened without Bishop Righter’s leadership,” said the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., former president of Integrity USA, a group that promotes inclusiveness in the church.
In 1990, Bishop Righter ordained Barry Lee Stopfel, a non-celibate gay man, as a deacon. Ten bishops brought charges against Bishop Righter, alleging that he violated the doctrine of the church and his ordination vows by ordaining Stopfel.
When asked after the trial to speculate on the future of homosexuality in the church, Bishop Righter told the Times, “I think we’re making too much out of the bedroom.”