Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55, of Baltimore was elected as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55, of Baltimore was elected as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. (December 5, 2009)

LOS ANGELES-- The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected its first openly gay bishop, the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship.

Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55, of Baltimore, was elected by clergy and lay leaders of the church as they met in Riverside Saturday for their annual convention.

Glasspool, who has been in a committed relationship with another woman since 1988, is the first openly gay clergy to be elected bishop since the ordination of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.

The Rev. Mary Glasspool needs approval from a majority of national church leaders before she can be consecrated as assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.

On Sunday, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion issued a rebuke against the Episcopalian leaders responsible for electing Glasspool.

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole," Williams said in the statement.

Church leaders say Glasspool's election underscored a continued Episcopal commitment to accepting same-sex relationships despite enormous pressure from other Anglicans to change their stand.

For a period, the Episcopal Church discouraged the elevation of gay and lesbian priests as bishops in hopes of maintaining tied with the 70-million-member Anglican Communion.

However, the move failed to stop growing disenchantment by conservatives who strongly disagreed with the ordination of gays and lesbians.

Episcopal conservatives who disagreed with Robinson's consecration broke away, forming the rival Anglican Church in North America.

In July, the Episcopal Church did an about face and voted to re-open the upper echelons of the church to gays and lesbians at its national convention in Anaheim.

Before Glasspool's election came Friday's selection of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53. The two became the first women elected as bishops of the diocese in its 114-year history.

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