The Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool and the Rev. John L. Kirkley

The Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool and the Rev. John L. Kirkley (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES -- Episcopal Church leaders in Los Angeles have nominated two openly gay and lesbian priests for assistant bishop, despite pleas against the decision.

The nominations of the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco and the Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool of Maryland come amid a long-standing request from world Anglican leaders for a moratorium on consecrating openly gay bishops.

Both priests are in same-sex relationships and will be among six candidates on the ballot when lay people and clergy vote in December.

Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno said in a statement Sunday that he was "pleased by the wide diversity" of the nominees. Separately, the Diocese of Minnesota on Saturday announced that a lesbian was among its three candidates for bishop. That election is set for October 31.

The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the United States.

The nominations were announced just over two weeks after the Episcopal General Convention voted to effectively drop a pledge that it would act with "restraint" when considering any more openly gay candidates for bishop.

The Diocese of Los Angeles, which represents 70,000 Episcopalians in six counties, is widely regarded as one of the most liberal in the U.S. church of 2.1 million members.

Episcopalians caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Anglican leaders responded by asking the U.S. denomination for a temporary ban on consecrating any more gay bishops while they tried to reach a compromise that could keep the 77 million-member Anglican Communion unified.

No other bishop living openly with a same-sex partner has been consecrated since then.

Each Episcopal diocese elects local bishops. Church leaders must then signal their approval before the winner can be consecrated.

The other nominees include: the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce of St. Clement's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente; the Rev. Zelda M. Kennedy of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena; the Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez of St. George's Episcopal Church in Hawthorne; and the Rev. Silvestre E. Romero of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in San Jose.