Orlando – A Gay Christian’s response

pulese“I’ve been waiting all week for this. A Saturday night out with the boys. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Always a chance of that in Pulse”

Replace ‘Pulse’ in the above with any gay club or bar in any city around the world and that is probably the thoughts of some those there. It’s normally similar to mine on Friday or Saturday night out in Cork.

But for those attending Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night, it all ended so differently, so tragically. when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people, and injured countless others. Members of the LGBT*Q Community, just like me.

It’s hard to figure out mu feelings on this. I’m hurt, angry, heartbroken, shocked, vulnerable and sad. I’m angry that this could happen. That someone could target people just because of who they are, who they love, how they were created.

But we cannot respond in kind. We cannot blame a particular religion, or all religions, for one man’s actions. We must be better than this. If we react to hate with hate, then hate wins. Martin Luther King speaking in 1963 said

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

lgbt half mastWe must now reach out the hand of comfort to out LGBT*Q Brothers and sisters in Florida who are hurt, grief-stricken, and scared. We must reach out to those who mourn the loss of family friends and friends. We must also look out for those in the world-wide LGBT*Q Community for whom the fear of attacks, rape and murder are a daily fear.

But on the other hand we must also reach out the hand of understanding to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters here and the US as they face the inevitable backlash due to one man’s actions.

We in the LGBT*Q Community must continue to stand tall, roar loudly to be treated equally, demand our place in the Public Square, and not bow our heads in shame because of who we are pr who we love. We must do this, not just for ourselves, but those worse off. The members of the LGBT*Q Community who still live in countries where it is illegal to be gay, for LGBT*Q Muslims, and for LGBT*Q Refugees.

Those of us in religions must continue to work hard to ensure an affirming welcome for all in our churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. This work isn’t easy, nor should it be. But we cannot put limits on God’s love that is open to all.

Vigils are being held in Ireland this week in remembrance for those who died. Tonight In Dublin Belong To, GLEN – GAY AND LESBIAN EQUALITY NETWORK and Transgender Equality Network Ireland are in Bernardo’s Square (beside City Hall on Dame Street, Dublin 2) at 6.30pm Monday and also in Tralee tonight at 9pm in the Square.

In Galway on Wednesday in Eyre Square organised by Amach and also in Cork on Wednesday.

Further Reading:

Thoughts on Orlando – UCC Express Editorial

Queer Muslims exist – and we are in mourning too – The Guardian

US Midterm Predictions

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As promised yesterday, here are some predictions for the US Midterms.

Senate

In the senate the Republicans need to win 10 seats to gain control of senate. I think they will pick up 12 seats including: Nevada, Florida and Illinois. I think Fiorina will just lose out to Boxer in California, but I am hoping to be wrong on that one!

House

In the House I think the Republicans will end up with between 225 and 235 seats. This could be conservative, but the house is a lot harder to predict.

Govenor

In the various races for the Statehouses, California returning to Democratic control is a foregone conclusion. I think Illinois and Ohio will go Republican. I think Lincoln Chafe (ind) will win in Rhode Island.

Have you any predictions to share?

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US Midterm Elections

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So Tuesday is the first electoral test faced by President Obama, since his election in 2008. That year also saw much celebration by the Democrats as they won many seats in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as a number of state houses. This year that could change. The Republicans look set to win a number of Senate and House seats, this could be because of or despite of the Tea Party.

Senate

There are a number of very interesting Senate races this year. They are mainly in the west. Two that I will be watching closely will be Carly Fiorina’s bid to unseat Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer in California. Most of the polling have Boxer retaining her seat, but not by a very wide margin. Most give Ma’am Boxer a margin of between 3 and 8%, so this could be an interesting race.

The other race I will be watching closely will be Senate Majority Leader’s Harry Reid’s attempt to hold his seat against Republican Sharron Angle in Nevada. This is a loss that will be a great victory for the republicans, but if he hangs on, there wont be much for the Republicans to gloat about.

Of couse their are other races to watch. They include the race for Obama’s old seat in Illinois. It looks like that will be a very close one. Republican Mark Kirk looks set to win the seat and defeat the Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, as he has fallen behind in recent polling.

Other races that will be interesting are Florida, West Virgina and Alaska. It will be interesting to see how Christine O’Donnell does in Delaware. The big question here is, will Republicans get a majority? I think they will get a bare majority of 51 to 49.

House

The US House of Representatives is always interesting as the entire house is up for re-election. Here there is set to be a big change. The current state of play is the Democrats have 256 seats and the Republicans have 179. The Republicans need to gain 39 seats to gain control. Most forecast have them winning 40-60 seats so it is expected to see a good few seats change hands. And of course the results of this election will give us a better view of Democratic’s position across the country.

Some of the races to watch are Arkansas’s 1st District, Delaware’s At-Large District, Florida’s 2nd, 8th and 22nd Districts and Idaho’s 1st District.

Governors

39 state governorships are up for grabs also on Tuesday. A few of these are very interesting. In Rhode Island, independent Lincoln Chafee is leading the race to become senator. He was a former Republican senator but endorsed Obama in 2008 and this has led to an interesting race.

In Vermont, Republican Brian Dubie and Democrat Peter Shumlin are in a close battle for the Governorship. In current polling there is a 1% gap!

In Florida, Democrat and Chief Finance Officer of Florida, Alex Sink is locked in battle with Republican and Health Care Activist Rick Scott. In some polls there is no difference between them!

Other states that will be interesting to watch include Obama’s home state of Illinois, where the Republicans could gain. Other states I will be watching Ohio, Oregon and Minnesota.

So I will be getting up early on Wednesday morning (as I have work) to catch up with what has happened and see how it may pan out. Should I make predictions? Maybe tomorrow!

Have you got any tips before I make them?

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Dem Dark Horses: Michigan and Florida.

As most people with an interest in the current nomination procedure. Michigan and Florida were stripped of their Delegates by the DNC for breaking party rules. Now it seams there will be a re-vote in these states to allow the states to be seated at conevntion.

What will this mean for the race? Clinton won both states, but she was the only name on the ballot in Michigan, so the re-vote will have Obama’s name on it. This could also lengthen the primary season and cost the Democrats more money when they need all the money they can get to ensure a Democratic victory come November.

There is a number of stories floating around in the media and US Blogs about this.

According to Politco, there are 5 options for the DNC . They are:

1. The Heck With Them Option: Michigan and Florida broke the rules and should suffer. If they are not made to pay for moving up their contests, 2012 will be even more chaotic than 2008. Strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates, and let the chips fall where they may.

2. The Kumbaya Option: Can’t we all just get along? Let’s seat Michigan and Florida the way the voters voted, and if this helps Clinton, that’s the way the nomination crumbles. The major problem with this, however, is that neither primary was exactly normal. Clinton was the only person on the Michigan ballot, and all the candidates agreed not to campaign in Florida.

3. The Split the Baby Option: Give 50 percent of the delegates to Obama and 50 percent to Clinton. At least this way, the voters of Michigan and Florida will not be insulted and will not punish the Democratic nominee in November.

4. The Mulligan Option: Do it over. Hold new contests. Maybe a caucus in Michigan and a primary in Florida. (Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, has said he would support a do over in his state.) This option seems to be gaining in popularity within the party. The new contests could be held on the first Tuesday in June, along with Montana’s and South Dakota’s. Sure, this would cost millions, but nobody ever said democracy was cheap.

5. The Lone Ranger Option: Just wait for somebody to ride into town and save the day. Maybe Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will be able to negotiate a settlement between Obama and Clinton. Except that a source at the DNC told me Dean is in no hurry to intervene. “He wants to let the voters have their say,” the source said. “We need to take a step back. We still have 10 states [plus Guam and Puerto Rico] left to vote and 600 pledged delegates to be determined.”

(Full Story)

But what are the numbers involved? Florida lost 210 pledged delegates and 28 superdelegates, and Michigan lost 156 pledged delegates and 25 superdelegates. Thats more then then the half that are still to play for!

In a statement Howard Dean, head of the DNC, showed what is imported for the Democrats come November.

“As we head towards November, our nominee must have the united support of a strong Democratic Party that’s ready to fight and ready to beat John McCain. After seven years of Republican rule, I am confident that we will elect a Democratic president who will fight for America’s families in the White House. Now we must hear from the voters in twelve states and territories who have yet to make their voices heard.”

(Source: Marc Ambinde Blog)

This is the crux of it for the Dems, they need to sort it quickly, they need to avoid divisions, if they are to beat McCain in November.