Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The splitting point

The anti-homosexual agenda started in the 1998 Lambeth Conference now bears its full bitter fruit.

We see that the Archbishop of Canterbury is unable to bear witness against pure evil - the proposed anti-homosexuality bill which includes the death penalty for some 'offences' and imposes threat of imprisonment on any who fail to 'inform' on a homosexual - do we not recognise Stalinism made manifest?

Very little evidence of Lambeth 1.10 Anglicans having any ability to recognise what's happening and speak out.

Oh it's very sensitive. It's complicated. It's cultural.

I imagine there were people who said the same about slavery, apartheid, other forms of absolutism.

I'm not in favour of 'x' but if I speak out it might be counter productive. I'm changing things quietly from the inside - yeah right. How very comfortable, how very Anglican, how very hypocrtical.

Well we can all relax now because the game is well and truly up and we can see what there - what's really always been there. And has been there from the beginning.

Either the Anglican church (C of E and its colonial derivatives in whatever formation they find themselves) believe in human rights and human rights advocacy or they don't. And they either believe in the humanity and personhood of LGBT people or they don't.

Well now we know they don't. Or at least not sufficiently enough to stop a lynching.

It comes into clear relief as the Archbishop of Canterbury has made a vaguely threatening statement about the Diocese of Los Angeles appointing a highly qualified bishop who is a lesbian.

It's in sharp relief with his refusal to make any pronouncement with regard to Uganda even though there is well established Anglican teaching on human rights. Oh but they didn't really mean that bit (I'm sure they felt warm and fuzzy when they passed such resolutions and felt a tinge of smug superiority), least not when LGBT people are in the firing line of the religious right empowered - that is to say with the ability to make their nightmare fantasies part of the law of a country.

So I think it's pretty clear what anti-gay Anglicanism really stands for and I am at least thankful for that. It is for the rest of us to speak out, if we can find it in ourselves to do so.

And it is therefore imperative that the election of Cannon Mary Glasspool be given the necessary consents for her consecration to proceed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Civil partnerships in Church?

News on PinkNews that Stonewall and LGCM are asking for the Government to allow churches to carry out Civil Partnerships.

Not sure what I think about this as Civil Partnership is 'civil' and not religious but on the other hand there is the freedom of religion argument and churches are not allowed to honour their faith in being able to join together same sex couples, though of course nothing stops them from offering a blessing ceremony or prayers for the couple after the ceremony.

I think it is more important to allow same sex couples to marry whether in church or indeed a civil marriage.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Government backs down on 'free speech' amendment

The government has now backed down on the attempt to remove the so called free speech amendment inserted into the legislation in a previous session.

I am sorry to say that, though I oppose the amendment, I think it was a mistake to try to reverse it as the Government did not have the votes in the House of Lords and it was never likely to win on the issue.

The 'free speech' amendment is not needed and is unhelpful. On the other hand there have been instances where people's misguided and no doubt intolerant speech has been investigated by the police, thus giving ammunition for the Christian right in Parliament (admittedly from a mere handful of unrepresentative instances).

And of course the Christian Right in the UK has not been in a rush to defend freedom of speech when under attack in Uganda, just to give one example so their attachment to the principle of freedom of expression is more synthetic and tactical than real.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Graduate entry nursing

This is a recent government announcement also announced by the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) at the same time.

Press reaction has not been good.

The Royal College of Nursing has been pushing this agenda for some time, while UNISON has been much more cautious stressing difficulties in recruiting from diverse backgrounds and these concerns remain an issue.

But I think the time has now come to make this move. I think society has moved on and a degree is much more common than in the past where it was the preserve of a small elite. And I think the demands of nursing are much greater in terms of research, evidence as well as tasks such as organisation, management and critical autonomous thinking skills that tomorrow's nurses will need to be educated to a higher level.

I don't think that it's right to have two streams of entry (diploma and degree). There are two many inconsistencies between these two entry streams.

I don't agree with the false opposition between caring and developing a knowledge base - in today's nursing that's a thing of the past - all nurses are going to have to be able to work at the cutting edge.

The Diploma (which I did) takes 3 years to complete. All of the students I knew (including me) who had a previous degree found the Diploma harder than a Degree.

Of course, whenever entrance requirements are set, people who don't meet the standard are excluded but equally people are discouraged from entering the profession if the academic attainment doesn't match their abilities and so the profession loses out in that way as well.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Protesting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

This is the Bill in Uganda, promoted by right wing Christian groups based in the US who want to make the law on homosexuality even more extreme than it already is (homosexuality is already a criminal offence) and introduce the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", life imprisonment for other offences, an offence of "attempted homosexuality", including 'touching' as a homosexual act and introducing not so much an 'informers charter' but a virtually mandated constant state of with hunt and hysteria where you are at risk if you don't inform of criminal offences.

The original law against homosexuality was introduced under British colonial rule - as indeed wherever the British Empire existed, Justinian's ancient homophobia persists.

But there's another story. That of the true face of Christian homophobia. The same people who make easy use of Jesus' message of love and are happy to enter a holy unity to enact such a shameful peice of legislation.

Well now we know what lies behind the mask of this kind of religion. We see it exposed to the bright day light what kind of religion this is. No no more doubt, no more pretence.

This is a brutal throwing away of all pretence of civil and human rights which Christians have at some times dallied with when it suits them and then thrown away when the lure of homophobia or some other vindictive whim is greater than any principle of a commitment to human rights.

And the Anglican Communion? Well. Where are the big, calming words now?

So far as I can see they are now completely absent. Principles for some people are very cheap but they purloin the name of Christ to hide their own lack of moral purpose for whom the spoliation of other's (and indeed of the Other - the Same Old Story) humanity.

The one advantage is that we now no the big words mean nothing, nothing at all and we're back to what some religionists do best.

And by the way I do here hold the Church in the West to a higher standard of accountability that so far seems completely lacking. Their account is now well and truly in and is not to be gainsaid.

Disappointment in Maine

Disappointment because it was a battle we might have won and came close to winning but didn't.

But at least we tried and came close.

I consider that the vote of 47% was a good floor on which to build. In life, in this kind of campaign, you need to start somewhere.

It will take a few years to come back at this in Maine, but I am convinced we will come back in both Maine and California.

There was also a success, albeit slim, in Washington State.

By degrees we will get to where we need to be. Little by little, step by step, we'll get there.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Not tonight

Seems like tonight isn't the night for marriage equality by referendum in Maine. Results are being predicted at 52-48%.

Again this is incredibly close and actually a great achievement although winning would have been a better one.

We can still come back in Maine as in California

Voting over

That exciting time when polls close and there's no more you can do win or lose.
I am watching the live feed of the Maine election night party after the vote for or against the proposal to reject the law on same sex marriage.

The party looks good! But no results yet so probably best to get the partying in now!

First results here (initial returns not good at 3% count).

Whatever the result I think we can celebrate as even if lost it will be close and shows we've come an awful long way even if we aren't there yet.

5% count - we're up and I might not get to sleep now
17% count - No is at 51.3% - I must say I fear that that lead isn't enough as rural votes usually come in later due to counting and geography - of course I don't know what districts haven't reported yet.
Different percentages given. Very. very close. We are down on some tallies. This may go down to the wire....... and absentee ballots

Following this also

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Church of Sweden endorses same sex marriage

After already performing same sex blessings and supporting the country's recent gender neutral marriage law Sweden's national Church (Lutheran) adopted a decision to permit same sex marriages in its churches.

This is a positive and natural progression for that Church which has also elected a partnered Lesbian as Bishop of Stockholm and comes after pressure from the Church of England not to proceed in this way.

The Church of England is in communion with the Church of Sweden as part of the Porvoo agreement.

The vote was 176 in favour, 62 against and 11 abstentions.

Has Rowan Williams made mistakes?

I'm not - as said in an earlier post - sure what will become of the opening of Rome to Anglicans. I think for some fully formed Anglican entities they will very speedily be absorbed as they may already wish to be.

For the rest of us we may see realities stretch and evolve over decades of slow accretion to Rome, parish by parish as negotiations over assets proceed and the pathway gets 'opened up' as it were.

Which leads to two sets of interventions Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, may come to regret.

Number one is his expression of support for dissenting dioceses and parishes within the US Episcopal Church to a) secede and b) take their property with them. This is already being used to put pressure on for the churches moving to Rome to take their assets with them. The boot is now well and truly on the other foot and we can fully enter into TEC's pain.

Number two is Rowan Williams' articulation of a Catholic decision making. The idea that a Province should indefinitely not move forward or even articulate their views (of course the two are in reality interlinked - if TEC espouses a pro LGBT position it cannot indefinitely fail to move on such convictions as this would be unjust, ludicrous and illogical).

Of course Roman Catholics already act under this and it their ecclesiastical modus operandi - never move until we all move. Rowan Williams has articulated Roman Catholicism (so far as I can see) and articulated that the Anglican Communion mimic it in so far as it is able. And many Anglicans may be so convinced by this articulation of Catholic Universalism that they go the whole hog and move over to Rome - did the Reformers wait till their Reform was adopted by the entire Western Church? Self evidently not, no matter how good their ideas may have been they were not endorsed by the Church Catholic, either of the time or since.

From what I can see the Church of England is becoming progressively narrower in its internal life and I can see that a narrow church will lead increasing numbers to see little disadvantage to joining with Rome. For England, a progressive ecclesiastical reality appears to have been taken away from us whatever option we take.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rome annexes a slither of Anglicanism

The latest high profile announcement from Rome has led to some possibly exaggerated response on the Internet.

There are doubtless some churches constituted on the fringe of Anglicanism that will move seemlessly across to Rome and to that extent I rejoice. If a group of the faithful belong with Rome I rejoice that the path is being cleared.

The big barrier is, of course, property issues. That will determine the extent to which it's a takeover as opposed to a gracious opening.

I am glad of the opening and I gather that 22nd February will be a kind of D Day as we get an announcement as to what Forward in Faith will do.

While awaiting this prayerful decision I would just say that I agree with many Internet commentators, that from the point of view of Liturgy I see no advantage in keeping Anglican liturgy - I'd be perfectly relaxed with Roman rites, so that's no big deal.

Finally this link from James Alison that proves absorption into Rome (and, joking aside, most Catholics would like to be a part of the Western - i.e. Roman - Catholic Church) won't make the homosexuals all disappear or make the questions go away.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Steven Gately's funeral

I thought it was a beautiful service and I was moved especially by the eulogy from Boyzone and in particular the emotional sentiments from Ronan Keating that he struggled so hard to get out.

I know pop stars live very much in the public gaze and this often gets overdone but I think in this instance the balance was right and there was a lot of bravery to allow others into share some of the grieving.

I found it very moving that Stephen Gately's relationship with Andrew Cowles was given alot of prominence in the service, which I think is a comfort.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sadness of Stephen Gately

I was very shocked and saddened by the untimely death of Stephen Gately.

I have never met him, seen him perform, bought any records or even wanted to see him perform. I'm not too keen on Boyzone but the music is nice and easily listenable too. If he was appearing in my local town I wouldn't have gone to see him.

Again he wasn't in any way the musical genius that Michael Jackson was, though he was a bit more normal.

Yet I was upset and still am. In part the loss of anyone in their prime out of the blue just like that there's a real sense of pointless loss.

And in some ways his contribution to entertainment was a big one, whilst also remembering his coming out in 1999.

So never having been a fan I always liked Gately and wished him well in life and think the world was a better place for him having been in it.

That may be the best thing that can be said about a human being.

On the other hand some of the coverage has been atrocious. Like coverage suggesting he had been drinking before dying, smoked cannabis or some such thing. So what? He was a young man on holiday and was at liberty to do what many people do. There's no sense of decency to allow grief these days.

And then there's the senseless ravings of Jan Moir in the Daily Mail. Of course she denies she is being homophobic. Of course she does. Like most homophobes do.

I think that there is a lot of homophobia around the need to trash someone before they've even been laid in the soil.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
.... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Recent stuff from Churches

Quite a lot of recent development worthy not note.

Firstly a while back (month of July) the American Episcopal Church (TEC-The Episcopal Church) held its 3 yearly General Convention. This gathering passed a number of pro LGBT resolutions appearing (at least) to overturn the moratorium on appointing gay bishops and starting the process of collecting materials used for same sex partnerships.

This generated a certain frisson in some parts which has tended to overshadow the main event somewhat. Notably Bishop of Durham Tom Wright's paper on important, objectionable and intellectually unsustainable comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

More recently the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) voted a number of pro gay resolutions at its 2 yearly Churchwide Assembly. This included provision for clergy in same sex relationships and provision for blessing of same sex relationships whilst making provision for people opposed to the move.

This is decidedly a "big deal" for a number of reasons. ELCA is a fairly big denomination in the US and is in communion with TEC (while the Anglican Churches in the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are in Communion with churches such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden).

It's in this context that the Modern Church People's Union (MCU) published a paper savaging the contributions of Rowan Williams and Tom Wright. I intend to have my own say on Rowan William's interesting musings because I think there's more to this than meets the eye.

In any case ELCA shows that TEC and the Canadian Anglicans are not alone in their theological developments as regards issues of sexual orientation. Rather pointless now to refer to a universally held traditional consensus on sexuality given it's not universal and is no longer a consensus, merely customary and majoritarian (and not even in all Provinces).

Friday, June 05, 2009


The European and local elections have proved as brutal and dangerous for the government as expected and the results aren't even in yet.

It is clear that Brown's former cabinet was collapsing about his ears so it's just as well he's having a reshuffle.

Why don't Brown's ministers have loyalty toward him? Yet again a failure of the political arts that stand between ..... well between what we have now and the successful maintenance of power that our system relies on.

We will see if Brown manages to produce a cabinet over the next few days and he may buy himself some respite.

But as I blogged earlier the whole point is missing. Brown isn't holding it together because there is no forward momentum for what are utterly extraordinary times.

In some ways there's nothing as weak as a dying government but in others there's nothing as potentially powerful, if it can but raise its vistas. No evidence of that yet but maybe this latest crisis will lead to a change of heart.

We'll see.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Still time to cast your vote in the European elections.

Polls only close at 10pm. Your vote can help to keep out the BNP whichever party you vote for.

Let's use our votes to keep out the fascists

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why is Brown staying?

We know that he is (or at least intends to) but we don't quite know why.

The key to staying is to want to do something with the 12 months that are left. At the moment I have no sense of Brown having an ambition that is the measure of the situation. He tends to view minor tinkering as being crucial and vital reform.

Time to look to the bigger frame of history and actually do something brave with the next 12 months.

I am afraid that this does include a Bill of Rights, reform of the Lords and PR. Now or never.

New Hampshire makes 6

New Hampshire now becomes the US 6th state to enact same sex marriage, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa (by Court action) and more recently Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire (through the legislature).

The law in Maine is however subject to popular review in a referendum if enough signatures can be found to oppose the provision.

The law passed its final hurdle in the Assembly by 198 to 176.

Vote anti-BNP

Tomorrow is election day for all of the UK in the elections to the European Parliament.

It is crucial to prevent the BNP from taking a seat which will give them access to funding and a prominence they don't deserve.

You can stop the BNP by voting for any other party this is because the election is by PR, making it easier for them to take a seat but also easier for us to stop if enough people vote for other parties.

So a) please make sure you vote and b) tell your friends and family to do the same

Friday, May 29, 2009

Will the Anti-Christ be a Homosexual?

Just too good an article which I post a link to for the sheer enjoyment one can gain from reading the outgushings of an unbalanced mind - all the way from Sarah Palin country.

Article here referenced by (Andrew Sullivan) and too good not to post. Just read a smattering of the comments to heighten the enjoyment.......

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is England in communion with Sweden?

Sweden's Lutheran national Church has elected a new bishop in Stockholme, Eva Brunne by 413 votes to 365 and who is in a Civil Partnership with another woman and a long standing priest in the church.

Sweden's church has also approved the blessing of civil partnerships and supported Sweden's recent introduction of same sex marriage. For the time being they do not allow marriage ceremonies for same sex couples but that may itself follow in due course.

The question is rhetorical as in fact England and other European provinces of the Anglican Communion are part of the Porvoo Declaration which brought in full communion between European Anglican and Lutheran churches.

Remains to be seen whether hardliners in the Church of England now insist on pulling out of it.....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Can't believe they got rid of Howard....

I thought it was a travesty. I shall never forget his endeavours to promote Margate as a gay tourism venue and indeed I am planning to holiday there this year.

BBC poetry season

I am just bowled away by BBC's poetry season where there's nearly a poem every night. John Donne, Milton's Paradise Lost, Auden, Arnold and tomorrow Beowulf, a poem I recently discovered for myself and find both enjoyable and difficult (especially in translation as we have to read it - Old English is nothing like English as we know it as this clip shows my views on translations of Beowulf maybe for another day).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Damage limitation in California

News just in that prop 8 banning same sex marriage has been upheld by the California's Supreme Court - the ruling can be found here.

The ruling is as expected from judges' comments in oral argument and therefore unsurprising to that extent.

The key point of interest to me is that on page 92 of the ruling they uphold explicitly that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is held to be 'suspect' - similarly to discrimination on grounds of gender or race and that prop 8 is accepted only on the basis it relates solely to nomenclature (i.e. the title of marriage) and is a 'narrowly drawn exception'.

This is therefore a good ruling (in the circumstances - we'd rather not be here at all) and we can look forward to prop 8 itself being reversed at some future point by the voters of California a few years down the line.

Reaction from Andrew Sullivan welcoming the ruling (referring to it as being the 'right call') here - also with a link to the ruling.

AJ supports AV (plus)

Article by Alan Johnson in the Times a few days ago supporting a referendum on General Election Day over whether we introduce a form of top up of seats in order to produce a form of proportionality as well as maintaining the constituency link.

I think this is a once in a generation chance to put electoral reform before voters in a referendum. Doing so on the day of the next general election has the added advantage of not messing up the next period of government where such changes tend to be conveniently forgotten.

The point is this - why not give people the choice of systems - if first past the post wins in a referendum then it will have been backed by the people and will have renewed legitimacy. When people criticise its sometimes bizarre outcomes then we can reference it to a decision taken by the voters.

Bizarre outcomes under our current system include losing the election in votes but winning the most seats; coming second in votes but being a distant 3rd in seats; having a minority of the vote but a potentially huge majority in Parliament.

My personal view is I would support AVplus (the system devised by Roy Jenkins whereby you vote for constituency MP's by preference vote - i.e. by 'alternative vote' (AV - also known as instant run-off and used successfully in Australia) - and a further vote for top up candidates on a PR 'top up' basis).

But in any case we should at least let the people decide.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good news frrom the Church of Scotland

Firstly, contrary to the release from the Associated Press the Church of Scotland, though the national Church, is not part of the Anglican Communion but that's another and quite long story.

Nonetheless a historic decision of the General Assembly to allow an openly gay minister to be installed by a majority of 326 to 267.

There is now to be a Commission to look into the matter and report back in 2011 and no-one's allowed to talk about it until then (on either side of the debate) - how that works out remains to be seen.

They seem - at least in their intentions - to realise that all the media driven posturing of the Anglican Communion is not the way to go to get a genuine reflective process of deliberation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The future of our politics

I was glad to see the Speaker reflected on things and decided to step aside so quicly but this can only be first step in reconnecting Parliament to the people.

I think politicians can some of the changes needed but ultimately the challenge is bigger - to move away from a chamber steeped in the charm and make believe of 19th century flummery that people can't connect with or take seriously towards a more business like, modern chamber.

The Guardian has a good collection of pieces on some of the changes needed, here. Notably one of the questions asked is whether our Parliament has too many members - here are some international comparisons:

United Kingdom

House of Commons 646
House of Lords 738


Assemblee Nationale 577
Senat 346


Bundestag 598
Bundesrat 69


Chamber of Deputies 630
Senate 315


Congress of Deputies 350
Senate 264


House of Representatives 435
Senate 100

So I think a case can be made for a much smaller upper chamber and a somewhat reduced House of Commons.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh dear

I watched the Speaker live in on TV and the discussions that followed. It was not a pretty sight. Whilst the Speaker didn't fill in MP's claims and normally is not challenged, these are not normal times and it seems the Speaker has been active in gumming up the works - not his fault alone but his position is clearly untenable.

I think if he had reflected on his own role and stated he would stand down at the next election he would have shut the whole thing down. As it is the scenes from the Commons were surreal and painful.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The current crisis

If a blog isn't a good place to make a statement of the bleedin, albeit painfully obvious I don't know what is.

Suffice to say that the situation was dire before the expenses row. We are clearly in a legitimation crisis of profound proportions.

One could apportion blame - the inability of party leaders to get together and sort something out, collective denial, failings of the Speaker ......

The upshot is things are very bad for the country and our society - a profound breakdown of trust.

I think some of the rage over some of the claims is a little excessive and the degree of rage is doubtless a little overdone in some cases but instances of flipping and claiming for mortgages you're no longer paying are appalling and if I heart the phrase "unforgivable accounting error" again ......

My only thought is that the mainstream political parties are not and never will be perfect but they're our only chance of doing democratic politics without disenchantment and the extremes. They need therefore some time before the election to work out which candidates can no longer be put before the people in a General Election and reselect. I also think a new Speaker is required to oversee profound change.

Not taking these steps will have very severe consequences - the mess is simply too deep and affects too many MP's.

More developments in US states

Broadly encouraging developments - especially in New England.

Marriage equality bills have been endorsed by the legislatures of 3 states (Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire). In Vermont the Governor refused to sign the bill but the bill's supporters were able to muster a required 2/3 majority to override a veto; the bill passed in Maine but may be subject to a voter referendum and most recently the Governor of New Hampshire said he would sign a bill if they added further language for the protection of religious minorities.

Meanwhile in New York the lower house has approved such a bill but it is not clear if it can pass the Senate and the District of Columbia has passed a bill recognising same sex marriages (but not allowing them to be carried out) by 12 votes to 1 (subject to Congress not reversing it).

Friday, April 03, 2009

Iowa tempts me back to blogging

Just had to blog about latest developments from Iowa's Supreme Court ruling released today.

Iowa is not the first Supreme Court in the US to endorse same sex marriage (following Hawaii - overturned by a constitutional amendment- Massachusetts and Connecticut). It is though the first to be a unanimous ruling as well as being outside of the comfort zones of New England and trendy California.

It's also a good read if you like that sort of thing. I find it particularly well written, relating to previous Supreme Court rulings on issues like slavery, segregation and women's equality where Iowa was way in advance of the US Supreme Court. The language of the ruling contains subtle digs at other jurisdictions which have denied marriage equality (New York, Washington) or might be about to (California).

Its logic is faultless and is a delight to read and I'm certain will have a huge impact in years to come. In particular it reflects on the historic aspects of discrimination faced by "gay and lesbian people".

At the same time as all this marriage equality measures are progressing actively in New Hampshire and Vermont (where the Senate carried a bill by 26 - 4, the House by 95 - 52 - though not enough as yet to counteract a planned veto by the state governor).

And from Europe, news that the Swedish Parliament has enacted same sex marriage legislation by 261 votes to 22.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What a Day, What a Week

I was so completely overwhelmed by Barack Obama's inauguration event I couldn't blog about it. I still struggle to find words to express what I'm (still) feeling. The sight of the crowds, the excitement, a Democrat in the White House, an African American as President of the US....

The inauguration itself had its moments. Rick Warren was as uneventful as predicted and quite emollient in tone. The benediction given by Rev Lowery was uplifting and simply wonderful.

'Praise Song for the Day' was the inaugural poem. Loved it but the delivery was a little odd and am not sure it was ideal for a crowd of 2 million in the freezing cold, but a great and subtle poem that didn't get unanimous praise.

The 'gay inclusion' - the Lesbian couple on the train heading for Washington alongside Obama and Biden, the band marching in the procession and the choice of Gene Robinson to kick off the inauguration week at the Lincoln memorial and his inclusion at other inaugural events.

The first week - steps toward the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the repudiation (thank God) of the practice of torture by the US. Openness to the Arab and Muslim world and a new doctrine of respect toward other countries and the constitutional and human rights order.

All I can say is "Praise Song for the Day".

Reality will of course be a little more complicated.....

Friday, January 02, 2009

Some more thoughts on Warren

This is the one where Obama has invited an evangelical pastor to do the 'invocation' at the inauguration ceremony.

I think in the long run that getting rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell, federal discrimination legislation and support for moves in the UN to support the ending of the criminalisation of same sex relationships (to give just a few examples) are what we are wanting from Obama over the next 4 years and whether or not he delivers on these is how I will judge him (from an LGBT perspective).

But just what is Warren's position? While opposing same sex marriage he has used language suggesting that it's the word 'marriage' that irks him. He therefore might be amenable to all sorts of legislative action (at a federal level for instance) on same sex partnership rights, possibly even for Civil Unions. And in many states that's potentially an enormous advance - maybe not all of the journey - but a huge step forwards nonetheless. Or maybe it's all a smoke screen - let's put the spotlight on him and ask him what he does support and go for that at an absolute minimum.

It poses a question of how we should relate to religious folk who don't sign off on all our agenda in all its integrity but might be willing to sign up for some of what we want and maybe Warren is an example of that.

I think sometimes we use a kind of litmus test and then having failed it we kind of discard people instead of working out where we need there support and holding them accountable for delivering it.

Getting prominent evangelicals who aren't known for being gay friendly to state they are against criminalising same sex relationships to advocate the position they allegedly espouse can be a big difference in countries where there is a lot of anti-gay discourse (one thinks of Jamaica and Nigeria).

It may be that it's all dishonest posturing and in many cases I am sure it is and that the anti-gay leaders in the UK and US who pretend to be so moderate actually only adopt this position for show to make their prejudices seem more palatable.

But we let them off and give them a free pass. We don't put them to the test. We don't hold them accountable. We effectively let them wriggle away from their own contradictions while in some cases just don't take advantage of those who might be willing to support us in some of our struggles.