Aug 14

Do you know how much my stomach sinks when I hear talk of a referendum to change the law about marriage.  This isn’t about making it legal for me to marry, this is about the conservative government putting a big barrier into the constitution to prevent marriage equality.

That’s just mean.  Really mean.  To build discrimination into the laws of the land.

That’s what Howard did when he changed the laws in 2004.  He didn’t consult the people.

What about a plebiscite?  You’re kidding me right?  More and more people are saying let’s put it to a vote.  Thanks to everyone who has told me that they’d vote for it – but you do realise, I don’t want you to vote in any such plebiscite.  Why should my right as a gay man be determined by everyone else.

This has been a shocking week.  People rabbiting on about equality, marriage, men and women.  It’s distressing, nasty and completely unneeded.

Finally, Liberal Party folk – I don’t give a fuck if you had a respectful debate in your party room.

You have shown no respect to me, stop saying it.

 

Tagged with:
Aug 11

Sometime ago I was standing in the kitchen, getting ready to go out for my birthday dinner.  I was listening to the radio as the vote on changing the marriage act to include “between a man and a woman” was finishing up.

I felt devastated.

Sometime ago I watched the live vote on TV on a marriage equality bill and saw Prime Minister Gillard cross the floor and vote with the Liberal party to maintain the marriage act as is.

I felt devastated.

Sometime tonight I watched as the now Prime Minister said that the marriage act was not going to change and he hinted that he would hold a referendum to protect the current act.

I feel devastated.

It’s my birthday this week.

All I want is to be allowed to be married to the love of my life.  The man who I share my life with.

Instead I get rejection.

I’m devastated.

I need your help.

 

 

Tagged with:
Aug 05

There’s a new anti-marriage equality group in town, apparently the ACL isn’t up to the task of hating the homosexuals enough. Ya!

Doug Pollard at The Stirrer has some good back ground on Marriage Alliance who say that they’re an independent alliance, despite the fact that the key stakeholders are all catholic.

The Alliance has just four questions it would seem:

  • Should children have the right to know their biological history?
  • Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?
  • Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?
  • Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?

Let me get those for you:

  • Should children have the right to know their biological history?

Yes.  Of course.  Who is saying that they shouldn’t?

  • Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?

Do you mean to ask if we know what happens to kids raised by gay parents?  Yes we do. They turn out well-adjusted just like other kids.

  • Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?

Nobody is redefining your family.  As a social unit it will still be there a guess what, families will be just as diverse as they are now.

  • Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?

Well yes, I think so.  Do you have any real questions?

Until these questions and more are debated and answered, we are not ready to have same sex marriage in Australia.

ToothActually, these questions have been asked, and more, and answered.  We’re ready for marriage equality.  So close your website and go back to your normal business, whatever that is for catholics these days.  (Perhaps start a support group for abused children?)

p.s. your tooth logo probably needs a root canal. 

Tagged with:
Aug 04

Just last week in Jerusalem, at their annual pride march, a man described as an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbed 6 people.  He was heard to say that he was doing the work of god.

We balance this with the news this week from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) who admitted Keshet, a group for gay Jews into their association.  Showing us that despite religion, you can actually accept people for who they are.

MBThe JCCV decision comes at the end of a very long road of agitation and negotiation by my husband, Michael Barnett.  He has no direct involvement with Keshet, but he has been tirelessly working away in the background.

Several years ago he broke off communication with the JCCV, well, the other way around, they stopped communicating with him, he has been working hard to change opinions, to challenge the status quo and to break through.

The journey for Michael goes back to 1999 when the JCCV decided not to admit Aleph,  another support group for gay Jews, into their ranks.  In fact, not only were they against it there were a number of ultra-orthodox organisations that said some particularly nasty things.

I haven’t known Michael for that long.  In our time together I have watched him take on the JCCV leadership and tell them things that they just didn’t want to hear.  And this journey has not been easy.

I recall sitting at a meeting with Aleph and the JCCV and the response from the JCCV leadership was less than desirable and amounted to Michael being abused and yelled at.

The JCCV then established their own GLBTI Reference Group and froze Michael out.  Despite this he continued to do his work of trying to break down the barriers for young gay Jews, always with the aim of removing those barriers to help reduce the suicide rate for those growing up in the Melbourne Jewish community.

Michael may never be recognised for the job he has done.  You can’t take your finger and trace a map of the 1999 Aleph knock back to the Keshet acceptance.

Keshet becoming an associate of the JCCV is a lot of work by many people, the current JCCV leadership has steered the way and the Keshet team have been fully engaged.

Michael has also been putting in and talking with people along the way, doing what he does so well.  Making connections.

The road to today has been carved by Michael Barnett, others have come along behind him and been able to take advantage of his work.  That’s the way it works.

I and indeed our family have supported Michael in this journey, we’ve been the sounding board, his personal advice centre.  We’ve had the tough conversations, we’ve acknowledged when the good things happen.  We heard his pain, we saw it on a regular basis.  Above all we took this man and loved him.  Because he was right.

The important part here is that finally we have the orthodox part of the JCCV supporting the gay people, accepting them, becoming a better and more whole community.   The same people who opposed this move all those years ago.  This will have an effect on those young questioning people.  Maybe this acceptance will save lives.

My admiration for Michael is boundless.  In the face of adversity he has stayed the path.

I’ve told Michael that he should take pride in this result.  It is his work that delivered this result.

I’m proud of him, the work that he has done.

Tagged with:
Aug 04

I recently stood in the supermarket having a chat with a friendly guy from Telstra, recontracting my mobile phone service, which was nice.  Saved me $10 a month.

Telstra then sends me a bunch of emails and finally a feedback request:

HOW DID WE DO?

Dear Gregory,Thanks for recontracting your Mobile service with us.

You can track the steps we’ve completed here.

I appreciate you being a Telstra customer and I hope you’re enjoying your service.

We really care about your honest feedback, which helps us do things better, so it would be great if you can answer three quick questions about your experience with us.

Click here to access our short feedback survey or paste the following link into your browser

If you’re experiencing issues with your service, clicking the survey link above will give you options for help. Also, if you want to reply to this email, you can do this through the options in the survey.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If there’s anything else we can help you with, our contact us page has all the details you need.

Best regards,

Andy Ellis

Head of Customer Service and Contact Centres

I like to give feedback when asked.  So I did it based on the phrase:

“We really care about your honest feedback, which helps us do things better, so it would be great if you can answer three quick questions about your experience with us.”

1st question:  Have we finished the job we said we do?  Yes/No

2nd question:  On a scale of 1 to 10 how likely would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?

3rd Question: Why did you give us that ranking?

Answers: Yes, 2, You’re a telco why would I recommend you to anyone?

I clicked the next button and got “Thanks” and all was over.

So, where did I get to give my honest feedback about my experience?  How will my answers help you do things better?  The answer is that they won’t. All this will do is help you better hone your skills to get more customers.

Telstra don’t appear to be too interested in my feedback at all.  If asked I would have said that the salesman was pushy, didn’t check if now was a good time, rushed through his explanations.  I would have said it was great to hear from Telstra to help me reduce my phone bill, but seriously Andy Ellis, Head of Customer Service and Contract Centres, you don’t seem to be too interested in what I really think.

Instead of your survey being about market research, why don’t you make it about genuine feedback?  You know, actually give a care about what your customers have to say.

Tagged with:
May 27

Just putting this out there for you to think about.

The Australian Christian Lobby and other religious people are always telling us that allowing same-sex couples to get married will mean that they will want to have children.  They tell us that this is unnatural as it deprives the child of either a mother or father.  The argument is that it doesn’t matter about children who find themselves without one of their biological parents from desertion, accident or some other misadventure, from their recent media release:

“Every time a child loses their mother or their father, whether by family breakdown, death, desertion, it is a profound tragedy.”

But why doesn’t it matter?  Why don’t they agitate to fix what they must surely see as a huge social issue.

In June 2012 there were 641,000 single parent families with dependents in Australia1.  Of those families 84% where single mothers.

In the 2011 Census there where around 33,700 same-sex couples.  Of those couples, 6,300 children live with them2

toddlerpinkI would think that since the ACL is so worried about thinking about the children that they would be much more concerned with the amount of single parent families.  After all, it’s clear that they see a child’s right to be raised by their biological mother and father. Where is their campaign to either restore both parents or prevent them from having children in the first place?

This seems like a much bigger issue from their moral ‘christian values‘ and one that they seem happy to overlook.

Instead we find their focus on the children of gay couples, children that have two parents and live in really happy circumstances, children that are wanted, loved, nurtured and doing really well.

The only reason I can think of is that the ACL is determined to victimise gay people as evil.

Society’s focus should be on the children, and we should look after all of the kids, regardless of their family situations.  Families need our support, if they are struggling then lets help them.

Just so we’re clear, plenty of single parents raise really good kids.

Tagged with:
May 25

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about the ACL trying to force their opinion on the rest of the world.  Oh, wait it was.  I just can’t help myself when they release another ill-thought out media release.

MEDIA RELEASE

For release: 24 May 2015

The Australian people should have a say on same-sex marriage through a national plebiscite, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Why?  There was no plebiscite when the government amended the marriage act to exclude same-sex couples from getting married.  We don’t have plebiscites on any other issues.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said he respected Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s view that marriage was probably not an issue for a constitutional referendum.

“Probably not” – I don’t think it’s probable at all.  There is no constitutional change, unless you’re trying to insert something into it?

“However, changing the definition of marriage in law is a monumental and very divisive issue with big consequences.

rainbow flagHow?  Allowing same-sex couples to marry won’t fundamentally change anything, it will just allow adults to marry whomever they wish.  How is that divisive?  And what are the big consequences?  Has New Zealand disappeared up its own long white cloud?  Has Canada stopped exporting maple syrup?  Has the UK stopped ruling the waves? Has Ireland disappeared overnight?  No.   Let’s just say some whacky things and hope nobody notices what a monumental cock-up this media release is.

“The people should have a say through a plebiscite before it goes back to the Parliament,” Mr Shelton said.

It’s still not clear why you would advocate for such a thing Lyle.

“Those seeking to change the definition of marriage always seem confident of public support. Let them put it to the test by asking for the peoples’ endorsement.

And then what?  If we get 70% as the polls indicate what happens then?  If we get 40% what happens then?  Since when should the rights of people be dictated by others?

“A plebiscite would allow parliamentarians to then cast their votes in Parliament guided by the will of the Australian community.”

Strange as this may sound, our parliamentarians seem quite able to cast their votes now without a plebiscite, that’s how it works.  We elected one of our community to represent our views in the parliament so that we don’t have to keep telling them what to do every time a vote comes up. I suspect, more to the point, a plebiscite would allow the christian right to put their case.  Can you imagine the rhetoric?  It’d be about crazy things like “natural marriage” “think of the children” and something about gay people not being able to breed.

In designing the conduct of a plebiscite, Mr Shelton said two conditions should be laid out.

  1. Modest but equal public funding for the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ case.

  2. A prohibition on international donations.

Oh, so now he wants conditions least the big gay lobby should find big gay supporters to support their big gay weddings.

Plebiscites are non-binding but can help settle matters of great national importance, Mr Shelton said.

Hmmm… plebiscites help settle matters of great national importance do they?  Wow.  The power of the people!  Since Federation we’ve had 3.  The first two about 100 years ago were about military conscription and the last one in 1977 was about which song we should sing at football grand finals (and other times).  Yes, I can see why Lyle thinks that they are useful for settling matters of great national importance.

It’s actually time that we got this off the table and simply amended the marriage act to remove the discriminatory language placed in there in 2004.  To continue to treat part of our society as second class citizens is wrong and divisive.  Trying to suggest it needs everyone to have a say is just playing for time.

It’s really not a big deal.

Tagged with:
May 24

My eyes have been focussed on Ireland as they voted in a referendum to change their constitution to broaden the definition of marriage in that country.

“marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”

Just so we’re clear, it’s not gay marriage nor is it the right to marry a dog, several hundred other people or a bridge. It’s the right to contract in accordance with the law the right to marry another person.  You could be gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered or just plain and simply you.  All you need is another single person and you can get married.

vote yesThe people said yes.

There has been much celebrating in Ireland and around the world.  It’s historic as it’s the first country to vote on marriage equality.  Of course, there are those that are upset about the result, such as Lyle Shelton – head straight man at the Australian Christian Lobby – scared of anything that isn’t just like him.  He very quickly published a media release to tell everyone else just what we should be thinking!  He sums up his whole approach right there in the headline:

Irish marriage referendum a blow to the rights of children

He seems to ignore the 18 countries where it’s ok to get married and guess what, the kids are ok!  He’s not focussed on the Royal Commission on Institutional sex abuse where the rights of kids have been ignored and destroyed.  Nor has he focussed on the rape and abuse of asylum seekers.  No, no, he in his writings suggest that gay people are somehow causing harm to the rights of children.

The redefinition of marriage and family in Ireland this weekend is a wake-up call to Australians who value the rights of children and freedom of belief.

Yes, it’s a wake up call – the decision has been made by the people.  Not by a few lobbyists who head an outdated religious lobby group.   Of  course, family has not been redefined in Ireland.  Just who is allowed to get married, and even then, it’s not so much as a redefinition, but simply a small adjustment.  Opposite-sex couples are still able to marry.   As to the rights of children, last time I check my two were still ok, as are my nephews and nieces.  No impact at all.  Also, it’s Sunday today, no churches have been harmed so freedom of belief endures.

The Australian Christian Lobby is disappointed that the Irish movement to redefine marriage, funded by $16 million US dollars, has succeeded at a national referendum today.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said, “Over $16 million US dollars has been provided to organisations to deliver same-sex marriage over a period of 12 years in Ireland.”

Actually Lyle, that would be illegal.  Foreign entities may not fund or donate to Irish referendum campaigns. It is rather naughty of you to suggest it, especially since you seem to ignore the counter claims that the No vote has been funded by extreme right-wing American fundamentalist organisations.

Mr Shelton said despite the result in Ireland, Australia was different and he called on parliamentarians to carefully consider the consequences for children and to freedom of conscience.

“Australia should not pass a law which forces millions of Australians to pretend that a same-sex couple with children is the same thing as a mother and father with children.

Lyle is right – we are different.  Our marriage act can be changed by parliament.  No referendum is needed.  In fact, it was former Prime Minister Howard, ably assisted by the current PM Abbott that changed the marriage act to make it clear that in Australia marriage is between one man and one woman for life.  It’s ok, you can ignore the ‘for life’ bit if you like and get a divorce, but you can’t ignore the man and woman bit.

As to this rather silly notion that the law will force millions – millions I say – to ‘pretend’ that there’s something wrong with the kids of gay couples.  I mean really Lyle.  What are you going on about?  You do know that already there are plenty of couples who aren’t married raising children?  Some of those couples are married overseas but their relationship is not recognised here.  And some of them are same-sex parents.  And guess what – their kids are ok!  Perhaps you should go and meet with some of them to find out how well they’re doing.

“The redefining marriage movement in Ireland made a big effort to downplay the rights and interests of children, which ought to be at centre stage of all public policy.

The No vote played this game very well and made it front and centre of their campaign.  And guess what?  The rest of Ireland saw through it and told them how silly they are.

“Because marriage confers the right to form a family, it will be very difficult to resist further law changes allowing the exploitation of women through commercial surrogacy.

No, marriage does not confer that right.  We have a right to form a family and plenty of people do that without marriage.  Even those who get married may choose not to have children.   Surrogacy is an issue that is quite separate from marriage equality.  In fact, the attempt to wave a red flag about the exploitation of women while talking about marriage equality is a nice attempt at distraction.  The two aren’t connected.

“The only way the benefits of marriage equality can be provided to two men is to reform surrogacy laws so they have open access to donated women’s eggs and through the provision of ‘carrier’ wombs.

Uh huh.  Benefits of marriage equality?  What has this to do with two people getting married?  It would seem Lyle that you are suggesting that the reason people get married is to have children.  I don’t understand what makes you think this is a benefit of marriage as it can and does happen outside marriage.  Surrogacy again is a separate issue not connected with marriage equality.

“While some same-sex couples are already acquiring children through various means of assisted reproductive technology, this does not make severing the primal bond between a child and their mother or father right.

Acquiring?  Are you talking about a couple of women – you know, lesbians?  Nobody acquires children.  We have them.  You also turn a blind eye to those thousands of children already adopted by same-sex and opposite-sex parents.  This is the reality now and has been for a very long time.  Quite frankly Lyle, this is a furphy.

“Marriage equality abolishes in law and culture the idea that, wherever possible, children have a right to both their mother and father.

Perhaps you can point to which law and which culture that says a child has this right.  When you’ve found it then please embark upon a campaign to remove children from single parents, divorced parents and same-sex couples.  Of course, marriage equality does not abolish anything of the sort.

“If gender matters for company boards and jury selection, then how can we deny that it matters for parenting?”

Huh?

Mr Shelton said the freedom of Christian and Islamic schools teaching the truth about gender complementarity in marriage would likely come into question if marriage was redefined.

You forget about the Jewish faith.  And so it should come into question.    You seem to be of the misunderstanding that christian and islamic schools have some sort of truth that places them outside reality.  They don’t.  What you’re saying is that homosexuality is morally wrong according to your ‘truth’.  Time to get out and face the reality that there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being straight.  How long must the rest of us sit back and allow you to use your religion to deny reality?  The world isn’t flat anymore Lyle.

People providing services to the wedding industry, who because of conscience declined to participate in a same-sex wedding, would risk being punished under Australia’s anti-discrimination laws.

OK.  So we don’t yet have marriage equality in Australia – so this isn’t really an issue.  However, I would hope that if you are a baker, for example, and your website says that you make wedding cakes, then that’s what you do.  If a couple arrives and you refuse to make a cake because of your conscience, then I’d suggest you are probably in the wrong business and if you are breaking the law then you should be prepared for the consequences.  Are you really saying that religious people are outside the law?  We get to work with lots of people every day and we don’t get to discriminate based on our conscience.  It’s how we get along in life Lyle.  And my suggestion to you is that you take a good hard look at your opposition to gay people getting married.   The thing that is driving your protests is your christian belief.  Let me quote it for you straight from your bible:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So, if you want to talk about the right to exercise your religious conscience – is this what you mean?

 

 

Tagged with:
Mar 30

Every now and then I think of my mate – Geoff.  I think of his wife, Marie.  My heart breaks.

Tonight I’ve spent the evening out with Michael.  We’ve had a good time.

Before we left my 21 year old son, Tomas, wasn’t home.  That’s a bit odd.  Caitlin my 23 year old daughter didn’t know where he was.  I don’t worry.  At least, I think I’m not worrying.

That’s until I get home some 5 hours later to see his bedroom door is closed.  Caitlin’s bedroom door is also closed.  That means that no matter what has transpired today – both of them are home and in bed.  It’s only then that I realise that the closed doors offer me comfort and remind me that my children are safe.  It’s then that I realise that I worry.

To lose a child would be devastating.  Every time that thought cross my mind, I think of my mates, Geoff and Marie.  Because they lost their two children in a road accident 10 years ago.

Their pain is my nightmare – but I’ve not spent 10 years living it.  I’ve not spent 10 years seeing the open bedroom doors.

A flash of memories of Kate and Daryl is all I have. Quiet words said at the funeral.

My words will never describe the deep sense of loss.

I see it in myself, I can feel the despair.  It will pass for me because the bedroom doors are closed.

Mar 26

Here’s Lyle Shelton, head of the Australian Christian Lobby:

“Whether or not the Greens like it, the taking of human life in the womb is an issue that should be debated politically and not silenced.

“Our society’s inability to support women with unsupported pregnancies to the point where abortion is so widespread is a matter of serious public policy and people are right to express a view publicly by way of protest or prayer.”

Let me call bullshit on this.  Taking the life of a foetus in the uterus has been settled and is not a political debate on anyone’s radar other than some out of touch christians.  Women are supported in pregnancy.  There are plenty of organisations helping.  Sometimes women have abortions, for whatever reason.  There is nothing wrong with that.

lyleShelton is protesting that a Greens Senator has taken a stance against christians standing on the footpath praying.  He doesn’t see why that is a problem.  I do.  You can pray anywhere.  What makes him think that praying near an abortion clinic is going to make any difference to the way his god responds.  They could all sit at home and pray, but no, instead they gather quietly and peacefully, just like a bunch of hyenas, waiting for the right moment to pounce on their unsuspecting victim.  If you challenge them they smile and say that they are going about the lord’s work.  What they are really doing is providing a barrier between the front door and the women who are within their rights to seek the service of the clinic inside.  This deliberate act is designed to shame women into not having an abortion. It is a device to intimidate women and deprive them of their choice.  It is not peaceful or pleasant, no matter how much the nice christians in their beige cardigans and corduroy trousers look.  This is an aggressive gesture that has no place in our society.

Women have the right to an abortion.  This isn’t something that needs further discussion.  The matter is settled.

Oh, and stay at home to pray.  It’s warmer.

Tagged with:
preload preload preload