Apr 02

News Ltd continues its unwarranted attack on Michael, ignoring the substance of his activism.  Piers Akerman is the latest bully to make shit up.

IT’S a sad truth that those who so recently claimed to be the bullied are now among the world’s greatest bullies.

Great way to start an article, an assertion, without any substance.  Essentially saying that we, the GLBTIQ activists, that are being bullied by the media, are in fact the bullies.  And we’re really good at it, we’re up there with the greatest of the world’s bullies.

None more so than the ­alphabetical jumble of the ­gender confused in their pursuit of the destruction of the ancient and revered traditional form of marriage.

Straight into it then, lets insult the GLBTIQ community, call it a jumble and tell us were confused and want to end the world!  This notion that we want to destroy marriage is plainly and clearly stupid.  Marriage will continue once marriage equality is here.  How then will it be destroyed?  Simply, it won’t.  People will get married, some will have children, some will stay together, some will divorce, some will be happy, some won’t.  There will just be more of us doing it.

To his great credit, Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, called out the thugs running the so-called marriage equality and diversity campaigns and exposed them and their brutish standover tactics in an unequivocal article in The Australian on Friday.

Thugs? Brutish stand-over tactics?  Davies is kicking up that some folk dare to challenge the status quo and question the authority of the church to set the tone of the debate.  Apparently we should all just shut the fuck up and let archbishops tell us what to do.  Davies uses this antiquated church office of privilege to tell the rest of us what to think and say.  It’s been a long time since the church had any moral authority.

“Not only has this minority view tried to swamp the public debate with its introspective, authoritarian denial of free speech, it has struck at the heart of Australian democracy and the freedoms that we all cherish,” he wrote.

I really want to laugh.  However, I think he is serious.  For centuries the church has been claiming that we are deviants.  We had no way to combat this absurd claim.  We have been killed, locked up, vilified and abused.  We are finding a voice, using it to point out that our treatment is not fair.  For this he claims that we are swamping the debate!  We are denying free speech.  We are undermining democracy and freedoms.  Like we somehow have superpowers to overturn our political system.

Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies spoke out against the “same-sex marriage campaign”.

The use of quotes around same-sex marriage campaign here tries to minimise the reality of the campaign.  It isn’t something that is marginal or unbelievable.  It’s real and happening, right now.

“This narrow-minded, freedom-restricting carping is what the same-sex marriage campaign has come to.

“At the beginning, the promise seemed to be innocent enough — change one word in the marriage legislation and there would be equality for all.

“Now, as people start to ­digest the magnitude of such a social change and the ramifications that would follow for families and the rest of the community when marriage is cut adrift from the significance of gender distinctiveness (the Safe Schools Coalition program is only one of these side effects), other voices are starting to speak up.”

Sigh.  So much to do, so little time.  We start by getting married, then we will begin on the social ramifications, we’ll make sure that your children will understand that they don’t need to be restricted to the narrow-minded version of the world that archbishops see, but that the world is truly diverse and you can be who you want to be and the world won’t end.

The archbishop cited ­numerous examples of the manner in which the homosexual marriage lobby had threatened its opponents and attempted to block debate on this issue with putrid campaigns designed to target Christians, in particular, but discourage all those who refused to fall into line.

Who on the homosexual marriage lobby has threatened anyone?  We’re not blocking debate, we are leading it.  Nobody is being shut down.  That is such a laughable statement.  Here are the archbishop, Akerman, the ACL and the whole of News Ltd speaking out.  Just how are you being blocked?  You wanted a debate?  You got it.  No longer does this debate have to be on the terms you want.  I for one am sick of playing by your rules where you get to tell me how to do it.

He mentioned the forced cancellation of a meeting of church leaders last year in Sydney after staff at the planned venue were subjected to an ­extremely ugly campaign of harassment and threats.

Please refer to the centuries of harassment and threats perpetrated on the GLBTIQ community that still goes on today.  The church leaders meet in a public place to discuss strategy on how to block our efforts for equality and we should just stand back and let it happen.  Use Skype.

He pointed to the case brought against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous before the Tasmanian Anti-­Discrimination Tribunal when that archbishop merely supported the current laws on marriage, which also happen to be the view of his church — all churches — and that held by civilised nations for millennia.

The key word here is merely.  It was so much more than that.  It’s a clear example of the church flexing its control and trying to shut down debate.

Archbishop Davies also drew attention to the manner in which some so-called leaders in the corporate world had folded before social media­ attacks of online pests like serial protester Michael Barnett, whose vile Twitter feed opposing views contrary to his own gives the lie to his claim to be a supporter of “diversity”.

They’re not so-called leaders, they are the top management, CEOs and managers.  You know, leaders.  They don’t fold because someone sent a tweet.  Seriously, you don’t get to be at the top by folding every time someone sends a tweet.

Our ABC showed its own weakness in this debate by posting an apology to Barnett on Thursday which said its program The Drum had “incorrectly” drawn a connection between the marriage equality debate and Barnett’s references to corporate commitments to “Pride and Diversity”, an employer program that campaigns for inclusion for the ­alphabet soup of gender iden­tity.

Or… they realised they made a mistake.  Go figure.

There is not the clichéd cigarette paper’s separation from the issues, they are indivisible, just two sides of the same coin, but the ABC hand-wringers, signed up members to the homosexual marriage and diversity push, rushed to collapse and apologise rather than simply telling Barnett it had fully embraced his ­agenda, even if it may not have agreed with his more abhorrent tweets.

They are very different issues, however, because both issues, diversity and marriage equality, are about the alphabet soup of gender identity I can see why you’re confused.  It’s all to do with the gayz, so therefore all the same issue.  We are just a single body of people who are all in the same soup bowl.

The Barnetts of the world have adopted the bullying tactics used by the climate change lobbyists, formerly known as the global warmists.

What?  As far as a rift to change keys go, this is more like the band leaving the stage and being replaced by some kids with xylophones.  I’ll have to cut a few paragraphs where he attacks climate change, racial discrimination and the colour of black.

Confronting ideas with ideas was once the goal of great universities and the foundation of the great civilising ideas that enabled the growth of the West.

Yeah, so here we are confronting your ideas of how the world should work. Just like it’s been happening.  The world is round, it spins around the sun, around the huge galactic central point.  It doesn’t spin around you and your keyboard.  We’re busy pointing out that ideas are bigger than just doing things the way we’ve always done them.  People are more diverse than you would like to acknowledge and they too have a place in our society to be recognised as fully-fledged citizens.

You know, we’re enabling the growth of the West.  Whatever the fuck that is in a globalised world.

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Mar 30

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

I wasn’t going to write a Part 3 – I thought I’d covered it all.  However, this has taken on a life all of its own and is a good example of how the media has its own agenda and will use their strength to steamroll anyone who doesn’t meet their criteria.

Today The Australian, and I won’t link to them any more, ran another article on Michael and his activism.  They go digging into the past, give little snippets and avoid the whole story.  This tactic enables them to paint a less-than-rosy picture of Michael’s activism.

The headline screams, well, that’s a bit much, it doesn’t scream at all, it is a headline.  There in big letters it says:

Twitter troll who bullies brewers has little love for LGBTI peers

Now Michael has a bunch of new labels.  His name badge is getting quite large.  He is now a Twitter Troll and a Bully and  a Little Love.  I consider him to be my big love.  That’s all he needs on a badge.  I shall get one made up.  He isn’t a Twitter Troll.  You want to see trolls, go look on the Internet, there’s plenty of real trolls.  Michael has raised concerns with people in positions of authority over conflicts of interest.  Hardly trolling.

It’s true of Michael that for some of his peers he has little love.  I have little love for some of my peers too – I guess you probably do too.  You know, just because we’re all part of humanity doesn’t mean that we have to love everyone.  Just because we’re all part of this rather odd bunch of GLBTI people doesn’t mean we all get along.

I want to go through this article sentence by sentence, but I won’t.  Let me be selective, fill in some gaps and leave out a bunch of stuff.  After all, that seems to be the way the media operates.  They have all this essentially unlimited space online and still leave stuff out.  Go figure.

Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.

He didn’t pressure Coopers any more than the hundreds of other people did.  Likewise there has been no pressure on IBM, PwC or Macquarie University.  It’s about as much pressure as you’d apply to a leaky balloon with a bit of sticky tape, not the weight of an elephant stepping on your head.  As for ‘force’ and ‘demanding’ and ‘renounce’ I mean, really?  

Barnett doesn’t want to talk about how Aleph members tried to sack him? Star Observer, April 15, 2010:

A growing rift in Melbourne’s Jewish gay community saw a war of words via email last week, with members of gay Jewish support group Aleph accusing current convener Michael Barnett for being too hostile.

Sack him?  I was at the meeting, no mention of sacking at all.  People were very cross and expressed themselves.  Of course, what is missing here is the background as to how it came about.  It’s easy to create a picture of division when you only part tell the story.

Melbourne’s LGBTI Jews were not happy with Barnett’s bullyboy act. Star Observer, continued:

… other members of the 80-strong group had been “embarrassed” by Barnett’s constant “angry” emails and the group is now discussing ways to establish a new executive committee which may or may not include Barnett.

Yeah, that’s right.  The 80-strong group, they talked a lot.  Offered little support before they were embarrassed, made a lot of noise and disappeared up their own clackers never to be seen again.  In the long run, Michael’s ‘angry’ emails paid huge dividends in the community.

Barnett hasn’t changed his spots. Aleph’s official Twitter account, Nov­ember 25 last year:

We have cancelled our registration in the 2017 Pride March due to @midsumma accepting @newscorpaus sponsorship. First absence since 1997.

What do you mean spots?  Clearly you don’t know him very well.  Michael has remained steadfast in his commitment to diversity, celebration and acceptance of people over all the years I’ve known him.  We, he and I, continue to learn and modify our approach to how we engage.  Boycotting Pride March and Midsumma this year was because of  The Australian and other News Limited media sponsorship arrangement with Midsumma.  It was a reaction to the ongoing vilification that these media outlets engage in on a regular basis.   I still can’t believe that Midsumma didn’t give up this sponsorship.  Again, Michael’s actions are vindicated by this continuing unwarranted attack on him.

The smear campaign is supported by the Letters to the Editor in The Australian.  They show just how the influence of the media can skew the intent and influence the reader.  Here’s a smattering.

Activists are engaging in systematic persecution

A provocative headline to the letters, and simply untrue.  

I thought we lived in a democratic society where freedom of speech, religion and association were protected (“Gay rights activist turns on Christian academic”, 29/3), so I find the actions of these LGBTI campaigners disturbing. They are doing to others what they have suffered in history.

Somehow we aren’t entitled to enjoy freedom of speech?  So, others have suffered in history.  I’m here to tell you, Vita Mezzatesta from Pascoe Vale, Vic, we are suffering right now, and we are kicking back.  Using our free speech and pointing out what’s wrong with the world.

These activist groups can’t touch me directly, and so I write to express my displeasure with all the self-centred, self-serving, intolerant minorities that now attempt to control our lives. There was a time that you could just say bugger off and that was the end of it, but now they have this need to force feed their views on everyone.

You make me laugh Richard Thomson from Kent Town, SA.  Michael is not self-centred or self-serving.  Control your life?  You’d like to tell us to bugger off?  Get back in the closet perhaps?  Force their views on everyone?  Come on.  Perhaps you simply don’t like having your attitudes and beliefs so directly challenged.  Perhaps those beliefs are outdated and wrong.

Then we hear from Alex Greenwich from the lobby group, Australian Marriage Equality.  Alex is a key player in the group and a NSW MP.  This is what I’d call the lead group from our community that is leading the charge to achieve equality for us in marriage rights.  They are self-appointed.  It’s unclear as to how they are funded or how they decide what to do.  

Here’s Alex’s letter.

Our campaign for marriage equality has always been and always will be based on positive, respectful and inclusive conversations to win over the hearts and minds of Australians. The national conversation about marriage equality will only be won if people can have conversations and are allowed to ask any genuine questions they may have.

For many people, same-sex couples having access to civil marriage is a straightforward reform that takes from no one but provides a profound positive change to the lives of lesbian and gay Australians, their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends.

However, there are still people who have genuine questions and it’s important that we continue to listen and engage respectfully. It is because of our respect for the institution of marriage that we will keep engaging until we can join millions of Australians in marrying the person we love in the country we love.

As we continue along the journey to achieving marriage equality, we must do it through uniting, not dividing, and being respectful of everyone’s views along the way.

Alex Greenwich, Australian Marriage Equality, Darlinghurst, NSW

Alex has really let the side down on this one.  He has an ideal opportunity to reset the debate, but instead goes on the sneaky attack.  Essentially Michael’s activism around Pride in Diversity is thrown under the bus by AME.  Michael has supportively pushed, promoted, encouraged and engaged with AME for many, many years.  Not one of them so much as picked up the phone for a chat with him.  Not a Facebook message, an SMS or even an email.  It’s not like they don’t know who he is.  Alex says that we must achieve marriage equality through uniting, not dividing and being respectful.

Michael’s current concern has zero to do with marriage equality.  Alex could have discovered that quite easily.  He could have distanced himself by saying that Michael isn’t talking about marriage equality, he’s talking about Pride in Diversity and members of the ACL employed by organisations that pride themselves on the diversity.

Let me put this as clearly as I can.  The ACL is not the church, they don’t represent a denomination.  They exist to promote their version of christianity, and in that version there are no gay people, no lesbians and no transgender people.  They might tolerate the bisexuals if you only have married sex with the opposite sex, and intersex people if you have surgery to conform to either male or female.  The Lachlan Macquarie Institute is wholly owned by the ACL.  

These two organisation are intolerant of anyone that isn’t heterosexual.  They pretend to be nice, but underneath the facade is a real desire to spread their version of Christianity far and wide.  They are not our friends.  They seek only to have it their way.  They represent a very small part of our society, even smaller than the GLBTI community.

They are not our friends.

Alex had the chance here to give them a kick in the nuts, instead he plays the nice gay boy who doesn’t want to upset the apple cart.  The News Limited media support the ACL.  They don’t play nice and need to make Michael out to be the bad boy, hold him up as an example of what is wrong with the ‘gay lobby’.  Make their readership, that already hates us, justify that hatred.  We play into their hands, and to the hands of the ACL when we, the activist, the ‘gay’ lobby groups and the ordinary GLBTI folk placate them, pretend we are being inclusive when in fact the media is driving the wedge between us and the rest of society.

That is a missed opportunity.

 

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Mar 30

In Part 1 I looked at the background of how Michael’s tweets started, what was driving them and the conflict between holding personal views that are at odds with those you’ve signed up for in the work place.

To recap, Board members of the right-wing religious institution, the Lachlan Macquarie Institute hold positions in organisations that are part of Pride in Diversity, an organisation that benchmarks diversity in Australian workplaces to gauge how inclusive those workplaces are.  The institute is fully owned and run by the Australian Christian Lobby, an organisation that lobbies to keep gay people out of the public sphere and deny equal rights because that’s what Jesus would want.

Michael’s activism in this case has been around the conflict between the two organisations; a simple question of how can you deny the GLBTI community their place in society (Institute’s view) while working at a place that encourages and values the GLBTI community.

The Australian newspaper, owned by News Limited, is no friend of the GLBTI community.  News Limited constantly publish stories, opinion and cartoons that vilify me and everyone in the community.  It’s not a pretty look for a news organisation.

The non-heterosexual citizens of Australia have long been the plaything of the media.  They love to get a good ‘gay’ story to play with.  It drives people to read and interact with their publications. It enables them to generate outrage and to dehumanise those who are different.  I’ve seen it time and time again and have blogged on it.

This is the ultimate.  To take a few tweets and conflate them into something quite ugly.  The tweets asked the two organisations how it was possible for someone who clearly doesn’t support diversity is able to hold positions of leadership at both organisations.

Once The Australian had run front page stories on this, other media ran with it.  However, The Australian made the issue about marriage equality, which it has never been about.

Let’s just track this through a little.

It all starts with the head honcho of the ACL and openly-straight man, Lyle Shelton.  I  say openly straight because whenever someone is not straight, they need to be labelled as such.

Wilson, an openly same-sex attracted man, spoke in favour of redefining marriage and Hastie, an unashamed “Bible reading” Christian spoke for retaining the definition of marriage.

Moderated by Matt Andrews, the short video was simply designed to showcase the Biblical virtue of disagreeing agreeably as part of the Bible Society’s 200th anniversary celebrations. The issue being discussed was immaterial as the Bible Society has not been a participant in the political debate.

I assume that Matt Andrews is an openly opposite-sex attracted man.  It would help if Lyle said so, just so we are clear.  I’d hate to think he was some middle-aged gay bear.  In his meandering blog post Lyle says:

A quick scroll through the #boycottcoopers hashtag on Twitter revealed many of the same vicious people who troll me.
Michael Barnett (Twitter handle @Mikeybear), for instance, was instrumental in spooking Price Waterhouse Coopers last year because one of their senior partners was a board member of ACL.

Lyle goes on to bring every other issue dear to his heart into the blog and finishes with the Leak cartoon of men in rainbow uniforms, a really very disrespectful and downright vilifying cartoon.

At this stage, Michael has called for Coopers to clarify if they support marriage equality.  Which it turns out that they do.  All good in a days work.

Then we have all these CEOs from top Australian companies signing a letter that calls for the government to make marriage equality a reality in Australia.  This made big news, everyone was onto that one, after all one of the people to sign the letter was Alan Joyce, an openly-gay CEO.

Mr Dutton yesterday suggested CEOs, including openly gay Qantas boss Alan Joyce, should “stick to their knitting” rather than trying to “bully” governments into certain positions.

And here starts this notion that writing a letter asking for something is bullying.  It’s a theme that the media and lobby groups love to tout.  It would seem that if you disagree with another’s point of view that somehow makes you the bully.  If you tweet about something that makes other uncomfortable you’re a bully.

The Australian’s Rebecca Urban,  then publishes this headline:

Jewish LGBTI activist defends his role in Coopers boycott saga

along with this paragraph,

A vocal gay rights activist has defended his role in the Coopers boycott saga, claiming he did not accept that the company was hounded into professing public support for marriage equality.

Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, said it was unfortunate the brewer had severed its long-term relationship with the Bible Society in response to the backlash over its beer featuring in a “lighthearted” debate about same-sex marriage.

Michael is now a gay rights activist, a Jewish convener.  Neither label is appropriate.  Any more than an author being called Rebecca Urban, Lesbian Writer and Member of the Knitters Minders Club.  (I made both of those up).  Why define Michael as Jewish, what’s the point of that, apart from saying to everyone something along the lines of look – this gay Jewish poof is getting out of line.  This Jew is telling us Christians how to do things.  He’s way too vocal, let’s put him back in his box.

The next part in the saga happens when Michael notes that a member of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute board is also on staff of IBM.  IBM, as I discussed last time, is pretty big on Pride in Diversity.  Our Lesbian Writer and Chief Knitter takes to her paper and says:

Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia is being targeted by ­militant gay rights activists who have condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a ­Christian organisation.

Urban makes it about marriage equality.  Which it isn’t.  It’s about the conflict between the company diversity policy and an executive’s personal position.  We now have more labels; Michael is now militant and gay.  Militant.

Others jump into the discussion.  Andrew Bolt uses the phrase ‘Totalitarian Gays’, the ACL says he uses ‘standover tactics’, he’s on a witch-hunt on the ABC.  The Australian editorial calls him a ‘Jewish Campaigner’, the ABC’s God Forbid show thinks he is ‘thin-skinned’ and somehow free speech is under attack.

Meanwhile all sorts of abuse is hurled our way with none of the big guys calling anyone to account for their hatred and vilification.  Not IBM, not Macquarie University.  Silence.  They’ll just ride it out.

The best bit comes when the ACL takes the really odd step of removing all directors information from their website and asks the ACNC to remove details from the public database, something about safety fears.  Pretending that somehow hordes of the gayz will descend upon them with desires to gay marry them to their knitting or something.

The saga will go on I’m sure, and from where I stand I’m aghast at how quickly the media gets off track and makes things up.  I’m not surprised at all.  It’s the way it works.  It’s important to have a villain in every story.  The Australian love to vilify those who aren’t, well, aren’t like them.

Michael’s actions are described as ‘the gay lobby’, ‘rainbow agenda’ and various other untrue areas.

And where are the gay lobby groups in all of this.  Where is our gay press?

*Crickets*

Not only has nobody from Australian Marriage Equality told him to shut up, they haven’t uttered a single word of support.  Not one of the Just Equal crowd have re-tweeted or Facebook-ed a message of support.  The gay press is silent and happy to let it run.

Yes, there’s support out there, plenty of it.  Michael runs alone with this, doing what I would see as good work it holding big corporations to account, as much as a single solitary person can.

It’s not an easy task and we often talk about how each of us handle the onslaught, how we respond and what we think about our approach.  We do it with respect and love.  Something that other parties should think on.  It doesn’t take much to respect other people and to question why they are doing this.

There will be a Part 3, there’s more to talk about.

To finish, the Twitter sphere is going off and there are plenty of nasty people lining up to tar us with all sorts of things.

 

 

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Mar 29

It all starts with a tweet:

That’d be my activist husband.  He calls himself on his Twitter profile:

Campaigner for human rights and equality.

Not gay rights, not marriage equality rights, human rights and equality.  For everyone.

Of course, it’s not so simple to say it all starts with this tweet.  Michael had already piqued the interest of The Australian following the Coopers Brewery debacle with the Bible Society and a couple of right-wing Liberal party members.

The misinterpretation and bad reporting by just about everyone starts with this tweet:

Sure, Michael gets sweary.  Some people find that challenging.  I myself try to limit my swearing to private conversations, I’m not always successful.  I don’t find tweets with ‘fuck’ in them much of a problem.  It’s easy to pick up on public swearing as some sort of measure of a person’s moral standing.  Or, you could use it as a measure of the stress and frustration by Michael when a section of society sees non-heterosexuals as deviants, perverts, sinners and plain and simply evil.  They play nice, say nice things, they mean really mean things.

As an aside, as I don’t want to dwell on the Coopers Brewery situation too much.  My objection to this was simply that the Bible Society thought it suitable to have a light-hearted conversation about marriage equality.  That is, my right to have my marriage to Michael recognised by the State.  Human rights are not something our politicians should be having a light-hearted conversation about over a beer.

The Australian has led the charge in indignation following Michael’s tweets.  They’ve splashed his name across the front page of their newspaper and generated quite the media storm with various outlets making assumptions. Most of those assumptions are incorrect.

I can categorically say that Michael has not asked for anyone to be sacked.  I can also say that he has not made a connection between the current marriage equality quest and people belonging to the Australian Christian Lobby’s board or the Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board.  It is so much more than that.

So, the background.  Michael has tweeted about Mark Allaby from IBM and Steven Chavura from Macquarie University.  IBM and Macquarie University are part of Pride in Diversity.  These men also sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

Pride in Diversity runs the Australian Workplace Equality Index.  Organisations undertake the bench-marking for a variety of reasons, at the crux of the work is the value that they see in ensuring that their employees are happy in their workplace and that managers are supportive of the diverse workforce they have.

IBM is considered a silver tier employer in 2016 benchmarks.  That is, they have undertaken a significant amount of work in the area of GLBTI inclusion and are currently very active in the space.  Macquarie University are on the bronze tier, they have provided sufficient evidence of work in the space to be considered to have GLBTI inclusive workplace.  Both organisations take their workforce seriously in relation to inclusiveness and diversity with respect to the non-heterosexuals amongst them.  The Pride in Diversity participation is voluntary, and I would guess seen as important to these workplaces, it’s a lot of work to get to the top rankings.

I’m sure that IBM and Macquarie University have staff ethics statements and codes of conduct that talk to this diversity.    One of the sections in the benchmarks is about policy and practice.  Like all workplaces you would be expected to sign these codes and statements in good faith and agree to abide by them.

Lachlan Macquarie Institute is attempting to train up-and-coming leaders of the future.  They would like them to carry the Christian message into their public lives.  They are guided by a board, and that board is very similar to the board of the Australian Christian Lobby.  The ACL has been going out of its way to make life for people like me difficult.  The Institute’s director writes this on the web site:

What we seek to achieve by this programme is the transformation of the nature of politics and governance in Australia. By helping develop the character and intellectual foundations of future politicians, journalists, advisors and public policy influencers before they step into public life.  The hope is that  we  will see more decisions based on a solid understanding of what is good, true and beautiful in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”

– 2 Corinthians 5:20

Nick Jensen – Director – Lachlan Macquarie Institute

In a nutshell, they want to train people to carry the hard-right religious message into the world.  That message that says the only good thing in the world is heterosexuals, white and middle class.

How then is it possible for Allaby and Chavura to sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute while at the same time working in organisations that actively work to attain status in the Pride In Diversity Program?

This is the question that is being asked.  The evidence of the staff at both organisations would appear to be at odds.  Further questions I think that are worth asking is do the organisation really want to belong to Pride in Diversity or is it just lip service?  Is it possible to shield your faith from your work when that faith actually requires you to influence your work place?  What protection do the GLBTI community have from those that consider them to be second class citizens?

In part two I’ll take a look at the media-shit-storm that is raging from inaccurate reporting.

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Jan 29

I am a man.  I’m pretty complex, I think we all are.  As it happens I’m gay.  Which is just as well, because I got married to a man.

I’m a proud gay man.  It took years to get here.  To take ownership of the sort of man I am, to recognise who I am and to accept it.

That’s pride.

Today is Melbourne’s Pride March, I have attended every year for the last 10 years.  This year I’m not marching and I’m not watching.  I’m boycotting.

As I’ve often said in this here blog of mine, people like me, you know, the non-hetero-normative types, are often the media’s play things.  That’s certainly the case with News Limited publications.  They have some key contributors that continually vilify people not like them.

Regrettably Midsumma have a sponsorship arrangement with News Ltd.    An organisation that runs the Midsumma Festival and Pride March for the queer community has a deal with a media company that uses gay as a way to drive division in our community.

The right thing for Midsumma to do was to walk away from the deal as soon as it was pointed out to them. They didn’t.

I can’t support that.

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Jan 09

Somewhere in the distant future humanity settles another planet and private enterprise manages to run passenger ships between the two planets.  5,000 people sign up to be transported in suspended animation for the 120 year journey.  By the time they arrive on their new home everyone they know back on Earth is probably dead.  Some days I’d like to sleep for 120 years.

The ship is fantastic, it is a big loopy thing with spinning rings and a long pointy nose that generates a protective shield or something, that pushes small objects out-of-the-way or burns them up.

Everyone is having a snooze, the 259 person crew too.  So the machine is fully automated.  For the sake of the movie the ship has lighting on for the 120 years and the computer systems continue to display vital information on big screens although there is nobody there to see it.  You’d probably trim a few years off the journey if you turned it all off and re-routed the power to propulsion, which is displayed as a lovely blue ring of burning stuff.

This is why I come to see science fiction movies.  I love to imagine the future and what it might be like.  I love the special effects and the thinking behind the devices of the future.

As you’d expect, something goes wrong on the Titanic, the iceberg hits and one of the passengers wakes up.  He’s a mechanic, James Preston, although he quickly tells the automated wake-up routine that he likes to be called Jim and every automated system throughout the ships address him as such from then on.  Clearly the original sign-up form didn’t have ‘Preferred Name’ or Jim forgot to fill it in, names can be so difficult.  Trillions of dollars on space travel, still can’t get a simple form right.

Jim is played by Hollywood heart-throb Chris Pratt.  We’d all love to spend a few years with Chris travelling the universe.  He has dreamy eyes, a cheeky smile and a body to die for.  Sexy.

For the rest of you that aren’t gay, bi or a straight woman you have to look at Aurora, played by Jennifer Lawrence.  She’s a delight to look at too, although I’m not expert on that.

Aurora, which is a wonderfully futuristic name, is also woken up.

So, Aurora and Jim wake up 90 years early, which is a problem.

Jumping to the end of the movie, Aurora the writer and Jim the mechanic manage to plug the hole in the ship using nothing but a few manuals that are printed on laminated cards and some high-tech devices.  The final part is, as you’d expect, full of impossible things and keeps you on the edge of the seat.  However, the mechanic and the writer save the Titanic from sinking.

The middle of the movie is appalling and is the reason I’m writing this review.  Jim spends a year by himself, his only company an android bartender named Arthur.  Arthur has been programmed with cheesy bartender type advice and is always polishing glasses.  The non-human becomes the confidante of Jim.  Jim tries to wake the crew, break into the bridge and send a distress call, all to no avail, and of course, goes mad.  During his many travels around the ship and presumably looking at 4,999 sleeping passengers, he discovers Aurora’s hibernation pod.  Helpfully the ship still has all its displays lit up giving full details of who is in the pod.  Not only can he gaze upon her beauty, he can glean basic information from the pod about her.

In the stalker of the future he manages to tap into her ‘Facebook’ type account, read everything she has ever written and become quite fixated on her.

In the ultimate Genesis moment of the entire history of everything, the voice of god thunders out “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  And so Jim sets upon a plan to wake up Eve, sorry, Aurora.  That’s right.  This super sexy man is going to wake up the super sexy woman, not one of the other 4,998 passengers who may have a useful skill like hibernation pod repair or a degree in astrophysics.  No, no, Jim thinking with his waggly bits wants the woman, because she is beautiful.  It’s OK though, he struggles for months trying to decide whether or not to wake her up. He knows that she will face certain death because he also knows that there is still 89 years to go and they’ll both die.  He even talks to Arthur about it.  He knows it’s wrong, he struggles with the decision, and for a man who has spent 12 months looking at all the other options, he sets upon this as a course of action.

His waggly bits win out, he cuts his hair, removes his beard and he wakes her up and promptly lies to her and sets about spending the middle bit of the movie trying to win her heart, because she’s beautiful, he’s a man and he has needs.  She’s a woman and we have sexual tension.  We would all fall in love with him, even though he is a creep, a stalker, a murderer, a liar and a complete dickhead.  But it’s OK, he has eyes that beg forgiveness.  When Aurora finally works it all out she is, as you’d expect, very upset and yells a lot.  She even takes to breaking into his room and hitting him in the dead of night.  Predictably she then spends her time ignoring him and he spends his time trying to win her back.  He is not called to account for his actions, yet he is redeemed because he alone, the big brave man with the brown eyes puts his life on the line saves the day and Woman swoons.  Ugh.

Who writes this crap?  Who writes a really good beginning, a really good ending and stuffs up the middle bit?  There are thousands of ways to write the story.  The sexy woman could have been a mechanic that specialises in hibernation pod repairs, or an astrophysicist or an amateur astronomer or leader of the free world or a company executive able to give him access to the First Class passengers privileges.  Instead, we get a writer, nothing wrong with writers, perhaps not first choice in a crisis.  He didn’t wake her to write the story of what was happening, or to draft a stern memo to the company to give them a jolly good telling off.  He woke her because he was ‘in love’ with her.  He stalked her.  He then decided that it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, to take the life of another human as it’s not good for the man to be alone.  Woman is swept off her feet by the bad boy who saves the day.

She forgives him, of course, and they live happily ever after.

His character is a creepy arsehole.

The writers should hang their heads in collective shame.

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Dec 10

An evening walk with Michael provokes memories of a blonde hair, freckle face boy from the country.

In the cool of the evening, we’re walking along the Gardiners Creek track in Glen Iris, listening to the bird life settling down for the night, the frogs starting to croak and the insects making their noises.

The crickets in particular cast my mind back to long hot summers day in Hamilton.  The day spent in the local swimming pool with little sun protection, getting sun-burned.  We would wander home and eat our dinner of limp lettuce and fresh home-grown tomatoes with whatever cold meat was on special that week.  As the cool of the night sets in Mum would take to watering the garden and grass.  In those days a sprinkler was left on for spraying its water everywhere, every now and then she’d wander out and drag it along the grass a little by pulling on the hose.  Those were the days, plenty of water, no thought for running the reservoir  dry.   We would be wearing only our togs on those balmy evenings.  The doors and windows of the old weatherboard house would be flung wide open hoping to catch any whisper of a cool breeze.  The big old water cooler would be regularly topped up with a bucket of water, pointed to Mum and Dad.  Mum in her light dress, dad in his white singlet and shorts.  He’d be drinking beer, pouring glass after glass from his long-necked bottle, Mum taking her time with her glass.  Him smoking, she knitting.

As darkness sets in the ground comes alive with the sounds of crickets.  Not cicadas, but the chirpy sounds of black crickets buried under the wet soil.

We’d rush outside when the chorus arose and jump up and down on the soggy lawn to silence then.  As quick as one would go silent under our earth tremor another would start and we’d dart about the lawn with laughter and a sense of duty to bring silence to the world.

Pepper Daisies along the Gardiners Creek track

Tonight as I walked along I heard those crickets under the lawn, in a flashback to my childhood I was about to turn around and jump on the spot when Michael walked over them and silenced them.

We walked on, my memory of a time long ago faded and a sense of relief that I didn’t have to explain to him why I was jumping up and down.   Still, I was left with a longing for a simpler time.

 

Sep 21

It was a simple request.

Did I know of any prominent Australian’s prepared to sign their name to a letter to stop the plebiscite.

Yes.  Yes, I do know some.  I began to make a mental list.

Then I started crying.

On a day when one of Australia’s newspapers publishes a derogatory cartoon depicting Nazi SS officers in ‘gay apparel’ and a day that saw the GLBTIQ radio station, Joy 94.9, receive a bomb threat, I was about to email people I know to ask for their support.

Ask?  Beg?  Feels like begging.

This is so deeply personal while the hate war rages around me I feel compelled to make a stand for a simple, basic, human right.

I have to ask others for their support.

Sometimes I’m not at all sure I’ll last the distance.  I will, of course.  It’s hard.

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Sep 20

I’m tired at the end of a long day, and as I sit down to read my daily emails and look for what the other side is saying, I come across Lyle Shelton’s latest blog on the ACL website.

It’s titled “SSM Leaders’ Failure To Condemn Violence Endangers Everyone’s Safety”

That should be enough to ward you off the rest of the blog, however, I need to call bullshit on this.  Turn away now…

OK, you’re still here, here goes:

Australians got a glimpse this week of what the ACL team has been living with for years.

Since some whacker wrote in the bible that I was worthy of death because I’m gay people like me have endured discrimination and vilification on a daily basis, and some of us continue to be the victims of hate crimes.  Up until quite recently GLBTIQ people have been incarcerated and some hanged for simply being gay.  So pardon me while I laugh at the claim of his religious sect being a little persecuted for a few years.  This pitching of the ACL and therefore Australian Christians as victims just doesn’t ring true for me.

They also got a glimpse of what will happen to their freedom of speech and freedom of association should marriage ever be redefined in law.

There is nothing to indicate that freedom of speech or freedom of association is at risk and this is nothing more than a standard scare tactic designed to make Lyle and his team seem like the real victims.

It simply will not be possible to publicly hold a dissenting view without facing demonisation at best and legal action at worst.

You do hold a dissenting view and you will continue to hold it after we have marriage equality.  What you won’t be able to do is to use your dissenting view to break the law.  You can’t do that now, I know this because I haven’t been stoned in a legal way.

The viscous intimidation of staff at the Sydney Airport Mercure Hotel brought to light one of the long-standing and key tactics of same-sex marriage advocates for shutting down debate.

He may have meant vicious, I’m not sure.

There has been no indication about the nature of the calls, and those expressing their disgust about the hotel allowing this meeting to be held on their premises is a legitimate way to protest.  I’m certain that there were plenty of calls, and some of them over the top.  The debate is not being shutdown, we get to voice our disgust, the same as you do Lyle when you go after organisations that display ads you don’t approve of or TV shows that you find reprehensible.  I’m pretty sure your side has its ratbags too.  You can’t have it both ways.  I’d also suggest that as we don’t know the names of the activists you alleged made the calls we have no way of verifying your information.  It’s also a stretch to imply that all activists are somehow connected.  We’re a diverse group and there’s no way for you or me to control the rage and anger for some.

The Mercure Hotel said that their staff were “rattled” by the phone calls and abuse they copped when activists started targeting them for hosting a pro-marriage event.

I’m sure that hotel staff often get rattled by nasty customers.  However, this seems to mostly be hearsay, mostly Lyle and his right-wing media buddies beating it up.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the advocacy group Marriage Alliance and ACL had booked a meeting room to hold a campaign briefing for more than 100 coalition partner groups.

The meeting was scheduled for tonight and is going ahead at a different location.

Sadly, we have to meet in secret.

The world is a big place and yet you let everyone know that you and your mates will be meeting in a Sydney hotel, you’re surprised when that attracts attention and will result in the action that you’ve seen?  Why didn’t you hold it in secret in the first place?  Are you setting this up?

I don’t think this is the sort of Australia most people want created by the push to redefine marriage in law.

These tactics are not something new, it is the way the people protest to companies when they do something they don’t like.  Try and be a chicken farmer at the end of animal activists or a company providing pregnancy termination at the end of christian activists.

Australians feel uncomfortable with the situation where fellow Australians, who hold to the Millennia-old idea that marriage is between a man and a woman and that children, wherever possible, deserve their mum and dad, are having to meet in secret because of safety concerns.

Seriously, did you just make that appeal to mass approval without evidence?  Since when did you get to decide what Australians feel?  Aren’t those who oppose you also your fellow Australian?  The current version of marriage is not millennia-old.  The scurrilous claim that children ‘deserve’ something is emotive and a dirty play on words,  you don’t have to meet in secret, you could simply not advertise.  There is nothing to indicate that your safety was at risk.

ACL has, of course, faced this may times before but we have never lost a venue.

Until now.

People have often protested your venues, you know it and it was only a matter of time before one of your venues cancelled on you. This isn’t new or unusual.

The threats of violence have escalated and we were forced to leave the Mercure out of concern for the safety of staff and guests.

They are the innocent bystanders in this debate – simply doing their job in helping a client hold a meeting. Australia is now no longer safe, even for non-combatants.

Yep, threats of violence are not nice.  What were those threats and where are the records of them?  At times regretfully hotels make decisions based on credible threats.   This is probably more about the reputation of the hotel and less about you.

What the Mercure staff faced last week is what ACL’s staff face on a regular basis.

Our receptionist regularly fields threatening calls and has even had death threats and threats of physical violence.

We report these to the police.

I have no doubt that you do get those phone calls, you seem to think that you’re the only ones.  I recently was told that gay people should be rounded up and shot.

We also reported to the police instances of our female staff being emailed homosexual pornography.

One image contained what looked like a minor. The police have not been able to action this.

I was sent some pretty disturbing photos during the week.  I found the delete button.  Of course, you should report anything you find threatening, that’s common sense.  It doesn’t matter how hard any of us try, there will always be someone who doesn’t know how to behave.  Adding this to the ‘debate’ is a straw-man addition.

Last week a same-sex marriage activist, who is on a speaking tour for a same sex marriage organisation, entered our Canberra office and bizarrely made a mess in the women’s toilet.

The activist was peering through our downstairs windows.

With the memory of Senator Cory Bernardi’s Adelaide Office trashing fresh in our memories, our team was unnerved.

Why is this even in here?  It sounds like to me that you’re making an unsubstantiated accusation and equating that to all ‘same-sex marriage activist’ which is simply untrue and quite frankly pretty low.

Yesterday, when leaders of the same-sex marriage movement were asked by the media to condemn the activists who targeted the Mercure, they declined to do so.

In fact, they implied that groups like ACL had it coming.

When leaders fail to condemn this sort of activity, it only further emboldens the extremists in their movement.

*Yawn* You really are making this a bigger issue than it really is, and you know it.

Rodney Croome is quoted in the Australian:

Veteran marriage equality ­advocate Rodney Croome indicated his sympathy for the Christian groups was limited. “Threats, discrimination and refusal of service are painful, demeaning and completely unacceptable, as most LGBTI people know all too well, so I hope having had this experience the ACL will now reconsider its demand to roll back anti-­discrimination and anti-hate laws,” he said.

“The two sides of the marriage equality debate should be talking to each other to find common ground, but instead we face a divisive and unnecessary plebiscite that will only escalate these kinds of tensions and hostilities.”

So, his sympathy is limited, but not absent, he said that it was completely unacceptable and says that we’ve been putting up with it for years.  Also, this is The Australian, right-wing and one-sided.  Not sure why we have to take it at anything other than face value.

This has made me very worried for the safety of ACL office staff who bear the brunt of vitriol on a regular basis.

If people from our side were ringing the offices of Australian Marriage Equality or trying to shut down their events with threats of violence, I would be the first to condemn this.

Uhuh.  Aren’t you just the shining light of reasonableness!

Yet politicians like Labor’s Stephen Jones smear us by saying both sides are guilty of bad behaviour.

You are.

But he and others who lump us all in together provide no evidence.

It’s a bit rich that you would lump all ‘activists’ in the same bucket.  Has Rodney Croome ever called your office and been offensive?  No, I didn’t think so.  Has a christian who supports the ACL ever called a gay person and told them that they are scum and burn in hell forever?  Yes.

ACL is used to the double standards.

Of course you are.  You think somehow you are above this behaviour, but you have a history of abuse towards GLBTI people.

The rest of the nation is now beginning to wake up to this.

What exactly is it?  That people have double standards?  I’m pretty sure we’re used to that already.  Look at the mess we’re in now.  Malcolm Turnbull wants marriage equality but is taking us through this horrible process.   You’re also the picture of double standards, you bear false witness.  The reason you don’t want marriage equality has naught to do with children and everything to do with your belief that your version of god has said that marriage is between opposite sex couples and that sex should only happen inside marriage.  Why do you hide what you’re really after?  A world where women remain silent and simply provide babies inside marriage only.  Don’t you lecture us on double standards.

We will continue to speak about the consequences of taking gender out of marriage which lead to “Safe Schools”, where our children are taught their gender is fluid.

This has nothing to do with marriage equality.

We will continue to speak about the rights of children, wherever possible, to be loved and nurtured by their own mother and father – something same-sex marriage makes impossible.

This is simply naive and emotive.  Next you’ll be showing us pictures of Bambi.

We will continue to speak about the loss of freedom that same-sex marriage law creates.

There is no loss of freedom.

The same-sex marriage debate is a proxy for a radical re-ordering of our society’s understanding of gender and freedom of speech.

It’s not a proxy for anything.  It’s really very easy, I want to get married to the person I love, just like you.  Not that I want to marry you, well, I don’t.

I mentioned legal action earlier.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous recently spent six months tied up in legal action before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal simply for distributing Christian teaching on marriage.

This is serious folks.

Context?  You make it sound too simple, which it isn’t.

It is naïve to think it will get better once the law is changed and State-based Anti-Discrimination Law stands ready to condemn as hateful bigots any of us who publicly seek to teach our view of  marriage.

It will get better.  We function as a society a whole lot better when everyone is treated with respect and dignity.  This is lacking at present.  You won’t be prosecuted for being a bigot, in fact I’m confident that this won’t change your bigotry.  What you won’t be able to do is break the law.

We must not let intimidatory tactics stop us from participating in the debate.

Yes.  You’re not being intimidated really are you? You’re still out there participating in the debate.  You’re so big and brave.

Make no mistake, tonight’s meeting is going ahead. But I look forward to the day when we don’t have to meet in secret.

You don’t have to do it in secret.  It’s not like the Catholic Church hasn’t got space to host 100 people and not receive a single call of protest.  Stop going to businesses and thinking that we won’t complain.  I like to spend my money with supportive organisations and I will call and complain if they do something that I don’t like.  Then I’ll go somewhere else.   You need to do a proper risk assesment before picking a public venue to hold your secret society meetings.

To achieve this, we must persuade our fellow Australians to preserve marriage at the plebiscite or face continued persecution.

It is as simple as that.

You’ve made a convoluted argument where you’ve attempted to scare people into thinking that something really terrible is happening, overlooking that you regularly appear in the media and have political supporters who can and do speak openly and freely.  You will always be able to do that.

As someone said to me this week, if we are not allowed to have the debate we should not be making the change.

You are having the debate.  You and the ACL are leading the charge, as someone said to me this week, get over it.

 

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Sep 13

I reflect on the last week or so and ponder the huge cost this attention on me and my fellow queers across the nation is having. I get a sense of deep anger, resentment and bewilderment.

I am angry, resentful and bewildered by the actions of all of our politicians. It’s a constant barrage of political games as the to and fro between the Government and Opposition plays out.

I’m hurting, Michael is hurting, I’ve seen and read plenty of comments from my friends to see them hurting.

I’ve read the comments from parents about the impact that this is having on their children. Its distressing. I was in tears tonight reading about the school ground antics.

I’ve also see the community rally and support each other. I’ve got the support from allies who are stepping up and calling this for what it is.

There may not be evidence of an increase in self-harm and suicide, there is however evidence of emotional stress and mental health issues, and that’s just me.

This to me is really simple. My human rights may be voted on by the rest of the nation. That’s so wrong.

All I want is to marry Michael. That’s not so hard.

Thanks friends, be you straight or queer. I need you and your support, and I know that there are plenty of others that need it too.

I’ll continue to do my bit, I’m not sure how I’ll go as its overwhelming at times.

Now the wait while the plebiscite plays out.

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