Aug 21

lyleThe Australian Senate is conducting an inquiry into the recognition of foreign (same-sex) marriages.

They have invited public submissions and are currently holding hearings in various places.

Today, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby was able to use his position to address the committee.  Lyle Shelton, a religious man exercised his democratic right to bring his faith into the political discussion for consideration.

Let’s have a look at what he had to say.

The recognition of foreign same-sex marriages bill is an attempt to further pressure Parliamentarians into capitulating to the same-sex political agenda to change the definition of marriage.

Yes?  And?

There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples. But for some reason, it is important to some political campaigners to see marriage changed from what it is to something else.

There is discrimination.  I’m married to Michael, that marriage is not recognised in Australia.  I’m not a political campaigner,  although you might consider me an activist.  I’m a (NZ) married man wanting my relationship valued and respected in the country of my birth.  Just like every other couple.

ACL facilitated 42,000 signatures on a submission to this inquiry. There is plenty of grassroots opposition to changing the definition of marriage.

42,000 signatures out of nearly 15 million voters, that’s about .28% of the population.  That’s 0.28%, yep, they’re rallying behind your cause.

Such is the politically correct orthodoxy surrounding this issue, few are willing to stand publicly against the political agenda it represents.

Rubbish – there’s plenty of you guys rabbiting on about it.  Just look at the list of people who have made submissions to the Senate inquiry.  I’ve highlighted them in red for you.

National Marriage Coalition (Submission 12)
-Ms Jenny Stokes
-Mr Bill Muehlenberg
Australian Family Association(Submission 2)
-Ms Terri Kelleher
Lawyers for the Preservation of the Definition of Marriage (Submission 18)
-Mr Christopher Brohier SC, Founder
-Mr Neville Rochow SC
Tony Briffa (Submission 40)
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights via teleconference(Submission 21)
-Mr Nathan Kennedy, President
Law Institute of Victoria (Submission 39)
Australian Christian Lobby (Submission 9)
-Mr Lyle Shelton, Managing Director
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney (Submission 7)
-Mr Christopher Meney, Director
-Miss Mary Joseph, Research and Project Officer
Presbyterian Church of Australia (Submission 23)
Australian Baptist Ministries (Submission 8)
-Reverend Rod Benson, Tinsley Institute
-Reverend Keith Jobberns, National Ministries Director

And that’s just one day of public hearings.

No one wants to be accused of prejudice but this is what Australian Marriage Equality asserts is the basis for opposing their political objective is (see page 8 of the AME’s Supplementary Submission).

The best way not to be accused of prejudice is to not do it.  Did you do it?

This is of course deeply offensive to Muslims, Christians and Jews and countless other Australians of nominal or no religion who will always believe the truth about marriage and will want to teach it to their children.

Based on what?  You seem to be under the misapprehension that you have the only ‘truth’ about marriage.  Plenty of the religious demographics you mention have no issue with gay people getting married.  You can believe whatever you want, but stop trying to impose that on everyone else.  Nobody is asking anyone to marry against their religion, but plenty of us are asking to marry the one we love, just like you got to do.

We do not have fear or hate in our hearts, we simply have a view about marriage that we wish to see upheld in public policy. We will want to uphold this through the institutions of civil society such as schools, charities and churches that we create and participate in.

On one hand he tells us that he does not have fear or hate in his heart, the other hand says that it will mean that he’ll be fined and locked up.  Which is it Lyle?

Nobody is saying that you can’t uphold your religious version of marriage.  What we are asking is that in a civil society all should be treated equally under that law.

The recent Crosby Textor poll mislead people by framing the questions as if no one but the same-sex couple would be affected and that there would be no impact on religious freedom.

Impact?  Here I am, part of a persecuted minority thanks to thousands of years of religious generated hate, and yet you’re cross that someone might tell you to cut it out?  What gives you the right to discriminate against someone just because they don’t hold your narrow view of human sexuality?  The impact at present allows your religious freedom to hold the view that I am detestable.   Despite all the research around human sexuality, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the general acceptance in our society, you still want to use the bible to claim victim status and deny me the right to be treated fairly?

Australians don’t want to see their fellow citizens being fined or perhaps even jailed for acting on their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

No, they won’t be fined for holding a belief, they would possibly be fined for breaking the law.  This is such a silly argument, I can’t believe people still use it.

A child such as baby Rhyley lying in a Thai hospital ward, featured on page three of yesterday’s Age, is also affected by same-sex marriage ideology.

He is denied both his surrogate mother and his biological mother because the rights of two men to acquire a baby are allowed to trump the International Covenant on the Rights of the Child which says that all children have the right to be raised, wherever possible, by their biological parents.

You should underline wherever possible.  There are clearly exceptions to the rule now.   You just made one yourself.  You talk about the rights of a child to be raised by the biological mother all the time, and now you’ve just highlighted a right attributed to the surrogate mother.  I’m not sure I follow your reasoning there.

Sure James and Steve are capable of showing Rhyley love, and I’m sure they will. But neither can be his mum.

And?  Neither of them can be his Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent or family pet.  What they can be is co-parents.  You do know that plenty of kids the world over grow up outside this fantasy of mum, dad and two kids routine?  And guess what, they turn out ok too!

Marriage is not just about the emotional needs of adults. The definition of marriage references a biological reality which helps protect the rights of children. That is why governments regulate marriage.

No it’s not.  Marriage is a civil contract between two adults.  You put all that extra stuff into it to trump up your flimsy arguments.  Just in the subtext too Lyle, you’re saying that the biological reality of opposite sex parents helps to protect the rights of children, and yet you ignore that in those relationships children are abused, killed and used as weapons in relationship breakdown.  You are also quietly suggesting that somehow children raised in same-sex relationships aren’t safe, that some how the rights of the child isn’t protected.  That’s nasty.

Governments have no interest in other forms of romantic relationships. They are simply none of our business.

Rhyley is denied his human right to a mother not because of tragedy or desertion but because of a deliberate social engineering decision taken by two men.

You do know that men and women do the same thing, don’t you?  They resort to surrogacy and adoption, is that deliberate social engineering or does that sweet little title just apply to same-sex couples?

We have to ask ourselves whether this is ethical. We have to ask ourselves do we want a new definition of marriage to set these practices in cultural cement. The law is of course a teacher.

Yes, we do have to ask these ethical questions.  And look, here you are asking them.  Fancy that.

Our submission references polling which shows 73 per cent of Australians believe wherever possible a child should be raised by her or his biological mother and father.

Yep, that’s good.  Let’s underline wherever possible.  I also wonder if we can see the way the question was framed?  Or do we only ask those questions when we don’t agree with the result?

We can’t have it both ways and we desperately need an honest and mature debate about the consequences of changing the definition of marriage.

Here you are, a grown up, having a mature debate, addressing a Senate Inquiry.   I bet you wore a tie too!  Here is your chance to put your argument forward.   Yes, I know you’re tired of doing it at all these inquiries, but to suggest that a mature debate isn’t happening is bullshit.  I suspect what you really mean is that the ‘other side’ looks like they might win this.

If we think removing children from their biological parents is fine, then go for same-sex marriage.

It is fine, it happens all the time.  But you’re trying to be emotional, the very thing you say marriage isn’t about.  You use the word remove quite deliberately because is supports your cause.  It harkens back to the silliness of suggesting that we would be creating another stolen generation.  An argument that you unsuccessfully made and got nothing but flack for it.

But “marriage equality” is a slogan whose meaning should be unpacked.

If equality is the principle, how can we deny other definitions of marriage already recognised legally by other foreign jurisdictions?

What makes the gay lobby’s definition morally superior to those defined legally in other jurisdictions and cultures?

You miss the point, we can define marriage as we please, it’s an Act of Parliament.  Equality is the key word here.  We would, I think I can say fairly safely, only ever allow marriage between consenting adults.  A relationship without consent would not be condoned. So no child marriages.  You also seem to forget that there are many laws overseas that we wouldn’t simply enact for equality with other jurisdictions.  For example, in some places you can be executed for leaving your religion, or being gay.  We allow people in Australia to change religions and to be gay, we haven’t adopted the laws of other countries, even though some of our citizens think that it might be a good idea.  I think we are big enough and brave enough to have a good understanding of right and wrong.  Is this part of the mature debate?

One of the many overseas examples of the legal harassment of dissenters to same-sex marriage is the story of Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman who is being sued by the State Attorney General. I table her story in a seven minute electronic format and seek the chair’s permission to provide a copy to each committee member.

Honestly Lyle, you are missing the point again.  You can dissent as much as you like, and here you are dissenting.  Harassment of dissenters is not the case, they broke the law.  When you get a fine for running a red light do you feel that you’re being harassed for breaking the law?  When marriage equality becomes law then some people won’t be able to hide behind their religion to deny services to people.  Just as you can’t discriminate against women just because your religion says you can.  Oh that’s right, you can if you are a religion within the confines of your church.  So the catholics can sack an unmarried pregnant women who teaches in one of their primary schools.  Yet, a catholic principal working in a state school couldn’t do that.  Why is that, I wonder?

I challenge anyone who thinks there are no consequences to changing the definition of marriage to look a child in the eye and tell her she is not allowed to be raised by her biological mother or father.

Seriously. This the best you got?  You want a mature debate and stoop to overly emotive unnecessary hyperbole.  Nobody would ever say that to a child – how stupid. Let’s humour the concept though.  If you did want to say it, at what age would it be appropriate, birth? 2 years old? Too young to understand.  Maybe 10? Is that too late as they’ve already been raised? He also ignores all those kids that have been raised and are being raised by same-sex parents. Will he look those children in the eye and tell them, sorry, you’re going to have to go and live with your biological parents?

No, of course not.

That’s not the way to have a mature debate.

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Jun 12

It’s no secret that I’m in a wonderful relationship.  I tell everyone at every opportunity.  I struggled for ways to show Michael how important he was to me.  I couldn’t find that one thing needed to express my love for him, then I asked him to marry me.  He said yes.

Marriage is an important milestone for us.  We can’t do it in Australia.  Fundamentally we aren’t really changing anything about our relationship, we are simply publicly  expressing the importance of our lives together.

So when I yet again read something from the Australian Christian Lobby that attempts to undermine my relationship with Michael I get a bit upset.  Not just for me but for others who so desperately want to get married.

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the ACL and he writes:

But the Greens, who cite changing the definition of marriage as one of their top priorities (along with euthanasia), are chipping away.

Recently they set up a Senate inquiry into a bill to recognise same-sex marriages conducted overseas.

This is clearly a tactic to put pressure on parliamentarians as part of the Greens’ misguided assault on the rights of  children to have their mum and dad, wherever possible.

Whether or not you think the Greens are misguided is a political judgement, they are doing what they should be doing in a democratically elected parliament, attempting to represent those that voted for them.  However, to suggest that somehow marriage equality is an assault on the rights of children is just insane.  This notion that somehow allowing Michael and me to get married will mean that kids won’t have a mother and father is madness.

The truth is there is no discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia. Keeping marriage between a man and a woman does not change this.

Well, lets test that, I assume Lyle is straight and married to a woman.  I assume that they love each other and the reason that they got married is because they love each other.  Lyle has married the person of his choice.  I love Michael.  I want to marry him.  Michael is my choice for the person I want to marry.  Yet, I’m not permitted under Australian law to do so.  Why not?  It’s because we are both men.  That, to me, sounds like discrimination.  Feels like it too.

But if Australia capitulates on the definition of marriage, our cultural assumption that a child has the right – wherever possible – to her or his biological mother and father, will be lost.

What is it with these guys that they continually place children as the central reason for marriage ignoring all those who decide to either have children out-of-wedlock or not have children at all.  There is no requirement to have children as part of a marriage and there is no requirement to be married to have children.  And just once it’d be great to see Lyle show us just where this right that apparently is a cultural assumption is written down.

A civil and unselfish society puts the rights of children first, no matter how emotive the arguments against this are.

I don’t know which society you live in Lyle, but our society is very selfish.  Sure, there are lots of great things happening and lots of selfless people about, but really, there are poor, hungry, homeless children living amongst us.  You could be working with those families that need support instead of picking on the gays.  The unsaid thing here, however, is this notion that somehow gay people have children as some sort of trophy or possession.  That we only want children so we can somehow show them off.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Every parent I’ve met, regardless of their sexuality, is a selfless parent who would do anything for their children.  Just because you’re gay doesn’t stop that fundamental biological urge to have children and raise them as your own.  It’s part of being human, and mostly our sexuality doesn’t diminish that drive any more than the rest of the population.  That same basic instinct is the same that drives straight couples to start families.

It’s easy to over look the role that Lyle Shelton as the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby plays in this debate.  We need to be taking that into account in all their lobbying.  Although Lyle makes no mention of it, religion is the driving factor here.  He pretends that it’s about the children, because for the ACL that’s the emotive argument.  The way they continue to justify their discrimination is to pretend that it’s not biblically based.  The reality is that the ACL is about forcing their version of Christian ethics on the rest of the population.  Their ethics are orthodox Christian values.  They believe that gay people are sinners, the work of demons and just plain evil.  The Chairman of the ACL, Tony McLellan said this in a report on Lateline in 2012:

TONY MCLELLAN: It’s against the kingdom of God by the Devil. The Devil doesn’t like God and doesn’t like everything God stands for. I would say that people who are trying to change the definition of marriage, which has its roots in Christianity, are obviously trying to deconstruct Christian’s views of what marriage should be. And they well may be motivated by the evil one to do that.

No doubt there are plenty of reasons to deconstruct Christian views in our society.  The churches have used and abused their position when it comes to the well-being of children.  Reality is that religion isn’t going away any time soon.  But then neither am I.  Nor are the hundreds of thousands of gay Australians and our supporters.

The ACL haNo Crossve tried to shift this ‘war’ to the well-being of the children.  For generations children have been raised in a variety of ways, through mothers only, through villages, through dads only, with the use of wet-nurses, adopted parents, orphanages and with both parents.  There should be no doubt in your mind that no matter what happens to marriage, people will continue to breed and raise the off-spring.  The way forward is not to tell us who can and can’t do it, but to support those who want to be parents.  As a society that is surely the way to do it.

The ACL in shifting the debate is being dishonest and disingenuous.  At the root of all their rhetoric only one thing matters to them, bringing about the kingdom of their god.  They honestly believe that it is their duty to push their ethics onto the rest of society because they think they’re right.  If we don’t agree with them we are deemed to be a demon, be influenced by a demon or just plain evil.

We don’t hear that sort of talk from them, it’s not going to win them any support.  The last thing that the ACL really cares about is your children, or the rights of the children.  They only care about their faith.  Nothing else matters.

How selfish of them.

——

You can voice your support for marriage equality by making a submission to the Senate Inquiry for the Recognition of Foreign Marriages Bill 2014 at the website for Australian Marriage Equality.

Join the Australian Equality Party, a new voice in Australian politics that aims to promote fairness, equality and human rights.

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Feb 06

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and he’s just written a rather nasty little piece about gay people.  Again.  He’s trying to be reasoned but ignores the reality of the world, as so many fundamentalist christians do.

Even the heading of his little spray is really very mean-spirited and sets the tone for the rest of the article.

Deep breath needed in rush to dismiss mum and dad parenting

Nobody but nobody is trying to dismiss mum and dad parenting.  Gay people having children doesn’t mean that somehow all the other children in the world will find themselves without a parent.  Lyle needs to take a deep breath.

Children miss out on a mum or a dad usually because of tragedy or desertion.

Where this occurs we as a society rightly provide financial and moral support to single parents.

Where children are orphaned the State usually seeks to provide a mother and father replacement family through adoption.

In all cases, the best interests of the child are paramount.

Hardly.  Single parents are very often left to struggle.  Poverty for these groups is rife.  Financial support is very limited.  For an organisation that bangs on about the importance of what’s in the best interest of the children do very little to acknowledge that what is important is that all families should be at the gold standard.  That should be what they strive for, not this fancy notion of moral support.

We have also rightly condemned and apologised for practices that led to the stolen generation and forced adoption practices of the past.

Here’s another nasty bit of text.  What Lyle isn’t saying is that often said rot that allowing same-sex parents to have children is akin to forcibly taking the child away from her parents. Forcibly being the key word.  No child in a same-sex relationship is being forcibly removed.  Lyle is warning you that if we allow people like me to have children, in thirty years time we’ll have to apologise to those children for screwing up their lives.  The stolen generation does not even begin to compare with same-sex parenting.

The recent debate about same-sex marriage has highlighted the issue of parenting by same-sex couples.

Hang on, so far you’ve talked about single parents and the children of the first Australians.  Now we jump into same-sex couples.  Whether the likes of Lyle know or understand, same-sex couples have been raising children since the start of time and the world continues to spin.  Marriage will not change that fact.

A number of studies have been conducted which seem to suggest that kids raised by same-sex couples fare no worse and possibly even fare better than kids raised by heterosexual parents.

Well no, the studies don’t seem to suggest.  The studies state that the kids are ok.

The most recent, a survey of existing studies from here and overseas, was conducted by sociologist Dr Deborah Dempsey on behalf of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

A key message of Dr Dempsey’s survey is that: “Overall, research to date considerably challenges the point of view that same-sex parented families are harmful to children. Children in such families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers from heterosexual families.”

The same-sex marriage lobby was quick to say that Dr Dempsey’s survey of the studies means the debate about same-sex parenting is over.

However, it is known that data for most of these studies has come from self-selecting samples and mainly from lesbians from a higher than average socio-economic demographic.

Oh no, all these studies have been done from self-selecting samples.  Let’s ignore that study after study finds the same thing that the children are OK.  It’s a pity that Lyle didn’t apply the same logic to the studies that he relies on, studies that have been debunked by so many people.

Lesbian parents who have high incomes and are well-educated unsurprisingly report that their kids are doing well and they most likely are.

How dare the lesbians have high incomes!  How dare the lesbians be well-educated.  With that statement it should be obvious to Lyle that he should be encouraging decent educational outcomes for all citizens regardless of their sexuality.

While increasing, the numbers of same-sex couples parenting children remain very small. Dr Dempsey says 33 per cent of lesbian women in Australia have children and 11 per cent of homosexual men have children.

Around two percent of the Australian population is homosexual or lesbian but not all are in couple relationships.

With such small numbers, particularly for male homosexual parenting, it is perhaps too early to be drawing  conclusions.

Indeed, it’s too early to draw conclusions, but you do anyway.  You are suggesting that it’s better to tell gay people not to have children, just in case they screw their kids up.  Again, the same standard is not applied to the children of people who aren’t as well-educated and earn high incomes just like those lesbians that are raising well-adjusted kids.

The overwhelming conclusion of the vast body of social science research is that kids do best when raised by their biological mother and father.

Except for the research that hasn’t been conducted by some christian funded organisation or doesn’t properly reflect the GLBTIQ community, or research that has serious flaws in its methodology.

Common sense and the evidence of past practices of child removal tell us that a child’s biological parents matter to the child, regardless of the love provided in alternative arrangements.

Yes two men can love a baby, but is it right to have removed that baby from her mother?

Are fathers an optional extra?

Common sense?  It’s a pity Lyle doesn’t use some.  You see the thinking of christian fundamentalists is along these lines.

1.  The bible says that gay people are an abomination.

2.  Being gay is a sin

3.  Sin is from the devil

4.  Therefore all gay people are evil and either want to eat your children or raise them to be gay or raise them to fail in life.

5.  If you disagree refer to 1.

These are important ethical questions that should be front and centre of the debate about redefining marriage.

Oh please, nobody is redefining marriage.  People will still get married, some will have children, some won’t.  Some people will have children and not get married.

Once a new definition of marriage is legislated, these questions become obsolete. In fact, they become inappropriate.

toddlerpink

As usual with a media release, we get broad statements with little about the driving motivation.  The ACL and Lyle have no time for anything that is gay and would like to wipe it off the face of the earth because jesus loves us all.   These discussions are inappropriate now.  Instead of trying to support all families, Lyle and the ACL focuses on a small section of the community and run around screaming that the gays are having children!  Won’t anyone listen to them!

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Sep 22

What a week I’ve had.  What a month it’s been.  It’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting out on the deck thinking about all that’s happened.  I wonder just how people survive at times.  There is such a swirl of feelings and emotions going on all the time for me as I struggle to make sense of all that’s happening.

A hectic week at work as I pick up the pieces after a couple of weeks off.  I’m at the pointy end of a couple of major projects, which is a great feeling.  All the planning and research that at times is tedious and difficult finally pays off and I’m at a stage of making in one project, a really well-informed decision.  That’s good. The addition of another contract has set off a whole raft of events that needs my focus, so at the end of a mammoth work week my head is spinning. It’s not so much daunting, it’s more along the lines of mixing in the new project with the old and giving them all the right attention.

In my personal life I’m listening to and supporting the mother of my children as she continues to live with her terminal cancer.  It’s a challenge. I’ll do what’s needed to take care of her.  Nobody deserves such a rough end.  When it’s someone you love and care about, that makes it all the more difficult.

After four years, Michael and I continue to co-habit in a wonderful life together, we at times struggle with each other, but somewhere within us is a deep love and respect for each other.  It helps us sort out our relationship.  It also helps that he has gorgeous brown eyes and a winning smile.

Looking back a bit further, I’ve reeled in horror at the outrageous demonisation of my sexuality and therefore me by Wallace at the ACL, and then heard that reinforced by Jensen on Q&A – it’s been really demoralising to hear such vile words repeated often in the media, making it sound like all people who are gay are a health risk, not just to themselves, but to society at large.  The underlying and unsaid meaning coming from the likes of Wallace and Jensen is that gay people are not worthy of life.  Certainly not worthy of any recognition in our society.

It was heart warming to see the PM pull out of her keynote speech to the ACL, Gillard is against marriage equality, so for her to withdraw her support from the ACL was gratifying and appeared to be supportive.  I took it as a glimmer of hope.

The other big story of course, is the vote in both houses of the Australian Parliament.  It saw two marriage equality bills soundly defeated.  Further cementing the feeling of second class citizen status in my own country.  Somehow my relationship isn’t worthy of recognition.

What a week.

I know my worth as a person, I get on with my job and I’m pretty sure I’m a valued and respected member of the team at work.  I know that my adult children love me and we enjoy each others company.  I have a good network of friends that seek me out.  My partner (but not husband) loves me and I revel in our relationship.  Overall, I’m a fairly well-adjusted person, contributing to the lives of those around me, contributing to my society and to the broader Australian community.

The marriage equality debates in the Parliament have had a profound effect on me.  It’s not that I expected a different result. I don’t think there were too many people who thought that there would be any change.  But I did have hope.  It was with eager anticipation that I watched the House of Representative vote on the legislation.  There was always an outside chance I thought, that our elected members would actually do the right thing on this.

I caught up with the speeches in the Senate at the end of each day, watching the senators and reading their words. There were some wonderful supportive thoughts.  But there were also some ugly speeches that showed an underlying contempt for homosexuals and where in some people’s minds gay people belong.  Cory Bernardi’s speech is an example of where his thinking is, and typical of the religious response to marriage equality.  In his speech he links homosexuality with bestiality.  In the bible there is a passage that links homosexuality with bestiality and calls it an abomination and a perversion.  Religion over the years has been unable to see past that.  To the minds of many believers that puts the two issues on the same level.  Bernardi’s attempts to suggest he has been taken out of context is to overlook the basis for his slippery slope argument.  The link has been long-established and religion is to blame.  It’s why they always look like a rabbit caught in the headlights when somebody takes them to task about it.  Just below their surprise you can see the internal cogs slipping as they try to understand why nobody else has read that passage in the bible.

Then there are the detestable words of Senator Boswell that should upset all men and women, regardless of sexuality.

Same-sex marriage says that a mother or a father does not matter to a child—and it does. Two mothers or two fathers cannot raise a child properly. Who takes a boy to football? Who tells him what is right from wrong? What does he do—go along with the two mums? How does he go camping and fishing? Yes, there might be some attempt by one of the mothers to fill in as a father figure but it will not work. It is defying nature. And what about a young girl changing from a teenager into a young woman? Is it fair to say to her, ‘You don’t have a mother; your mother can’t take you shopping’ or to not be able to help her understand how her body is changing? What are we trying to do here? Why are we trying to defy what has been the right thing for hundreds of thousands of years? What suddenly gives us the inspiration to think that we can have gay marriage and it will not affect anyone?

 As I look back at my child-raising days, I’ve been there for my daughter through her changing from ‘a young girl’ and helped her understand how her body works.  I did it without being a woman!
The words of Senator Brandis make me wonder how he lives inside his head:
discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality is always wrong, but it does not follow from that proposition that every institution in society, for that reason, must be redefined.
 On one hand he acknowledges that discrimination is wrong, but on the other it’s ok.
Senator Joyce from Queensland has some very odd views, way outside my level of understanding of conservatism.  He says this in his speech:
 If you want to be married, because of the requirements of nature, it involves a male and a female connection for the hope and possibility of having children. You cannot do it with a male and a male. You cannot do it with a female and a female. It is just not possible. The institution of marriage stands ultimately behind the reality of nature. It does not matter what piece of legislation we pass; you cannot change nature. You cannot change that reality. But what we can do is go down a path of a new form of social engineering—about which we really have no idea of the consequences
 Well, marriage is a human construct, nature has no requirements as such.  Gay couples also enjoy a connection for the hope of having children.  And yes, two men or two women can have children, it’s true that they can’t physically conceive them as a couple, but they can and they do have children.  Always have, and will continue to find ways to do it.  Marriage has nothing to do with nature and everything to do with humans setting their own rules.  It’s our rule.  His underlying notion is that to allow gay people to have a family would mean that every family would have to have same-sex parents at its head.  What a crock.  Nothing changes as the Australian society already has same-sex couples raising children in marriage like families.  It’s a reality, and last time I checked, reality was not on the blink.

I didn’t see the Senate vote, but I did watch the vote in the House of Reps.  It’s not every day you see Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard vote together.  I was stunned to see most of the Labor Party stand up and move to the other side of the chamber to vote with the Liberal Party to stop this bill.  Despite the Labor Party having a party platform that is in support of marriage equality, most of them crossed the floor and voted with the Liberal Party.

The image of Julia Gillard and most of her cabinet sitting there with the Opposition, smiling and talking, laughing will stick with me. Here I am watching my Parliament take a decision about my rights as a human and they are laughing.  It seem to lack any sort of dignity.  It was simply another function to perform without any real understanding of the impact that it would have on the people who it affects.

All the words of support and the standing up for us against the likes of Jensen, the ACL and Senator Bernadi are wiped away in a few minutes.   All the talk about stopping discrimination and accepting gay people vanish.

The majority rules.  They’re happy that they’ve done what they can, passed 80 odd bits of legislation to correct some discrimination, you know, stuff around property rights, medical rights, financial rights. Purely functional things. But they can’t vote in favour of the most fundamental right, that of love.  That of marriage.

It’s been a couple of sad days.

I feel gutted, cheated and demoralised.  I mean that.

I am determined and I won’t give up.

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Aug 15

Yesterday I wrote about the Prime Minister – Julia Gillard, being the keynote speaker at the upcoming Australian Christian Lobby Annual Conference.  At the end of the post I listed other blogs and media outlets that have covered the story.

To be clear.  I think it’s wrong of the PM to address the ACL.  To me its counter intuitive and seems to be at odds with her atheism.  That’s just what I think.  I also think the PM is a free agent and able to do as she pleases, and I would not stop her from doing that.  Nor do I think the ACL should be told to shut up.  As nice as that would be.

Despite Australia having no protections to free speech as such, I see it as vitally important.  The ACL have an outrageous and outdated opinion about marriage and families that doesn’t reflect the reality of the real world.  Once you strip away all the reasons for their objection you’re left with the key reason for their objection.

The bible says that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination.  It calls for gay people to be killed.  It does.  Go read it.

Apparently in 2012 it’s ok for people to still hold those views.  In Australia we don’t do the killing bit any more, but Christians believe it’s their right to tell me how to live based on their holy text.  Mind you, I reject that text outright.  As far as I can tell it holds no authority nor should it.  This is clearly demonstrated by secular laws that are passed without regards to religious doctrine.  (Think about slavery, death for adultery, divorce)

The ACL claim free speech to be able to say what they want.  Well, that works both ways.  I have the right to disagree with them, and I’m quite prepared to say so.  I also think the ACL is not representative of Christians at all.   They are a small organisation that makes a lot of noise.  It’s funded by a few people.  Doug Pollard did an excellent series of articles following the money – visit his site and search for ACL.

Yesterdays revelations that Gillard is speaking at the ACL attracted a lot of criticisms from gay people and the gay press. Jim Wallace at the ACL has responded to that criticism – I’d like to look at that.

The Australian Christian Lobby is privileged to have the Prime Minister speak at its National Conference but has expressed disappointment at the ongoing campaign of demonisation from the homosexual lobby of anyone who does not line up with its agenda.

Demonisation is such a strong word, and speaking personally I find the way that the ACL expresses it’s opposition to my life as demonising. Wallace, the ACL and the Prime Minister are being criticised.  That’s fair.  As it’s also fair to criticise the ACL’s agenda.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace rejected suggestions that the Prime Minister should not participate in the conference on Saturday the 6th of October and said it was natural that she would want to speak to Australia’s Christian constituency, which is a large one by any political standards.

The ACL does not represent the Australian Christian constituency, it represent a very small band of ultra orthodox Christians.  While overall there are a lot of people who profess to be Christians, very few of them would agree with the ACL.  It’s disingenuous of the ACL to overstate its reach.

“The Prime Minister’s engagement is part of the political process and Australian Christians represented in the community should have a right to expect that the PM would want to address them,” Mr Wallace said.

Sure, that’s right.  To be fair, the PM should also have headed along to the Global Atheist  Convention to give the keynote speech, but she didn’t.  Atheists are also a sizeable constituency that should have been addressed by the PM.  Check out the media release from David Nicholls at Atheist Foundation of Australia .  The release is called ‘Pandering to Stupidity’:

It is deplorable that the Labor Party should be pandering to any religion at all, especially to such an anachronistic and fundamentalist branch of Christianity, one that has no relevance in a modern and enlightened society.

Back to Wallace from the ACL:

Mr Wallace also rejected suggestions that the ACL has not advocated for eradication of poverty or homelessness.

“The ACL is on the record for supporting mandatory pre-commitment technology for pokie machines, refugee reform and meeting the millennium development goals which help address these issues in public policy,” he said.

Yes, it’s true the ACL does advocate those things, but it’s obsessed with trying to prevent marriage equality for everyone.  This was well and truly highlighted in this blog back in June.

Overwhelmingly, the ACL was preoccupied with gay people. It’s not quite half of their total output, at 44%, but considering that Jesus had exactly zero to say about homosexuality, it doesn’t look very good, no matter how the ACL might try to rationalise this discrepancy.

The ACL is a public lobby group.  They are out there with their opinions.  As hard as Wallace and his state directors mince their words so that they don’t say anything negative about ‘the gays’ the reality is that they are demonising us.

The ACL is entitled to do what it does, I disagree with them and will continue to strike out against their insanity.  But I would never dream of silencing them, as appealing as that is.

In a democracy that’s how it works.  But pushing out a press release such as this latest one from the ACL is akin to being like a toddler, putting your thumb in your mouth, stamping your widdle feet and crying “It’s not fair!  The Gays are picking on me!”

 

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Aug 14

The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, no doubt has one of the toughest jobs in the country.  She preside over a minority government, which I’m sure is very difficult.

Julia says a little prayer

Gillard is an atheist.  She thinks that the bible is a myth but says it contains some important stories for us.

Gillard is unmarried. She thinks that marriage is between one man and one woman, as the christians believe.

Gillard is the keynote speaker at this years Australian Christian Lobby Annual Conference.

The ACL have described their annual get together as “Building a Nation of Character: Religious Freedom in a Secular Democracy”

I’ve checked the Prime Minister’s diary to see if she makes it a habit to speak to hate groups.

You can find the PM’s Public Schedule on her website here http://www.pm.gov.au/your-pm/public-schedule?week=30.  To see every week since the start of the year change the week=30 to week=1 and work your way through.  I’ve collated it as a PDF file here for you..

While Gillard gives lots of speeches and makes lots of visits she doesn’t really appear to do anything too controversial.    In fact, I can’t see where she has met with any gay rights lobby.  I can’t see her attendance at any gay event.  She’s happy to visit schools, factories and attend the local footy club matches.  She doesn’t make too many speeches to lobby groups, in fact her diary is very carefully managed and quite often ties in with current government initiatives.

Just today the annual National Day for Marriage Rally was held in Canberra.  The event is fully supported by the ACL (here’s their media release), at the rally today, one of the speakers had this to say:

homosexuals (re)produces themselves by molesting children

The ACL want us to tone down the rhetoric and not call people who support marriage as between one man and one woman homophobes, but here again is the outlandish falsehoods about gay people, spoken at an event that is fully endorsed by the ACL.

The Prime Minister of Australia is their keynote speaker, she has agreed to address the ACL.  This gives them an air of authority.  As if they are something special.

Gillard avoids gay people.  She brushes our concerns aside, will not entertain any notion of equality for us.  We are not given a second thought.

The ACL have a long history of intolerance to gay people.  They continually misrepresent the truth.  Have a look at just some of the tweets they’ve sent here

This is a deeply offensive action from her.  It seems to be a clear attempt to woo the Christian vote.  She will tell them what they want to hear.

It seems to me the PM is more interested in chasing a few votes than defending and supporting those who are victimised for no other reason than their sexuality.  If Gillard had any decency at all she would withdraw from the conference and call on the ACL to treat all citizens of Australia equally.


Other stories:

Michael’s Blog

The Australian

Australian Marriage Equality

Shellity – There should be a sign

Godless Business

Star Observer

SameSame

Gay News Network

Flourish & Bloggs

The Punch

Found a story in another place?  Send it to me and I’ll add it to the list.

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Jun 07

Well, now I’m all worked up.

This morning I got home from the gym, and over a cup of coffee I watched Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby and Kerryn Phelps, a gay rights activist have a debate on Seven’s Sunrise.

You can see it here:

During the debate Wallace begins to make a statement to compare the marriage equality movement to the Nazis of WWII, he says this:

I would like to just say that I think this whole campaign would do great credit to Joseph Goebbels, because what we’ve had, we’ve had the demonisation

To his credit, Kosh, Seven’s Sunrise presenter, prevents him from continuing that line of thought.  But it’s too late, the words have been released and we get a glimpse at the true thoughts of an organisation the purports to show true christian values.

It’s easy to say that I shouldn’t get upset by these comments.  However, the demonisation of gay people continues unabated in this country because the likes of Wallace are permitted to continue to speak out in such a reprehensible way.  That’s not to say that I think he or the ACL should be gagged.  However, the ACL does not represent all christians, in fact they probably represent very few christians.  The media continue to call upon them as though they represent the whole of christianity in Australia.  It’s near impossible to find out just how much support they have.  In these days of modern communication everyone can pretend to be a big organisation with hundreds of thousands of supporters.

The media make Wallace the ‘go to person’ for comment on these matters, it reminds me of how they always asked for Bruce Ruxton’s opinion.  You are always sure to upset people and drive your audience up.  However, the ACL deserve as much media attention as the likes of Muehlenberg or Nalliah.  That is, very little.

And it’s not just him.

Today Bob Katter on “The Circle” on Ten said that the whole issue of marriage equality was irrelevant, this is despite just 39% of his electorate being against marriage equality.  He said that in his 39 years in Parliament only one person had raised the issue with him, he seems to have forgotten the 70 people who protested outside his Mt Isa office last year.

It also seems to have slipped his mind that he didn’t think it was that irrelevant when he stood up before a bunch of christians at Parliament house in August 2011 and said that equality should be ridiculed.

I’ve always known about the Jews and how they were killed during World War II.  Until very recently, I didn’t know any Jews.  Now through Michael I have a much better understanding of what the Holocaust means.  The impact of it is still felt all these years later.   I’ve sat with my partner and read articles and felt his repulsion when the Nazi tag is applied.  I’ve seen how visibly upset and emotional he becomes when we see a movie about the Holocaust.  It’s real.  I can see it, I don’t fully comprehend, but I know.

extreme disappointment and dismay

Is Michael’s rather timid response on the Aleph website.

His personal Facebook pages says this:

Absolutely shattered by the news that Jim Wallace invoked Joseph Goebbels on Sunrise this morning. This is about love and marriage. We are not trying to kill anyone.

To read those words is cutting.  It breaks me up.  I don’t want to see anyone feel such a level of emotional discomfort, and while I can say all the right words, I can not change history.  I can’t change what has happened to all those gay and Jewish people killed for no good reason at the hand of Hitler and Goebbels.

This is sickening beyond belief.  For me, I struggle every time I read another news story that suggest that I’m evil, that I’m a pervert, that I’m not a good parent, all because I’m gay.  As I’ve said so many times, I am resilient.  Michael is also resilient.  He draws from a strength that I’ve seen him use to get himself through some of the most trying times in his ongoing battle with the Jewish establishment.  Others are not so lucky.

It’s for those others that I say to the likes of Wallace and Katter.  Enough is enough.  We are human, we hurt.

Express your point of view, but if your reason for objection is because you think I’m evil, or that Michael or myself are like a Nazi, then you’ve got a serious issue that needs checking.

Go get it checked.

 

 

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Jan 16

Most of us are pretty unaware of discrimination against other people.  Unless the discrimination personally affects us we generally don’t notice.

Much has been done to reduce discrimination against people who are disabled and against our indigenous people.  These are two fairly common areas that our society has worked hard in trying to ensure equality exist.1

It comes as no surprise that I feel discriminated against in several ways.  I find that this discrimination is led mostly by religious people who use their religion to claim a special right to say discrimination is ok.

I’m not asking for special consideration, I’m simply asking that I am treated the same as everyone else.  Instantly this places me in a dilemma.  The churches will say that being gay is a sin against their god.  They’ll also say that because of this moral objection, the church should not be forced to interact in anyway with people who are gay.  They get away with it, and if I so much as say that I think that’s wrong then it’s me that is told I’m evil and that I don’t respect their view.

Well, on that one they’re right, I don’t respect their view.  That’s my judgement call.  Sure, have your views, but don’t try and tell me that they are somehow sacred and can’t be changed.  I’m not buying that for a minute.

But religions want it both ways, they want the government to legislate to protect them against gay people.  There are plenty of examples of how governments will make sure that equal rights legislation will cover the rights of indigenous people, the rights of the disabled and the rights of women.  Here in our very own state, the new Liberal government was barely in power for a week before repealing legislation allowing religious organisations to fire someone simply because of their sexuality.

The whole issue of marriage equality is a classical example.  Religious types are all up in arms that if allowed, the world will end.  The pope even said so.

Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself

When he says family, he means a man, a woman and as many children as possible. He wants there to only be one type of family, his ideal.  The man, in the dress, with red shoes and a smart hat wants to ensure that governments the world over do not legislate for marriage equality.

He’s very shy on the reasons why.  What makes it even worse is that he doesn’t care about the fact that there are many different types of families now.  A lot of them are not based on the man, woman and children model.  Allowing marriage equality isn’t going to change the way families actually form.

It’s not just the christians who strive to enshrine discrimination based on gender and equality.  It’s the jews and muslims too.

While the jewish community does a little to support the rights of gay people, there is much to be done.  For example, the JCCV in Victoria published this media release that included the line:

Rabbi Rapoport contends that the GLBT community must accept that they cannot become official members of the JCCV as this would fracture the Jewish community. However, the JCCV has a responsibility as the roof body to what it can do for the GLBT community within this restriction.

I’m willing to say that the rabbi was only giving his opinion, but for the JCCV to then actually publish that is a slap in the face to all people who are gay and jewish.  It’s just another form of discrimination.

The orthodox rabbis also have problems with gay people.  A letter to the Australian in late 2011 included this terrific idea:

This is not intended to show any discrimination against the gay community, but simply to uphold the sanctity and purpose of marriage…
We call upon Australians to stand opposed to any attempt, whether judicial, legislative or religious in nature, to bestow the sanctity of marriage upon same-sex couples.

If it quacks like a duck.

Margaret Court is a minister in the church she founded in Western Australia, she had this to say about marriage equality:

They are not perfect (marriage between one man and one woman), often dysfunctional and despite the fact the role models may be distorted and even severely flawed, there is no reason to put forward alternative, unhealthy, unnatural unions as some form of substitute (marriage between people of the same gender),” she said. “No amount of legislation or political point-scoring can ever take out of the human heart the knowledge that in the beginning God created them male and female and provided each with a unique sexual function to bring forth new life.

When she says alternative, unhealthy and unnatural unions, she’s talking about me and my relationship.  I find that pretty disgusting.  Elsewhere you’ll find how this sort of talk encourages homophobia and contributes to mental health issues and even suicide.

There are some who have been so disgusted by the comments of Court that they plan to make a show of it at the Australian Open by displaying the rainbow flag.  Some are even calling for the court named in her honour to be renamed.  For this bold action of responding to her complete disrespect of me and Michael, the Australian Christian Lobby responds with this:

“Kerryn Phelps has said gays are sick of being punching bags, but who is doing the punching here and look at who they have chosen as a target”
That activists could be calling for Margaret Court’s name to be removed from the stadium that rightly honours her is unbelievable, and typifies the selfishness of an agenda that pays no regard to the feelings or reputation of anyone else, not even a national icon

“Pays no regards for the feelings or reputation of anyone else?”  Therein likes the key to all of this.  I’m vilified and discriminated against, but I have to accept it because it comes from the mouth of a religious person.  A religion that I have no interest in.  I’m expected to allow her the right to say these things about me because it’s her right.  This is religion wanting it both ways.

Suggest that the religious ritual slaughter of animals in Australia should be stopped and before you get to the end of the sentence you’ll have organisations like the ECAJ jumping on you to tell you that what they do is really ok, and that the animals don’t suffer.  To deny them their right to eat meat that has been ritually killed would be discrimination against their beliefs.

Try suggesting that perhaps on a Saturday certain jews could push the button on the lights to cross a busy road rather than spend thousands and thousands of dollars on implementing a new system and you’ll have the JCCV jumping up and down because you’re not respecting their human rights to follow their religion.

Yet, here I sit, having my rights trampled on.  I’m not asking for anything special.  I just want the pope to stop calling me a threat to humanity.  I want the rabbis to understand that my family is not a threat to society, I want the christians like Court to refrain from referring to me as unhealthy, and I want organisations like the ACL to get off their high horse of claiming victim status anytime somebody take exception to christian bigotry.

The likes of the ECAJ, the JCCV and the ACL are outwardly happy to discriminate against people who they deem as unhealthy or unworthy of full acceptance into their communities.  They fight with all their might to continue to exclude the likes of me from things like marriage.  On the other hand, they cry loudly, they stamp their feet and scream about bigotry if any one at all should so much as suggest that perhaps their self-righteous claims to special treatment is antiquated and wrong.  They feel discriminated against, while all the time continually discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people.

The ACL is a lost cause, their bigotry knows no bounds.  The ECAJ and the JCCV have come a long way, but still we are yet to hear them fully support the GLBTI people in their community.  We are still yet to hear support from them in the area of marriage equality.  The ECAJ says that it:

REAFFIRMS our profound commitment on behalf of the Australian Jewish community to the dignity of difference, gender equality, and a belief in the equality of humankind;

Profound commitment to equality? But there is not any mention of support for marriage equality on their website.

While they are busying talking about killing cows and having automated traffic lights, people in their community are suffering from the anguish of how to deal with their gender identity or sexual orientation.  The focus is on the wrong thing.  The bigotry within must be stopped before the bigotry without can be dealt with.

Every time someone like Court vilifies me I feel it.  Every time the christian lobby says I’m selfish and have no regard for other people, I feel it.  Every time the JCCV lets another orthodox jew call my sexuality an abomination I feel it.  Every time the EJAC refuses to call those same member rabbis to account I feel it.

I really do.  I feel it.  And it hurts.

However, I have support systems around me, that helps me cope with the continuing barrage of hatred and disrespect that is thrown my way on a daily basis.  What about those who don’t?

 

 

  1.  Update:  I made a mistake in using the indigenous people, and those that are disabled as an example here.  Clearly both sections of our community continue to endure discrimination.  It’s also pretty clear that my first statement is true, unless the discrimination personally affects me, I may not see it.  Sorry to those that I upset, and thank you to Ericka
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