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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May 16

This Friday, May 17th is IDAHO, changing to IDAHOBIT, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.  Established in 2004 IDAHO aims to raise awareness about homophobia.  In almost 80 countries around the world, loving someone of the same-sex is still considered illegal, at times involving lifetime imprisonment and, in nine countries, it is even punishable by death!  When I think about that I think how lucky I am that I live in a country where being discriminated against means I can’t get married or if I worked for a church I might get fired.

Homophobia comes in all shapes and sizes and while it may mean a fear of homosexuals the reality is that homophobia is used to cover so much more these days.  It’s more about how people react and behave in relation to others sexuality and if that reaction is negative then the use of the word seems appropriate.  Julia Gillard is a really good example, she isn’t really scared of gay people, but her stance on marriage equality means she’s labelled a homophobe.  I think that’s fitting.

Much work is being done by No to Homophobia in Victoria and their website is worth a visit.

Homophobia can also happen when people are completely unaware of your sexuality, as I came to grapple with who I was I was acutely aware of the attitudes of those around me.

I started working in 1999 at a non-profit counselling agency. Not that long ago all things considered. When I started there I was still pretending to be a happy heterosexual.  I had started on my journey to embracing my sexuality and it was slow and at times very painful.

IDAHO-rr_tcm7-115931The Agency was very welcoming, I wasn’t ‘out at work’ but I was working towards being honest with those around me.  There was no outward homophobia within the Agency.  That’s a good thing. There was however plenty of little things that to someone struggling with their sexuality can be quite confronting.  And it’s the small things that made me squirm.  There was the payroll joke about Michael Fitzpatrick something along the lines of “Must be gay, Michael Fitzpartick and Patrick Fitzmichael” or when I won a competition of a weekends accommodation.  It was known I was single and people teasingly asked who the lucky lady would be.

As I began to get more comfortable in my relationships and started dating I had a few boyfriends, looking for Mr. Right.  I had to keep track in my mind about whom I had told about my sexuality and who I hadn’t.  It was always a decision to make about whether or not to share it with someone.  In my mind I imagined some people would reject me, I don’t like to feel rejected.  When I bought a footy hat from the Op Shop, it was well-known that I wasn’t a fan and when I said it was for my partner I surprised the fellow staff member who asked what her name was.  At times I’d use gender neutral language “My partner and I went away for the weekend” instead of “My partner, Michael”.  Using this language at times makes it really difficult to maintain conversations.  “Oh, did she like it?” to which the response is “Well, yes, my partner did like it”.  Just sounds crazy!

Then there is the expectation that everyone you know is a heterosexual, this for me was compounded because I was married and I had children.  People would often say things like “You don’t bat for the other side” or even worse when I finally do say “I’m gay” the response is “No you’re not”

Times have changed, over the years I’ve become more confident and able to talk about my relationship.  Now I make the assumption that everyone knows.  (Apologies to those who just went – “He’s gay?”)

My point here is that I was struggling to come to terms with a new world with a new me.  It was really stressful.  It takes a lot of energy to contain and hide yourself.

It wasn’t that work had an entrenched homophobia.  In fact, it was and is very diverse.  This was my personal struggle.

Imagine how hard it is to come to terms with something as innate as your sexuality when those around you are making assumptions that you’re a heterosexual.  It’s not intentional and even I have to challenge my perceptions about people, because underneath you just don’t know how life is for someone else or what their life is like away from your limited interactions.

For me, the Agency has been a safe haven.  Jo the CEO was quick to twig that things were happening and showed her support and quietly helped in her own way by making sure that things like our code of ethics included mentions of sexual orientation and would deflect people’s questions such as the weekends accommodation by saying “I don’t think we need to ask if he’s taking anyone”.

 If you’re looking for the impact you have on people, here it is.  I remember conversations about sexuality.  I have lots of conversations every day and hardly recall most of them.  But I do remember every single conversation about sexuality I’ve had with people in my ‘pre-out days’.  I think I remember them because they didn’t sit well with me and made me uncomfortable.  I remember the slurs and jokes, the assumptions and the denials.

Words matter.  But, I guess you already knew that.

 

 

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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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Mar 28

Tonight, on the television, Michael and I got married.

On the TV.  It’s not real.  There’s no legal standing.  I wrote about the TV Show, Adam Hills – In Gordon Street Tonight here.

The response from those around me has been simply amazing.  The amount of happiness and love thrown towards us, and all those with us that got married tonight, has simply been staggering and just a little bit humbling.  (It’s ok, ego still in tact)

Michael and GregoryAt the outset, let me say that I would marry Michael in a heartbeat.  He is the man I want to be with, the man I love and the man I want to share my life with.  I consider myself married already, in my heart I feel a bond that I honour, I really don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m not married, nor do I need anyone to give me their approval.  I simply want the opportunity to express my love for Michael, to show my commitment in anyway we feel best suits us.  Marriage Equality is denied to us for no good reason.

I went into this TV gay marriage thing because I have a point to make.  I’m simply not allowed to have a formal legal recognition to my relationship with Michael.  A relationship that is real, tangible and valid, just like those couples that can get married.

The outpouring of support and emotion that I’ve experienced in the last few weeks makes it pretty clear to me that there is much support. People see the value in allowing marriage equality.  Even though I explain to people that this is a mock wedding, they still see it as something that is desirable, worthy and clearly not under any threat simply because I want to join the ranks of being married.

Michael and I want the right to get married, who knows whether or not we would.  As it stands at present, we can’t.  That seems grossly unfair.

My thanks to everyone that has offered their support, that has shown me their desire to see marriage equality.  Your words, cards, emails, tweets and Facebook messages are very much gratefully accepted.

To the whole team at the ABC, I thank you.  I’ve felt respected and cared for every step of the way.  You’ve given the whole show a feeling of fun and a laugh, but at the same time showing great care and dignity to all of those couples involved.  Well done.

Before it’s too late, take that support and express it to the Government.  Don’t do it for me, but do it because you see the value in treating all Australians as First Class Citizens.  It’s time to click the link and make a submission about Marriage Equality to the Australian Senate Inquiry. This is important to me and to all those in Australia who wish for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect.

Marriage Equality is important. A huge part of the population is denied something for no good reason. I’m happy to stand up and say ‘if I want to get married, let me get married’. Stop telling me what to do.

The time has come.

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Mar 22

Michael and I have been talking about marriage equality for some time in our own ways on our blogs, facebook, twitter and face to face.  I’ve been doing my little bit since that fateful day in 2004 when John Howard passed through the Australian Parliament legislation that effectively added discrimination to the marriage act.  It was a deliberate and mean spirited step by him and his government, with the support of the Labor Party to stop people of the same sex from getting married.

Re-writing the marriage act has allowed a whole section of our community to use it as a weapon to decry any attempts to change the law.  It has lead to an increase in intolerance of people of different sexual orientation and identity.  It has lead to an increase in homophobia.

Gregory and MichaelIt would seem to me that the change to the marriage act has had a knock on effect that has rippled its way through our society.  When I hear the cry of those words that Howard inserted “Marriage is between one man and one woman” I cringe.  It’s a phrase that is so thrown around now as if everything that follows it is fully justified.  Few people continue the phrase with “entered into for life to the exclusion of all others” because nobody takes those words seriously.  We all know that we can get a divorce or even have an affair.  (Not that I’m suggesting that’s the case for everyone, I have several people I look at that have been in long term marriages/relationships for decades, I admire them)

For Michael and me it’s not so much about getting married.  It’s about being treated equally.  Michael is acutely  aware of the impact of homophobia to those kids less able to reach out in the orthodox Jewish communities.  He has long championed the cause of those unable to speak out.  Not because he’s directly affected by the intolerance and the hatred, but because he cares.  Deeply.  It is one of those qualities that I admire greatly in my partner and fully support him.

All around the world, homosexuals, transgendered, intersex and bisexuals are discriminated against.  In Australia we have it fairly good by world standards.  When you look at certain nations in Africa, Russia and in the US, it’s clear that there is much work to be done.  In some places not only can you get locked up for being gay, but you could be executed.  In some places, religion is used as a weapon to justify such actions.

Michael and I decided to participate in Adam Hills – In Gordon Street Tonight Big Gay Wedding.  It’s our way of standing up and being counted in a very public way.  I still find it ludicrous in Australia that marriage equality is still an issue.  (There’s two videos below to watch if you like)

I’ve let people know that’s what I’m doing.  I’ve shared it with my family, my friends and at work.  I’ve had plenty of great responses from people, including this one from one of my sisters children (my two nieces)

They were both incredulous at the thought of being told you can’t marry someone …”What do you mean people don’t think men should marry men?! That makes no sense at all!”

And this one from a Facebook friend, Jim Best on the group called Straights with Mates:

Time on the other hand will be your friend as 1. Oldies, who just can’t come to terms with the concept, die off and get replaced by the likes of your nieces, and 2. Blokes like me who probably would have scoffed at the idea five years ago, become more understanding and accepting.

It’s good to see this shift.

The Human Rights Council at the United Nations recently meet to discuss “Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” and the UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon addressed them.

His speech is moving and important.  He says

To those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, let me say:
You are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle.
Any attack on you is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold.
Today, I stand with you … and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you, too….
A historic shift is under way. More States see the gravity of the problem….
Tackle the violence… decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships… ban discrimination… and educate the public…

I count on this Council and all people of conscience to make this happen.

The time has come.

Indeed the time has come.  Read the full transcript or watch the video

There’s a challenge in his words for Australians:

Tackle the violence… decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships… ban discrimination… and educate the public.

The time has come to consider the reasons for the ongoing discrimination in Australian society.  It’s time to lift that discrimination.

When I watch this piece from Greys Anatomy

It makes me think of how unjust the world is towards same-sex attracted people.  If you want to know why marriage equality is important, it’s in this little bit of drama from the TV.  It sums it up so well.  The value of the love between two gay men is undermined by a society that frowns up it.  When they need each other, they are kept apart.

My relationship with Michael is one of the greatest things to happen in my life.  We have a wonderful life together and I crave to share my world with him.  My relationship with him does not affect anyone else, it doesn’t change the world.  In fact it makes the world a better place, because two more of its citizens are happy, not only that but a stable relationship helps both of us in our dealings with other people.  We know we have the support of each other and stability helps my children as they have a happy father, and brings peace of mind to Michael’s parents and family as we are in a loving relationship.

Marriage equality is needed, discrimination causes great harm, it’s easy to fix.  Let’s fix it.

The time has come.


Michael and me on Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight.

 

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Feb 10

I have a long history with Scouting.  I stopped being a leader when I became a single parent, it was just too hard to manage two children, baby sitters and the dedication to the various meetings that demanded my time.

I think Scouting has some grand ideals.  The Aims and Principals are pretty much the same as in my day.  Here’s the current version:

The Aim of Scouting is to encourage the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual development of young people so that they take a constructive place in society as a member of their local, national and international community.

I think that’s very noble. (Clearly I have an issue about the spiritual development nowadays)  In this day and age the movement has added a bunch of values.  Let me pick a few out for you.

  • The importance of individuals developing a sense of personal identity and self-worth which leads to responsibility for oneself and one’s actions as a citizen.
  • The importance of not exposing young people to harm or exploitation.
  • The importance of respect for and equity in dealings with all people, irrespective of culture, gender, religion or impairment.
  • The importance of mutual support and help between members of a community to maximise the quality of life for all.
  • The importance of the development of understanding between individuals as a contribution to peace between nations.

Again, all very noble.  I’m delighted to see such a solid set of values.  Be sure to check out the whole Mission, Aims and Principals on their website.

Tonight I was doing the social media thing, checking Facebook, when I saw a friend comment on this Facebook post from Scouts Australia NSW.

The Salvos I have a real issue with.

Read their Position Statement on Human Sexuality.  Here’s a few of the key sentences.

  •  It is The Salvation Army’s belief that, whilst recognising the possibility of such orientation, (the origins of which are uncertain), the Bible expressly opposes homosexual practice, seeing such activity as rebellion against God’s plan for the created order.
  • The Bible teaches that God’s intention for humankind is that society should be ordered on the basis of lifelong, legally sanctioned heterosexual unions.
  • We firmly believe that obedience to God together with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, make it possible for all to live a lifestyle pleasing to Him. This may include celibacy or self restraint for those who will not or cannot marry.
  • Homosexual practice however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will.

This is on their Australian website.  This is the position of the Salvation Army in Australia.

Scouts Australia have offered their support to the Salvation Army, an organisation that is clearly at odds with the values of the Scouts.  How can Scouts Australia reconcile their value of respect for all, when the Salvos have a clear negative policy on homosexuality.  The Salvos actually say that being gay is a choice.

The Scouts help young people in all sorts of ways, their open acceptance of everyone (apart from atheist perhaps) is a credit to a great volunteer movement.  How sad it is that they have sided with another organisation that continues to maintain the sexuality is a choice and that if you are gay you must remain celibate.

This is the wrong message for Scouts Australia to be connected to.

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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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