Jan 31

I’ve spent the last 10 years reading widely the thoughts on what the christian right has to say about homosexuality, discrimination, marriage equality and the way they think the world should be.  Last year I pulled back, I unsubscribed from various blogs and newsletters and turned my back on the intolerance and hatred coming from those that would dearly love to return to the basic tenets of their religion, where they were right, homosexuals should be stoned to death and women are nothing more than their personal servants.  I can’t say I’ve missed them.

consequencesEvery now and then I like to check in, as I did with Lyle Shelton the head priest at the Australian Christian Lobby.  He does this sort of pretend radio spot and puts it up on the website, so I had a listen, as he was talking to David Van Gend, a bloke who thinks he has authority because he’s catholic and a doctor.

I’ve written about Shelton and Van Gend before.

I love to flex my mind and listen to their reasons why I shouldn’t be allowed to get married, here I’m unpacking some of what they have to say.   You’ll find the full audio and transcript linked at the bottom.

The blog is pretty long, sorry about that.

We start with Lyle doing the intro.

Ever since the Greens member from Melbourne Adam Bandt stood up in the Federal Parliament in December 2010 and moved a motion that MPs consult with their constituents about changing the definition of marriage. The so called gay marriage debate has been on in earnest.

It’s been happening since the Australian Government changed the marriage act in 2004, and it has been earnest, that bit is right.

It’s been five long years as a small minority of activist urged by a willing media have kept this issue alive in the public square and in politics, despite opinion polls seemingly showing majority support for the idea of changing the definition of marriage. The polls also show it’s a very low order issue with voters. It is well down the list of people’s priorities that they think politician should be focusing on.

By defining the group agitating for change as a ‘small minority’ is to suggest that because it’s a small group it’s unimportant, put that in with the idea that people think there are more important things to worry about is saying just how unimportant the whole debate is.  The easy answer is then to simply change it as most people think the change should happen, gets it off the table to focus on more important things.  It’s also important to remember that Lyle thinks that he his being denied his right to free speech, somehow the small minority is the only voice that is being heard by the willing media.

We should also note that the Australian Christian Lobby is a small minority, he is suggesting that they are somehow significant.

The same-sex political juggernaut has seemingly been unstoppable

Oh good, a small minority that is a political juggernaut!  Such power that doesn’t seem to have been successful yet.

…last week in London the same-sex political agenda suffered a significant setback. Anglican Primates from around the globe met to consider the issue because leaders of their church in the United States and Canada have accepted same-sex marriage in defiance of the bible’s teaching. Instead of endorsing the North American’s capitulation to the culture, the 27 of the 36 voting Primates voted to actually censure the North American Church for straying from Christian teaching on marriage.

Perhaps he could define how this is significant.  The anglicans did just what they are supposed to do.  Play by the rules of their religion.  You’ll note that this ‘significant setback’ has not got the United States or Canada governments rushing legislation through to comply with the Anglican Primates biblical teaching.  Nothing has changed really, just a bunch of men (are there any women here today?) in silly hats telling another bunch of men in silly hats that they can’t play with each other for a couple of years.

This is very, very significant. It just goes to show that with courage and conviction this agenda can be turned.

Umm…..

One man who has been showing great courage for many years in this battle is Toowoomba GP and president of the Australian Marriage Forum Doctor David Van Gend. Last year Dr. Van Gend had his doctor surgery spray painted with the word bigot and television advertisements that he produced refused broadcast by the tax payer funded SBS. Dr. Van Gend joins me on the line now, welcome to the program David.

Oh the man is a hero, someone sprayed bigot on his surgery and SBS refused to show his ads on the tele.  Give the man a medal!

Lyle Shelton: David, this meeting of Anglican Primates. I made much of that in that in the introduction because I do think it’s significant that when people stand up, this agenda can be resisted and can be turned around and that’s something you’ve been doing in your work and private capacity as president of the Australian Marriage Forum.

Doctor David Van Gend: I think so because a lot of people understand that there’s something enormous at stake with marriage.

Seriously?  Like what, the end of civilisation perhaps.  Everyone agrees that Ireland is heading towards full destruction, New Zealanders are all turning gay and that the US has found the hand-basket and now slipping on the slope to the pits of hell.

It’s not a religious issue so much with Anglican or with people have every right to weigh in on this.

The anglicans seem to think it’s about what’s in the bible, that sounds like a religious issue.  But Van Gend is right, it’s not a religious issue, it’s a civil issue and people from everywhere are weighing in on it.

It’s about the truth of nature that marriage is a man, woman thing in our culture because it’s a male, female thing in nature.

This is just a nonsense.  There is no marriage in nature, when was the last time you saw a moose priest preside over the marriage of a buck and a doe?  Do they sign their certificate with the horns?  Marriage is a human construct, probably an extension of the males desire to lord it over the woman and be the boss.

It only exists doesn’t it because male, female relations typically have been momentous consequence of creating children and children need the love and protection of a mother and father.

So now it only exists because of children? Before it was a natural thing.  Just a reminder, there is actually nothing momentous about having children.  Have a look around, the whole of our biodiversity rests on our ability to reproduce.  It’s pretty commonplace and happens all the time without marriage.  While we’re talking about love and protection, sadly that’s not actually the case.  This is a fanciful notion that once married you live happily ever after.  We all know the reality of filicide, familicide, mariticide and suicide.

They need the identity and the belonging that goes with being bound to their real mum and dad. That is what marriage achieves. For every child marriage gives them a mum and dad and so-called homosexual marriage makes that impossible. Impossible and that’s the injustice mate.

Mate, listen up, there are plenty of kids out there growing up in families with same-sex parents.  They actually don’t have identity issues.   The injustice is trying to make the world fit your flawed model.  Families are made up of many different types of formations, your ideal is just one of many.  Each have their own merit, none is the best.

Lyle Shelton: Now. This isn’t about being anti any people you just very eloquently said what marriage is and why it’s a justice issue for children

Good Lyle, it’s not about being anti-gay, despite the fact that Van Gend just said gay people can’t really have children.  It’s impossible.

but you’re a doctor and you see people from all walks of life including same-sex attracted people and your advocacy for marriage is not in any way motivated by any animus towards people.

He’s a doctor!  He sees gay people!  He has no animus towards people like me.  Keep that in mind.  The good doctor from Toowoomba sees gay people.  And note this sideways move now, he moves to talking about sexuality and connecting people’s same-sex attraction with marriage.  The two really aren’t connected.

Doctor David Van Gend: I don’t think it’s possible, yeah, I don’t think it’s possible to know especially young gay people but older ones too, I don’t think it’s possible to know them and not just want to put your arm around them and say, “Look, it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.” Something’s happened, something’s happened to put you in a position of, to these patients I see, of considerable suffering and anguish. They don’t know where this attraction came from. They don’t know why they go it, they don’t know what to do with it and a number of them have a conflict between those feelings and their own convictions about what marriage and parenting and family is. This is sets up a terrible tension and I think that tension can be resolved. I think we need to get to a very clear position in Australia. Where gay couples have all the liberties and all the equality of any other couple, any other couples married or defacto that as you know Lyle, they already have all that liberty and called.

Where to even start.  Now the GP is a psychologist, I’d like to see his qualifications. He wants to hug gay people and tell them everything is ok, as if that will somehow help people come to terms with their sexuality.  People like me, he suggests, don’t know where this attraction comes from, but that’s ok, because he has the answers.  It’s because something has happened to put me in this position, therefore it can un-happen.  Oh, and he sees a lot to these patients, a lot!  In Toowoomba!  They have considerable suffering and anguish.  Sounds like they’re all rushing to his surgery because it’s got bigot painted on the outside.  But that’s ok, he can resolve the tension, no doubt by telling you that god loves you. attaching electrodes to your testicles and zapping you with 1,000 volts while showing you pictures of an erect penis.   Oh, and that’s ok, because when you go back to the real world, you’ll be treated like everyone else because you have all the liberties and the equality you’ll ever need, just like real couples.  On one hand we are suffering and in anguish, on the other hand we are treated equally.

Lyle Shelton: That’s right 85 laws were changed in 2008 and state governments have allowed relationship registers. There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples.

You know Lyle, when you tell someone that they can’t do something because of who they are, that’s called discrimination.  You can get married to the partner of your choice (at least, I’m assuming it was a choice), but I can’t.

Doctor David Van Gend: Perfect. That’s it, they have full relationship equality and that is what a liberal society should achieve.

Perfect?  I don’t have full relationship equality.  I can’t get married.

That’s where we’re at but you’ve got to also let children have the one institution in society that exists for them. Marriage exists for children, they’ve build around mother and child.

Rubbish.  Marriage is between two adults, has nothing to do with children.  This is really easy to test, plenty of kids are born without their parents being married, plenty of them live with one parent, plenty with same-sex parents, plenty of them without parents.  Marriage exists because we want it, not because we have kids.

The very word matrimony is broken into two words, mother and the state of. It’s the state of motherhood is matrimony and marriage exist to serve the interest of mother and child. It serves to bind men, feral by nature men to their mate so that both of them can be bound to their child. That’s the whole purpose of it and gay people get this.

Excuse me, I’m not feral.  I don’t need to be bound to a woman to be tamed.  I’m not sure how it works in your part of the world.  And the binding doesn’t work, men and women still have sex outside their marriage, they still have children outside their marriage, and they still break up.

You’re going to listen to Christopher Pearson used to write about marriage needing to be a to man, woman thing, or Dolce & Gabbana, the great fashion gays what they said about it or Doug Mannering, all these other serious principal gay guys who say we got what we want. We got the liberty and benefits that we want. Don’t take marriage away from children, it’s their only structural institutional possession and that’s where we’re at Lyle. We can all get to this point of saying, yes, yes our fellow citizen who are same-sex attracted must have all the liberty and equality of any of us, and they do. Now that is enough do not let them usurp the one child sense of institution that there is and remake it in their own adult centered image. That is an injustice against child and that’s where we draw the line.

Ho hum.  A few gay people don’t want to get married, or have the jesus bug, therefore all gay people should listen to them.  In their minds this also works for chrisitans.  David and Lyle are good mates and christian, therefore the whole world should agree with them because they have jesus and they are right.  Between them they have worked out where to draw the line and you’re not allowed to cross their line because… well because jesus!

Doctor David Van Gend: It breaks all marriages because I was sitting in America couple of months after their definition of marriage was changed. I looked around this restaurant. None of those married men and women, none of them have the same marriage they used to have because marriage has now become purely an adult romantic affair. A relationship between any two adults of any sex was no further meaning than that.

This sort of makes my brain hurt.  It’s a huge assumption to say that everyone in the restaurant is married, and if they are, that they are sitting at the table with their spouse.  So because the US now has marriage equality, people already married don’t have the same marriage as before because same-sex marriages exist?  SMH (that’s shaking my head)  And…. their marriages have now become purely adult romantic affairs!  So before it was what?  A child’s romantic affair?  No romance at all?  Marriage is not romantic?  Well at least us gay guys have put the romance back into marriage, you’ve gotta be happy with that.

What they signed up to is marriage being the vocation of a man and woman given by nature itself to undertake the great task of creating a home, a new family and new generation. That great vocation, that great honorable life task has been degraded into a mere romantic association between any two people.

This is it!  The world is ending!  Straight people lives have been wrecked by two lesbians calling each other wife and setting up  a home and a family and a new generation!  You should see my face right now, I’m simply horrified!  I had no idea that getting married to Michael in New Zealand would change the world so much.  Why didn’t someone stop me?  (I’ll leave the answer hanging…)

So that’s gone but more importantly Lyle, the relationship between all parents and all children is redefined when you change marriage as the great lawyer Margaret Somerville pointed out when Canada brought in gay marriage. They changed all of the legal reference to natural parents and made it legal parents. Now, a natural parent is a fundamental, natural relationship which government has to respect, has to stand back and let natural parenthood prevail but once you abolish natural parents because you got rid of natural marriage. All parents and all children are related by a government definition which the government can damn well change whenever it likes. It’s a legal fiction and no parents and children any longer have a natural relationship. They have a legal fiction for a relationship. Be like profound, you’re playing into the hands of big government. People have no idea …

Adoption.  That’s where the old parents have their rights removed and have them assigned to another parent(s)  You know, the government damn well changed the legal fiction.  The relationship is established by law.  Has nothing to do with nature really.  If want you are saying, Davo, is that every child has a mother and a father, then you are right.   What happens after that, nature doesn’t give a rats arse about.

Doctor David Van Gend: …It was an article in Courier Mail and they had for and against forum. I was asked to write the case against gay marriage and someone else wrote the other one. … this is what I’d said, I’d said, yes, yes, it is discrimination to prohibit the marriage of two men but it is a far worse case of discrimination to allow this and thereby abolish a mother from the life of any child created within that marriage or words that effect….Of course we discriminate against two men by saying they can’t marry because they can’t.

Remember, they told us that there is no discrimination.  Remember that they have no animus towards gay people.  Remember, Michael and I are married, even though he says we can’t.  We have a marriage certificate with both our names on it.

It’s not possible because marriage is by definition a natural institution of male and female

It is possible, nature doesn’t define marriage, humans do.

but more importantly they can’t because that would impose a far worse injustice on children who will be created by surrogacy or adoption or whatever under this new institution not by tragic circumstance law but this kids won’t miss out on their mum because their mum’s died or there’s a divorce. These kids in the future will miss out on their mother because an act of parliament today decreed that they will miss out.

I have two children, neither of them have missed out on their mother or father.  Michael and I will not have children, therefore we can get married.  Or wait, nobody else can have children because Michael and I are married, but if a straight couple do have children one of them must leave so the other can marry a person of the same-sex.  And this is ok, because it’s not tragic.  At least that’s what I think he is saying.

Doctor David Van Gend: Actually Lyle, from a wide reading into the activist literature on gay marriage and gay issue.

He reads widely apparently, he reads activist literature on gay marriage.  Excellent, it’s good to have a well-rounded view.

That’s actually the main objective. Gay thinkers, gay activist don’t really care about gay marriage, they actually despise it.

This is right, however, reading as widely as you do Davey, you surely understand that this is but one of many, many views.

They always have despised marriage. It’s a bourgeois, hetero normative, slightly religious patriarchal repressive thing that cramps your gay style.

I have never despised marriage, I’m gay, I’m an activist.  However, I understand that Julia Gillard, who is a woman, not gay and probably not an activist had some thoughts about marriage and it being repressive.  Perhaps I’m not reading widely enough.

They despise it, they always have but in the mid ‘90s, they realize that there’s this new thing in town called antidiscrimination law

Well no, I think you need to wind it back about 20 years when gay people starting saying stop beating us up, stop putting us in jail.  Stop telling us who to have sex with.

and if you normalise homosexual marriage in law, you have normalise homosexual behaviour in all its manifestations with the force of the law and that gives you two things.

Homosexuality has been normalised as you say.  It’s actually not considered abnormal for people to be not straight.  Remember that he has no animus towards gay people.

It gives you control of the curriculum so that all children with gay marriage bought in. All children must be taught the homosexual behavior is no different to the relationship of their mum and dad. That it is normal and natural and right and if parents disagree to bad it’s the law of the land.

Children must be taught?  The sub-text of this is that he still considers homosexuality unnatural, and something to be ashamed of.   Just below the surface here is that vague notion that gay people are recruiting children to be gay.

You’ve missed your chance, it’s gone and the second thing is they the big stick of antidiscrimination law to beat the churches and other conscientiousness objectors into submission and that is what they are trying to do now but we can resist it now. We will not be able to resist it when gay marriage is the law of the land and they know that and this is why they want it.

And here in lies the real reason, at the end of the interview.  He really doesn’t want gay people telling him what to believe.  He really wants to maintain his right to discriminate against whomever he wants.  He sincerely believes that once gay people are allowed to get married that they will set about dismantling society and force him to get gay married, or something.  While he admits that marriage equality is inevitable, he is attempting to frighten people into thinking that their world will change so much that civilisation itself will come crushing down, and the people who are not currently being discriminated against and those that he bares no animus towards will be fully responsible.

Despite what these two white men with their wealth and privilege say, this is about power and control.  This is about their rank as men, head of the household, rulers of the world.  It’s bad enough that women want to do things other than be mothers and dedicated wives, now they have to contend with same-sex couples wanting to get married.  And when they go back to the basis of this power and privilege – the bible – it says that homosexuality is an abomination, that those that participate in it are worthy of death, women should not be heard, that there is no divorce and children should be seen only.  This is the world they want, where they are the centre of the power, so the small town doctor and the pretend high priest are treated as demi-gods.

PolicitalSpotTranscript-Jan2016

Part 1

Part 2

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Jan 16

Michael and I were interviewed in December by William Brougham about our activism.  I always enjoy an opportunity to express my thoughts about where things are with equal rights and the GLBTI community.

William has a good selection of interviews on his YouTube Channel that is worth working your way through.  Many though provoking topics from a range of people.

Be sure to watch the whole 28 minutes here, for me I think one of the key points is the topic of the day, a plebiscite.  This is Malcolm Turnbull’s deal with the right from the Abbott Regime.  He seems determined to leave Abbott’s ill thought out concept in place at present, I think the whole notion is quite appalling and in the interview I explain why.

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Oct 08

It’s Mental Health week this week.  It seems an opportune moment to press the Publish button on this blog that’s been waiting for a while.

This is from my hand written diary from 1982 and documents the trial I underwent in making the decision to leave school.  Malcolm Fraser was the Prime Minister and What About Me by Moving Pictures was at the top of the charts.

Year 11The entry is written in 1982 about events a year earlier.  I was 17 in 1981, barely coping with my sexuality that I was trying so hard to repress, I don’t mention it directly, but I can see it’s impact in my own words.  I wasn’t letting anyone in to see the real me.  My close friends had left school at the end of Year 10 and Year 11, I was isolated, a few of the students in Year 12 had grown up with me and we’d been through primary and secondary school together – they were my enemies!

It’s clear to me, looking back, that I was struggling with my life, my religion and my sexuality.  I wasn’t in a good place.  The isolation was horrendous and I couldn’t see a way out.  What I didn’t see or understand until some 12 months later is that people really did care, they wanted to help me.  It took an enormous amount of courage for me to reach out and ask for help.

My life did get better.  I have not regretted the decisions I made back then, I’m glad that I went on to bigger and better things.  The adults in my life did want to help me out, they did see my struggles and tried to get me to open up, the real blockage for me was my sexuality.  This internal battle is why I want the world to see the damage that is caused when homophobia isn’t stopped and challenged.  The anguish I went through should not have happened.  It’s hard enough growing up without having an unmentionable and important part of your life that you feel needs to be hidden.

Here’s the entry, I’ve fixed the spelling (apparently I though my peers where piers and I still can’t spell unfortantely without a spell checker) but not changed the wording.

12 Jan 1982

Today I seem to have quite a few entries in the diary – perhaps because I have been neglecting writing things in it.  I think the main reason for this is trying to get motivated.  This attitude seems to be one that is common amongst my peers.  This is I feel is one reason why I failed at having a go at Year 12.  Yet, I, at the moment, don’t regret it.  I often think that had I become motivated in the early stages of ’81 I might have done a lot better than I did, never the less I didn’t, so I have no one else to blame but myself.  My only hope (in fact one of my many hopes) is that I never live to regret my actions.  At the moment this seems unlikely.  As I can’t see into the future it is a hard thing to say it won’t have some repercussions in later life.

School seemed a place that I just didn’t fit.  None of my peers particularly liked me and often was called a poof, suck and many other things.  Such name calling never seemed right to me and I assumed that such things would fizzle out as we (me and my peers) got older and more mature, I think I was kidding myself.1  The name calling continued, perhaps not as much, but it certainly didn’t stop.  I returned to school in Feb. 81 feeling perhaps just a little frightened, like a child and his first day at school, I think I was more frightened of attempting H.S.C., and of course the reaction of my peers2 who I though might have grown up.  They had a bit, at least the name calling had perhaps stopped a bit.  But NO-ONE bothered to talk to me, unless I spoke to them first, even then a conversation was brief and abrupt.  Then again I didn’t really try to become overly involved with my peers. (As you can see there seems to be contradictions in this entry.  Yet it really was like this – Here are even more contradictions).  But I did try very hard to become a bit more involved in school activities.  I was a quiet sort of force behind the Social Services, in starting that.  I was involved in the school newspaper “The Dolphin” in which I wrote some news and so on.  Never the less this didn’t seem to me to be enough to keep me interested in the academic side of school.

The Year 12 retreat3 proved to be a very interesting one.4  I stopped and reflected on my life and what I was doing.5  I think that perhaps I then made a decision to leave school.  The next thing to do was to get enough courage to make a move as there was so much to consider before I made such a decision.  Meanwhile things at school were still pretty useless.  I had enrolled in correspondence school to do music, a subject I enjoyed and one that I looked forward to.  Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, along the line ballsed the whole thing up.  So when my papers did come through I was about five weeks behind.  Trying desperately to catch up, my other school work seemed to be falling behind, as I was more interested in Music.  Finally the pressures of school caught up with me, and depression soon came.  I couldn’t keep up with my fellow students, as I became more and more depressed I began to think about leaving school, a thought which had been on the back of my mind since the start of the year.  I started to miss morning classes because I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I was frightened, (then again I really didn’t try to make an effort) frightened of school because I was behind, frightened of my peers for their harassment.6  I really did become more and more depressed, and I believe that I was on the verge of suicide, something that nobody else could even see, I myself couldn’t see what was happening, and I did want so much to reach out and talk to someone, but the courage to do so was never there so I just closed myself off…. to think.

I lay awake many nights just thinking about what I was going to do, and then finally I set a date to leave school.7  Friday April 3rd 1981 – I wrote in my pocket diary – “THE END – ON THIS DAY I HOPE TO LEAVE SCHOOL FOREVER”

I have no idea when I set that date, but I did, and I missed it.  It was another week before I left school.  Why?  Perhaps I, again, didn’t have the courage, perhaps I wanted another chance, perhaps I was confused about what I wanted or perhaps I don’t know.  Never the less I did try and hack it for another week but to no avail, so on Friday April tenth 1981 (exactly seven days after) I went to school to say to the Studies Master “I no longer wish to continue my education” (That’s a quote!)  So Mr. Shaw (my Studies Master) talked to me about it, and finally agreed that he believed I was doing the best thing, which made me feel a whole lot better.  I then realised that there really are people who care, and people who are willing to help.  The trouble was to find the right person.  Mr. Shaw helped me a lot that day.8  He rang the Commonwealth Employment Service and made an appointment for me for two o’clock in the afternoon.  So that was it, after twelve or thirteen years of school I was finished.

I cried as I rode my bike out of the gates of Monivae College, knowing that something that had been a big part of my life for six years was now finished.  Perhaps I cried because I again was frightened of being in the BIG WORLD by myself, perhaps I cried because I was ashamed of myself for being gutless and feeling useless that I couldn’t succeed in life because I was no good at school.  I was also very happy.9

I went home and told the folks that I did have an appointment at the C.E.S. at two, so they helped me prepare.10

So at about five to two I rolled up outside, stood for a minute before walking in.  I asked for the right man, only to discover that no one at all knew about my appointment.  But all where pleasant, and I filled out the right forms applying for the dole, and registering myself us unemployed.

After a discussion the nice young (married) lady suggested that I approach Mr. McNaughton and enquire about a job there as I already had a part-time job there.11  I told Mr. Mac. that I had left school and asked him if he was willing to employ me.  He said he would have to think about it, and told me to come back on Tuesday 14th April 1981 – So I did.

At eleven o’clock I showed up, and Mr. Mac. said that he was willing to employ me but only under the following hours.  Monday to Thursday 12.00 noon till 5.30 p.m.  Fridays 10-12, 1-5, 6-8 (in winter 12-5, 6-9) Saturday’s 5.30 – 8.00, 9-12 noon.

I agreed to these hours, and although I wasn’t crash hot on them, thought it was better than going on the dole.

So on Tuesday 21st of April 1981 I started working at P.R. & L.A. McNaughtons Authorised Newsagents, 150-152 Gray St.  Hamilton.

Here ends my true story of the hassle I had in 1981 – and if you think how long all this took only twelve weeks, and I am pleased of the decisions I made, and I hope that I will never live to regret April 10 1981 – A day which will long live in my memory.

I am grateful to Mr. & Mrs. McNaughton, to Monivae College, and most of all my parents who tried so hard to support me and help me, a job which they did and will always do so well.


 

Sane Australia is a good place to start if my blog raises any issues for you and you’d like some help.

 

  1. I could never understand why people thought I was a ‘poof’ as I wasn’t ‘camp’ in the slightest
  2.  Code for someone might work out that I really am gay
  3. This is mostly a lot of prayers and team building
  4.  I was sleeping in a dorm with 15 other guys, some of them I fancied, this was a real challenge for a 17-year-old gay guy
  5. How could I stop being gay?
  6.  Fear of being outed as gay was a huge concern
  7.  I was begging god to take this ‘poof’ stuff away from me
  8.  We later went on to be friends when his son was in my Cub Pack
  9.  The relief of not being found out caused the tears, the freedom to start over and be free of the name calling made me happy
  10.  This was perhaps the first time my father let me make a decision about my life.  He sat on my bed and told me that if I didn’t want to go to school that was ok, but that I had to get a job.  He then asked what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to be a teacher, he said I wasn’t smart enough to be a teacher – that was devastating and had long-lasting implications for me.
  11.  It was a Newsagents.  I was doing fill in paper rounds and working Saturday mornings
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Aug 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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May 25

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

MEDIA RELEASE

For release: 24 May 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  2. A prohibition on international donations.

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

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

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

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

It’s really not a big deal.

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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 14

pray-away-the-gayJust a few days ago I blogged about the Gladstone Observer who clearly think it’s ok to generate news stories that use gay people as a play thing.

Seems like there’s a bit of nasty stuff in the Queensland water supply, for lo, the Toowoomba Chronicle has gone all out on reporting about a website of a local ministry that says it can cure the gayz.  It’s not so much a news story as just a bit of sensationalism to probably drive traffic to their site.  The last blog entry on the “Cure the Gayz” website is June 2013 – so hardly a new site and hardly a new story.  The website of the ‘ministry’ is really a front for selling books and CD’s.  Apparently her God wants so much to cure his people of the gayz that you have to pay for it.  There is no ‘church’ to attend or even an address to attend bible study courses.  There is only a website and a contact form.

For what reason would a newspaper publish such a story I wonder?

Then, just for good measure the Chronicle conducts a poll.  The question is really insulting.

“Can someone be healed of their homosexuality?”

No, it’s like a fucking terminal disease.  Oh, sorry, I swore, I’m a tad upset by the poll.  As if it’s not bad enough to create a news story about curing gay people, they then have to put the question to a poll.  I’m not even going to participate in that poll.  Yes and No answers are too simple – it really needs to be Yes, No and What are you, stupid?  Healed?  I mean really, what is this?

Despite all the information available about how to help people accept their sexuality, we are yet again subjected to another religious person showing intolerance.

I’m not broken, I’m not sick, I don’t need fixing or healing.  Nor do I ever need to see a poll worded in such a way.

Just to provide balance they ask the opinion of the local gay artist.  He is very dismissive of course.

Yet another regional newspaper that is drumming up business by making the gays their play thing.  They too, like the Gladstone Observer, need to hang their heads in shame.

Healed.

Indeed.

—-

You can make a complaint about the poll to the Press Council here.  The Council’s Advisory Guideline on Health and Medical matters says “The dangers of exciting unreasonable fears or hopes are far too great for anything but the most careful treatment.”

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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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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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