May 12

This is my dog.  Was my dog.  He’s gone now.  Went a long time ago.

He was a Koolie, an Australian working dog.  He was also a little thick.  Still a wonderful dog that was devoted and happy as dogs tend to be.

We called him Waddley Archa.  Waddley for short.  It’s a name I picked up from a song that I learned in the USA in 1984.  I was working at an American summer camp with the Scouts for 6 weeks.   Every week we’d have a campfire as the grand finale of the week with that group of boys.  We’d sing lots of songs, I’d lead them in Waltzing Matilda.  It was a fun time.

I learned several new songs, as you do when you travel around.  I brought them back to Australia and taught my own Cub Scouts these new songs, Waddle-ee-ah-cha was one of them.  It was really just a nonsense song, no purpose to it, and it had a nice little tune, good to sing around a camp fire.  It may have had some actions, and I’ve been sitting here singing it and going through the actions, they don’t seem right, and I look a right dill waving my arms around poking my nose and kicking my feet up.

Here’s the lyrics as recorded in the song book from the summer camp:

 

Waddle-ee-ah-cha, waddle-ee-ah-cha

Doodle-ee-do, doodle-ee-do,

Waddle-ee-ah-cha, waddle-ee-ah-cha

Doodle-ee-do, doodle-ee-do,

Some folks say there ain’t nothing to it,

All you gotta do is doodle-ee-do it.

I like the rest but the part I like the best

Is doodle-ee-do doodle-ee-do, Oy!

So, nice story.  But wait, there’s more!

I was playing around on the net and found myself at archive.org, The Internet Archive.  It’s a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.  I saw that they had a bunch of music recorded from old 78rpm records.  I’ve got a few old 78’s in the cupboard, and an old gramophone to play them on.  So I began searching through the treasure of old music to see if there were any recordings that I knew.  And there was.

In amongst them was one called Doodle-Le-Do  by Harry Raby and the 3-D Valley Boys.  It’s not dated.  I almost went right on past it, then the words began to sing in my mind and I thought, no, it couldn’t be.  I hit play and there it was!  The song actually has music to it!

So, here’s to Waddley and Darcy, our two dogs.  Hit play and feel free to sing along.

Waddley and Darcy.

 

 

Tagged with:
Apr 25

Here’s me in the kitchen again, this time cooking some ANZAC biscuits.

ANZAC biscuits trace back to the first world war and it’s said that the wives of soldiers sent boxes of them to the front line as they kept well.  Check out the history on the Wikipedia page.

In my family however, they are simply a quick and easy biscuit to make to feed the hungry masses.

 

ANZAC Biscuits

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
125g butter, melted

Oven 160c
cooking 18-20 minutes

Mix oats, sugar and flour in large bowl
Mix golden syrup, soda and boiling water in a small bowl. While frothing add melted butter and pour into dry ingredients, Mix thoroughly.

Drop in spoonfuls on tray and allow room for mixture to spread

Bake.

anzac biscuits

Tagged with:
Apr 03

Recently I made a Weet-bix cake based on my Mum’s recipe.

Well, this clearly has to be topped by something even better and more wonderful – enter Angela.

For the first time in her life she attempts to make a Pavlova.  We check Mum’s recipe and note that there are just no details on what to actually do, just a list of ingredients, so out comes Cookery the Australian way, the bible of cooking during the 80’s and the text-book for many Home Economics classes.

Pavlovas or pavs as we like to call them had been a staple of our family celebrations.

There’s 4 pavs in this spread – that must’ve been something special!  There’s no way Mum was using her own recipe.  Perhaps she’d committed it to memory and was filling in the blanks.

pavs

Here’s the video of us making our own pav – it’s not even close to the magnificence of Eve’s pavs.

 

Tagged with:
Mar 20

It’s Cultural Diversity Week in Victoria. This week-long celebration coincides with the United Nations ‘Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’ and The Department Of Social Services ‘Harmony Day’ on 21 March.

Every year we have a lunch at work, we have a rich and diverse community.  We all bring along something to share from our country of origin.

This year, I share my mother’s recipe for Weet-Bix cake, a childhood favourite.

Did a video too:

Here’s the details!

weet-bix cake

Ingredients:

4 weet-bix
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup coconut (desiccated is probably best)
1½ cups self-raising flour
¼ cup margarine (melted)
and 1 cup of milk.

Crush weet-bix finely, add sugar, cocoa, flour (and coconut), melted margarine and milk
Mix well and press into shallow tin.
Bake 10-12 minutes.  Ice when cold.  180º

Tagged with:
May 27

Just putting this out there for you to think about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged with:
Oct 07

I’ve been in a very reflective mood today as I mull over the events of yesterday.

Two things happened.  Bob Katter appeared on Q&A and as expected more or less said that there are no gay people in his electorate.

Ivan Hinton-Teoh returned to his home town to confront the past.  He was a victim of homophobia in his small rural town.

Ivan is an online friend, we both have an interest in marriage equality, Ivan is the Deputy National Director of Australian Marriage Equality.  His story is powerful and emotional.  A story that needed to be told.  It made me think about my own small town experience.  It has awakened in me just how much I hated growing up.  I felt I was surrounded by bullies and vilified on a constant basis at home and at school.

The home stuff was a lot about being teased.  I was pretty good at teasing too and would wind my brothers and sisters up as much as they did me.  What we didn’t know at the time was that I was gay. The best way to niggle at me was to tell me I was a poof.  At one time my name was Gregory Elizabeth Storer. For a young lad trying to come to terms with his sexuality that sort of teasing had a lasting impact on me.  There was no intent from my siblings to cause any damage other than normal sibling rivalry.  I’m not trying to lay blame at all.  I want to highlight just how easy it is to damage the young mind and how long it can take to undo that damage.

School was just horrible.  From Grade Four I was labelled a poofter, well before I even knew what any of that meant.  I was often the victim of playground taunts and bullying.  That only escalated in Secondary School.  By the time I reached adulthood I was doing everything I could to appear heterosexual.  I lived a double life.  I had a boyfriend and we would sneak away as much as we could. I would pretend to be straight for my family, my work, the scouts and the church.

I knew how bad it was to be gay, how we spoke about gay people.  Religion, the community, my friends, they all despised homosexuals.

I suffered from my own personal homophobia.  I hated the gay in me.  I felt a cheat, a liar, dishonourable, fake and a freak.  My personal integrity is key to my sense of self-worth, so being fake and dishonourable weighed heavily on my mind.

At times I wanted to die.  Often.

I was well-regarded in my small town.  I was even made Young Citizen of the Year.  On the inside I would be arguing about how much I would be hated if only they knew that I was really a homo.

It took a long time, a lot of money, a shitload of personal reflection for me to work out that the public me and the inside me could be joined together.  I didn’t need two sides of me.

In fact, if you don’t mind me stroking my own ego, I am honourable, reliable, decent bloke.  And I am that because my key value is honesty.  Above all else I hold that to be significantly important to me.

I was devastated last night watching Q&A to witness the blatant disregard that Bob Katter has towards gay people.

As Josh Thomas was taking him to task Katter was unable to even look at him.  Here is Katter talking about the importance of mental health for farmers and he is completely unable to acknowledge that gay people exist and at times suffer great mental anguish, something that he has had a hand in creating.

It is his attitude and those of people like him that allows him and our society to marginalise and vilify people just like me.  It is people like him that I went to school with that picked on me and thought it was all in good fun.

It is people like him that even now cause me uncertainty.  Every day I have to deal with what I tell people.  Will they treat me differently if they know I’m gay?  Do I tell them?  What would the ramifications be?  I’m trying to do a job here and it shouldn’t be an issue.  Do I come out to that contractor?  How much of a friendship do I want with that supplier?  Is that a look of contempt from a colleague because I’m gay?

More and more now I simply don’t care, people can like it or lump it.  But a lifetime of checking oneself is hard to simply give up in 10 short years.  How much of it is in my head?  How much is real?

So that’s me.  I have resilience and support.  I have a great well of support, my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my work-mates.  Despite the odd bit of insecurity, I know who I am, I’m not afraid to tell you and will even take you to task at the drop of a hat.  But imagine being young, searching, unsure.  If you are gay and trying to understand yourself and how you fit into this society then last night’s program may have had a negative impact on you.

If you’re a Bob Katter then you need to watch what Ivan has to say.  You need to feel his raw emotions on display for the world to see.  You need to see his vulnerability.  Because Ivan is the young gay kid in every rural community struggling to make sense of himself in a world created for heterosexuals.

Thanks Ivan.

This is mental health week – take care of your mental health.  Be aware of other people’s mental health.

You never know where your homophobic attitudes will land.


If you need to talk to someone about mental health, please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

montage2

Tagged with:
Aug 13

Today is a day of anniversaries for me.

I’m celebrating the 30th Anniversary of my Coming of Age.

I’m celebrating the anniversary of my birth.  51 years.

I’m recalling my first trip overseas.

Then, there’s a couple of other anniversaries that need mentioning.

Marriage Equality was blocked in Australia 10 years ago today.

30 years ago was the last time my family was together.

So yes, Happy Birthday to me.  See my blog this time last year!

I remember my birthday 10 years ago.  We were going out to dinner to celebrate.  Somewhere in Chinatown in Melbourne.  It was all arranged.

I wasn’t so much an activist back then.  It had only been a couple of years since I had embraced my sexuality and I was still coming to terms with what it all meant.

I was running late, because I was listening to the radio.  News Radio was covering the live debate from the Senate on Marriage Equality.  Although really it wasn’t about equality.  It was about amending the Marriage Act to include the words

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

The amendments also required marriage celebrants to mutter those words, just to drive home the point at every marriage in Australia.

I was standing in the kitchen, by the radio, as the votes where being counted, and then listened to the result, 38 Senators voted in favour of amending the Act.  6 Against.  Australia had successfully legislated discrimination against couples of the same-sex.

The effect on me was immediate.  Angry.  I had worked so hard to come to terms with my sexuality.  Many of my family and friends had embraced the new me.  Yet here was the Government, both of the major parties, Labor and Liberal, telling me that my relationship was second-rate.  In effect I was a second class Australian.  I just couldn’t believe what had just happened.  Even though it was expected, I was hoping that at least the Senate might throw the bill back to the House of Representatives and ask for a re-think.

Let me point to that moment in time as the start of my activism for my right and the rights of all other non-heterosexual couples to be treated as equal citizens.

I’ll keep fighting for as long as it takes.  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!

International Commissioner!

International Commissioner!

The other life event for me 30 years ago was my first trip outside of Australia.  I spent 6 weeks in the USA, Richmond Virginia.  I was at a Boy Scout Summer Camp and it is one of the highlights of my life!  Can you imagine this small town young man travelling solo to the USA.  I’d only ever been as far as Perth and then I drove there.  The sheer excitement and nervousness of standing at Tullamarine, looking at the plane and seeing gaffer tape around the tail wings.  The horror of arriving in Houston to be told there was a strike and no planes were flying.  Getting to New York and not understanding that I needed to fly with a different airline to get to Washington DC, being completely lost in the airport.  Taking a Greyhound bus to Richmond only to arrive at the bus terminal and spend hours sitting there because nobody came to collect me.  They didn’t answer the phone (landlines!) and I had a lot of trouble using the payphone with all this foreign money.

The last full clan gathering 1984

The last full clan gathering 1984

Memories!  When I returned from the US it was only a matter of weeks until I turned 21. 30 years ago today.  At that birthday party the family of 11 children gathered for the last time.  Every other event since then always had one or two of us missing.  And now with my sister Helen and my parents dying it will never be possible again.

Time continues to travel in such a way that we can’t go backwards.

Happy Anniversaries everyone!


Take some time to send a message to your MP about Marriage Equality

Attend the next Equal Love Rally August 16th. Michael and I will be addressing the rally.


 

 

 

Tagged with:
Apr 25

I’ve been married.  To a woman.  We had two children.  We had a great life together.  Our wedding day was one of the most outstanding days of my life.  Jennie and I had many good years together.

Recently I’ve been going through my old stuff.  We both corresponded with each other in the late eighties by writing letters.  I actually put pen to paper and Jennie did the same.  We lived in different cities.  Her in Melbourne, me in Hamilton.

We made phone calls, regularly.  Most phones in the late 80’s were connected to a wall via a cable.  So you didn’t really carry them about.  Jennie would call me at work, so I couldn’t escape to another room or step outside, I had to take the call at my desk, wide open to the public.

Then we’d call at night.  Jennie worked nights so sometimes I could call her at work.  We’d tie the phone up for awhile, that would make my mother mad.  My dad complained about the bill a lot.  (Strange, I complain about the bill now too).

And yeah, even when we were married I was gay.  There were a lot of strange things going on in my head at the time and it took many years to put all that right.  But as my friends and family would tell you Jennie and I were clearly in love.  And we were clearly in love.  The early days of our relationship were fantastic.  I had a deep love her.

That’s really important.  It is that love that lead me to marry her.  I foolishly thought it would last forever, but things don’t always work out the way you expect.

I’ve moved on now.  My life has changed, but Jennie is still in it, and I do whatever I can to make sure she is OK.  I’m determined to make sure that she’s taken care of because somewhere I still have feelings for her.  Sure, they’re mixed up at times, but let’s face it, our marriage was important and we shared something very meaningful.  We also share the parentage of two children.

On April 21st 1990 we got married.  The Australian Government sanctioned our marriage, I have the certificate to prove it.

certificate of marriage

As I said, I’ve moved on.  Michael is in my life now.  I love him.  I want to spend the rest of my life with him.  We keep in touch during the day, we regularly say “I love you” to each other.  We share just about every aspect of our lives together.  I foolishly think it will last forever!  What can I say.  He makes me melt.  It’s true that we don’t have children together, we do live with two (and sometimes 3) adult children.  Our relationship is important.  What we share is something very meaningful.

Just three years ago on April 21st 2010 we got registered.  The Australian Government didn’t sanction our relationship.  The state of Victoria did, I have the registration slip to prove it.

25283_418558365148_505910_n

There is no difference in the way I feel now.  I’m in love. I know what that feels like.

New Zealand, France and other places allow people just like me to get married.  I seem to be living in a backwater.  People come to me wide-eye and make positive comments about New Zealand and want to know if I’m going there to get married.

Well no.  I’m Australian.  If I want to get married again I want to do it here.  I don’t want to go to New Zealand, nice as it is I’m sure.  The Australian Government wouldn’t even acknowledge my marriage.

Say what you like about marriage.  You can believe it to be whatever you want.  To me it’s about love.  To me it’s about a public commitment to another person.  Who cares what the sex of that person is?

I know what love is, I know what marriage is, I have been married to the woman I loved.  I now want to be married to the man I love.

From where I stand my Government is preventing me from doing it.  There is no good reason to deny me and my partner the right to call each other husband.

We are not second class citizens.  We are Australian men, in love and living together as a couple.

The only people in the marriage are the couple.  The rest of it is no one’s  business.

Tagged with:
Nov 15

I’m a survivor of sexual abuse.

It’s a hot topic at the moment.

I have not suffered any sexual abuse at the hands of the catholic church.  I was an altar boy, I attended the catholic Scout Group, I went to St Mary’s primary school and Monivae College secondary school, I was for many years an active member of St Mary’s catholic parish in Hamilton.  In all those years I was never subjected to any thing of a sexual nature by any of those involved in the church.

There was talk at school in the 70’s of priests or brothers being ‘poofters’ and messing around with some of the boarders (I was a day student), there was nothing ever concrete that I recall.  Every now and then a religious type would disappear quickly and rumours would abound.  It wasn’t considered unusual.

The sexual abuse I suffered happened inside my very catholic family.  The church did have a role in how it affected me for many years.  Let me tell you how.

During a recent media conference, Cardinal George Pell, who we are supposed to refer to as His Eminence, said that a priest should never reveal what is said to them during confession.  As the sinful person repenting to the priest you can say anything you like, admit whatever you like, murder, theft, bashing and raping of children, and the priest will never mention that again to anyone.

Confession, which later became known as reconciliation, is a sacrament that the catholics bestow upon the faithful.  It’s the process of declaring your sins to god and having them forgiven and then doing some penance (punishment).  Penance was often saying some prayers, 10 hail marys or a couple of our fathers.  If the sin was really bad then the whole fucking rosary.

During training before making your first confession, the church takes the young person, quite often between 8 and 10, and instructs them on how sin works, how great god is to forgive us those sins and how to beg for that forgiveness.  Sister Rose was my tutor.  She took us grade 3 students (it may have been grade 4, I don’t know) and put the fear of god and eternal damnation into us.  Dying with a sin on your soul would surely see you cast into the pits of hell to burn for all eternity.  Something as simple as chewing gum in class could see you in the company of the devil forever.  I wonder what happened to Paul Kelly, perhaps god forgave him.

There’s a euphoric feeling after confessing.  The church makes sure you feel it.  It’s all set up that way.  You go to church on a Saturday morning, Dad would take us, the confessional boxes are at the back of the church, you sit in the pew, or mostly kneel, praying to god or thinking about how to steal your brother’s records to tape them, and behind you people shuffle along the pews into the confessional only to emerge a few minutes later looking relieved.  There’s  lots of sideways scooting along polished pews and craning of necks to see how many people are before you.

The confessional box is a wooden box with two doors.  You step into your side and it’s dark.  There’s a kneeler, so you kneel.  The priest is on the other side sitting quite comfortably probably with the transistor radio plugged into his ear listening for the scratchings for the races.  There is a wall between you and a small window covered in mesh, so you can’t really see him and he probably can’t really see you.  He flings open the little window, mutters some words in Latin, although it may have been English, and you start with the magic words.

“Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been a month since my last confession and…”

“A month?”

“Yes father”

“That’s a long time and a lot of sinning, you need to come weekly to keep your soul clean”

“Yes father”

“Go on”

“..and my sins are… lying, stealing, picking on my little brother, loosing my temper, being rude”

“Is that all?”

“Yes father”

“How many times did you lie?”

“I don’t know, I lied to mum about breaking a glass”

“I see, and what did you steal?”

“Some chewing gum from the shop”

“And how where you rude?”

“I was rude with my brother”

“And how many times do you lose your temper?”

“All the time, Father”

“Have you missed church?”

“No father”

“So you’ve been every Sunday?”

“Yes father”

“God is pleased,  I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit.  For your penance say one our father and ten hail marys.  Say the act of contrition”

“Oh my god, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you, because you are so good and with your help I will not sin again”

“Bless you my son, go and sin no more”

Then there’s a few amens or waving of hands as you struggle to stand up in the small box, fiddle with the door knob and walk out into the light.  That’s when the feeling of happiness happens, you’ve just bared your 10-year-old soul to a grumpy old man who said some magic words and all has been forgiven.  You promise yourself to never sin again, that normally lasts at least until the last prayer.

Remember, I’m 10, I lack the ability to properly express myself. I don’t even know the right words to describe the abuse.  The priest is also unprepared for the real story coming from the other side of the box.  Here’s a kid who says that he is rude with his brother and loses his temper all the time.  Did that set your alarm bells ringing?  At least to ask a few more questions or perhaps raise the issue with the child’s parents.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, I can see now as an adult that sticking a kid in a dark box and telling him to tell god his most deep secrets is foolhardy.  At the very least the person on the other side of the mesh has a duty of care to ensure the well-being of the child.  I doubt the priest was even aware of the trauma going on in my life, he certainly had no ability to understand the impact of what being rude means.

If I had disclosed the true nature of being rude the priest would have done nothing, you see the secrecy surrounding the confession is absolute.  While the church continues to hide behind that charade young children are being hurt.

It’s the same reason that I object to christians as school chaplains, they’re not counsellors, they’re not qualified to listen to a child bare their soul.

The continued policy of the catholic church to protect their priests by claiming some sort of religious right to withhold important information has to stop.

It’s rot, absolute bullshit, to say that the confessional is sacred.  It’s not.

How much different my life would have been if the caring priest had of asked what I meant by being rude.  How much better would it have been if he’d had a quiet word to my parents.  How much better if he’d alerted an appropriate counsellor to have a chat with me.  How much better if the church had prepared the priest to handle such disclosures appropriately.

For years and years I imagined every time I sinned a black mark being on my soul.  The soul to me was a round disk inside my body, and every time I sinned it was like taking a pencil and blacking out a section.  In my mind I could see my soul and just how black it was.

Walking out of the confessional was like taking an eraser to the soul and making it sparkling again. Being rude was something I thought was my fault because I was admitting the sin, and not being told I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I was being forgiven.

I think I had it easy.  As traumatic as my experience was I listen to the hurt of those that have been raped and abused by people in the positions of power and I consider myself lucky.

I’ve long ago dealt with the sexual abuse in my life, and I have fully addressed the abuse with the abuser.  My heart goes out to those who now have to struggle with organisations that seek to avoid their responsibilities.

I believe it’s incumbent upon us to support and encourage them.

The royal commission into  child sexual abuse is long overdue.  The likes of the catholic church and other religious establishments to hold special privileges in our democratic state has passed.  They should be held accountable to the full extent of the law and not be permitted to avoid examination or responsibility based on some vague notion that they are somehow only responsible to a deity that would seem to have condoned their shocking behaviour and done nothing to protect innocent children for the vile nasty children rapist and abusers.

Tagged with:
Sep 28

Under the gaze of Robert Menzies we were ushered into Kelly O’Dwyer’s office.  Old Menzies is a bronze bust sitting on a pedestal with an Australian Flag draped next to him.  His cold staring eyes look over Michael and I as we take a seat at the table with Kelly.  I wonder what Menzies would have thought about marriage equality.

Kelly O’Dwyer is the member for Higgins, my local member.  She’s the first sitting politician that I’ve had a formal meeting with since living in the Melbourne.  I recall living in Hamilton and meeting Malcolm Fraser on many occasions.  Fraser was much more aloof.

Our meeting follows on from the recent one we had with Anna Burke, Michael’s local member.  Yes, we have do live together, but we maintain separate residences!  We were keen to hear what Kelly had to say about marriage equality.

The defeat of the marriage equality bill happened recently.  I’d set this meeting up well before that event, so the idea of trying to convince Kelly to vote against her party was no longer my objective.  Instead I wanted to focus on the future and what that would mean.

I told Kelly about the death of my mother.  How in my family of eleven each of the wives or husbands of my siblings was mentioned.  Except for Michael.  It was decided that that was too much for the sweet little country town to bear.  So his name wasn’t tagged on the end of mine.  That hurt.  My relationship with Michael is every bit as real as the relationship that Daryl has with Lee, that Larry has with Diane, that David has with Robyn, that Michael has with Margie, that Shane has with Mary-Lou, that Helen(deceased) had with Rodney, that Bronwyn has with Derek, that Angela has with Chris, that Janine had with John and that Craig has with Cheryl.  It stood out like dogs balls.  My best mate Geoff, sitting next to Michael in the church quietly reassured Michael that he too was part of the family and equally as important.  It just didn’t feel like it at the time.

Marriage would at least give some dignity to the situation, there would be no escaping the fact that the Storer family has a gay member.

Kelly talked about how any sort of social change needs community consensus. I’m not sure why we need a consensus when it comes to equality and rights, it seems to me that it’s pretty clear-cut.  She describes the push for marriage equality as complex.  Although I fail to see how it’s complex.

Kelly is also very keen on civil unions, she thinks that is a stepping stone and we spent some time talking about that concept.  I don’t agree with her, I think civil unions is an appalling idea and I’d never be happy with that concept.  I’m not about to accept that civil unions grants anything like equal rights.

We talked about family life, the importance of Michael’s family and how I fit into that, how Michael works with my family.  We spoke about the families we know and gave Kelly photographs of a couple of mums and their children and a couple of dads and their children.  Those families are every bit as functional as all other families and to deny them the right to marry is a travesty.

Kelly seemed pretty clear that she didn’t think a vote will get up again.  She is convinced that with some internal lobbying that civil unions would be accepted.  She indicated that she would be talking to her Liberal colleagues and trying to get their support.

When asked if marriage equality came before the parliament would she vote for it, she wouldn’t give an answer.  In fact, let me cut and paste her response from a recent Q&A question as it’s very close to our discussion:

TONY JONES: So can I just interrupt you there. Does that mean if you had the free choice, you would have voted no?

KELLY O’DWYER: Well, look, on the issue of the conscience vote, I think Tanya makes a very interesting point because the Labor Party made much of the fact that they had a conscience vote on this issue. They only decided, though, to have a conscience vote on this issue when it was very apparent that the party platform would change. The Labor Party platform binds parliamentarians which would have meant that all of the Labor parliamentarians would have actually have to have…

TONY JONES: Okay, but what would your conscience have dictated to you personally?

KELLY O’DWYER: No. No. No. But this is an important point, though, Tony, because…

TONY JONES: If you had a conscience vote, what would you have voted?

KELLY O’DWYER: But, Tony, if you can just let me finish this one point because it is important. It would have meant, of course, that all of the Labor members of parliament would have actually voted for a change to the Marriage Act if they had been bound but the Prime Minister decided to be a little bit tricky and she decided to actually make a change and so she said that on this policy issue they would vote differently. Now, we made a commitment, as I said. Going into the next election, we will no doubt talk about this issue again. Civil unions may come up. I don’t know if that’s something that the Labor Party is going to be bringing forward. I suspect that across the…

TONY JONES: Okay, but just to bring you, because we haven’t got a lot of time – just to bring you to the point that I asked, if you had a conscience vote yourself, would you ever voted yes or no?

KELLY O’DWYER: Well, I mean, it’s a hypothetical question. I have been on the record…

TONY JONES: Your conscience is a hypothetical?

KELLY O’DWYER: No. No. No. It’s a hypothetical question as to how I would have voted. I mean we took a position as a party on this issue.

TONY JONES: Would you be prepared to reveal publicly what your position is?

KELLY O’DWYER: Well, I have publicly stated my support for civil unions and that’s my public position.

And that is indeed her public position.

Kelly makes all the right noises, she acknowledges our position but refuses to budge from hers.  She appears to be supportive of marriage equality but won’t give her unqualified support.  She is prepared to support the hypothetical notion of civil unions but not the hypothetical notion of marriage equality.

This is the political game.  Keep the constituents happy, make it sound like you empathise and concur with them but give them nothing solid.

It wasn’t a bad meeting, Kelly is a professional politician.  Good humoured, determined and respectful.

It’s a pity that her respect doesn’t extend to telling us exactly where she stands on marriage equality instead of taking the safe ground of civil unions.

 

Tagged with:
preload preload preload