Sep 14

There’s been a lot of talking this week about Catherine Deveny and what she said on Q and A on Monday night.  There’s plenty of information out there.  I’d like to spend some time looking at what Peter Jensen said.

Jensen who has the title of Archbishop of Sydney, was a quietly speaking, smiling man with what seemed a sunny disposition.  It’s the same sort of smug attitude I’ve noticed on others who think they’re right and have nothing to worry about.

I’ve taken the following from the transcript of Q&A.

This Question was asked:

PETER KEEGAN: The Australian Christian Lobby has again made the headlines for offensive remarks made by its director, Jim Wallace. As a Christian, I continually find that the ACL does not speak for me and does not represent the kind of faith that I see reflected in the teaching and ministry of Jesus. Archbishop, will you publically say that contributions like those we heard from the ACL pose a greater risk to the health of our public discourse and the integrity of our faith than the presence of lifestyles or beliefs that may differ from our own?

And Jensen’s response:

PETER JENSEN: Again, thanks for the question. No, I won’t say that. I am generally supportive of ACL, I have to say. I don’t support everything that’s said by its leaders.

Jensen straight off makes it clear that while he is generally supportive of the ACL, he agrees with them in this case.

TONY JONES: What about this very specific statement where Jim Wallace suggests that homosexuality poses the same kind of health risk to the community as smoking does?

PETER JENSEN: It needs to be observed that he has been somewhat quoted out of context in some reports.  I’m not sure about that one but in some reports he’s been somewhat quoted out of context.

No it wasn’t. This is evident by Wallace restating the claim many times in the media after the event.  There is no doubt that he said that being gay is worse than smoking.

 But what he has done for us, rightly or wrongly, what he has done is given us an opportunity to talk about something significant, namely the question of health risks.

You must be blind.  The health risks of having unprotected sex are well-known.  In an effort to educate people last year there was a campaign in Queensland that included two clothed men hugging holding a wrapped condom.  The image was displayed on bus shelters, and the ACL sought to have that removed1.  They don’t want to talk about it.

Now, I think it is true to say – I think it is true to say – it’s very hard to get all the facts here because we don’t want to talk about it and in this country censorship is alive and well, believe me.

Yes, yes it is.

So what I’m about to say, I don’t want to say because I know I’m going to be hit over the head for the next 100 years about it so – and it’s a virulent censorship. Now, I will still go ahead.

Before the words are  out of his mouth he’s claiming to be a victim.  Don’t forget this is a man who has his tie checked by an assistant2.  It’s hard to imagine him as a victim as he lives such a life of luxury.  Just as his god demands.

What I want to say is that as far as I can see by trying to get to the facts, the lifespan of practising gays is significantly shorter than the ordinary, so called, heterosexual man. I think that seems to be the case.

If you were in the slightest bit interested you would have tested the facts rather than simply stating that they seem to be true.  Plenty of people have pointed out that Wallace has relied on discredited research.  Check out Chrys Stevenson’s great blog to start with3.

 Now what we need to do is to look at why this may be the case and we need to do it in a compassionate and objective way.

People already have, it’s called research, and it’s out there and available.  Alas, you seem reluctant to accept it.

Some people say it’s because of the things I say and the position I take and that creates, for example, a spate of suicides. That may be true but how can we get at the facts if we’re never willing to talk about it? Now, there may be other things as well.

Jensen accepts that some people may kill themselves because of the words he says and the position he takes.  Let that sink in a bit.  Really?  He admits that people may die because of his attitude?  You’d think if he understood that he’d actually take the time to ensure that he’s right.  Instead he again ignores the research from some very well-respected people who clearly shows religious intolerance causes emotional distress to young people.  The facts are out there, they are being talked about.  How hard can it be for a church man to access the internet and check?  You could check the position statement of Suicide Prevention Australia, in particular this paragraph:

Similarly, those belonging to religious faiths that promulgate negative discourses about homosexuality are particularly vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. Conflicts between spiritual or religious beliefs and sexuality can result in significant psychological dissonance as well as division and exclusion from family, friends and community.

Then a video question is played from Alistair:

ALISTAIR CORNELL: My question is for Peter Jensen. I was born and bred Anglican but at the age of 15 I tried to take my own life. What advice would he give to a 15 year old suffering almost to the point of death from the rejection of his community about being gay?

PETER JENSEN: Thank you and thank you for the courage of coming on and telling us that story.

I agree, it does take courage to tell the story.  Alistair, thank you for sharing with everyone and showing us the depth of your despair.  I for one am glad you didn’t reach the point of death.  That must’ve been horrible for you.

You see, one of the difficulties is to get that story, to get it to someone like me and to give me the chance to assess it for what it is.

We know what it is.  A young many struggling with rejection for his community.  What assessment do you need to do?  And why?

to offer whatever pastoral advice I may be able to offer, to listen to what’s being said, but to recognise that we’re dealing with very, very complex issues here.

Leaving aside the fact that his solution is to offer pastoral advice rather than get some real help for people like Alistair.  I find it rather difficult to swallow that this is complex.  This isn’t an unknown issue.  The churches reject homosexuality.  Some people are homosexual. That means that they either leave the church, some through suicide, or follow the churches’ rules.  The church has a high level of intolerance on people’s sexuality, at least the hierarchy does.

It may be that the things I say are having such an effect but it may be something quite different all together and…

TONY JONES: Such as what, for example?

PETER JENSEN: Well a 15 year old sorry, I need to be careful here. We don’t want to talk about this particular young man with his courage.

I disagree, that’s exactly what we want to talk about.  But you don’t because then it becomes about a real person.  Someone who has said the words to your face.

But clearly a teenager is going through a period in their lives, exciting as it is, in which they’re seeking to find themselves. A person who feels in themselves same-sex attraction and I might add, a lot of such folk have talked to me over the years, is seeking, I think, to find themselves, to find an identity and in our sort of society, with its emphasis on sexual activity as an identity finding activity, there is therefore the opportunity to think that that is the way to do things and yet here you have this frowned upon same-sex feeling.

It’s hard to unravel that little beauty.  It seems to me that he’s saying young men have confided in him about their same-sex attraction and that he’s told them it’s frowned upon and that it’s because society has an emphasis on sex and being gay is just a phase you’re going through.

TONY JONES: Okay, I’ve just to interrupt because we do need to hear other panellists on this subject but put simply are you saying or repeating, in a way, or making, you know, a sort of more complex argument about what Jim Wallace said, which is homosexuality is bad for your health? Are you seriously trying to make that argument tonight?

PETER JENSEN: I would like to know see, people tell me that it is and they produce literature on the subject. I can’t get a discussion going on this because it’s a forbidden subject.

You’re happy to take the words of Wallace as they’re said, but anyone else has to present the literature to you.  There’s plenty of it out there.  Perhaps your staff could do a Google search for you.  The discussion is happening right now, in lots of places, so why are you claiming it’s a forbidden subject?

Now, I’m open on this. I hope it’s not true, Tony. I don’t want to see my friends dying and I’ve seen my friends dying. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to hear stories like that. But, dear friends, sorry, when do we get to the point where we can talk about this without shouting at each other and hurting each other?

When you stop insisting that Wallace is giving you facts and when you are open to others talking to you.  You’re not listening to all the other voices out there are you?

PETER JENSEN: Sorry. Yes, I am really serious but I would like to know in a dispassionate way, in an objective way, what the facts are. I think it’s very, very…

CATHERINE DEVENY: I think she’s got the facts for you.

PETER JENSEN: I think she says she has the facts.

Just like Wallace thinks he has the facts.  How easy it is to dismiss someone else’s point of view because it doesn’t match yours.  If you’re serious about having a dispassionate discussion then all you have to do is call on a few academics to give you the heads up.  It’s really very easy.  While you wait for someone to show you the facts, rather than find them yourself, young people are dying or in great mental anguish.

PETER JENSEN: Thank you, Tony. God did create homosexuals. I don’t need the gene to tell me that. God created homosexuals. God created every person and loves every person, without doubt.

TONY JONES: No, I mean he created if there is a gay gene, would you say the creator was responsible for creating that?

PETER JENSEN: Well, I would say that that that may be the case but we’re not talking about same-sex attraction, we’re talking about the acting out of same-sex attraction. We’re talking about well, I realise that we’re living in a very, very different world from the one I’m talking about but I’m living in a world where a number of my friends have life long committed themselves to no sexual relations.

The admission that his god is said to have created homosexuals, but they’re not to have sex.  That’s what it amounts to.  People may like to not have sex, there are those who seem very happy to abstain.  But for a vast majority of the population that’s unacceptable, unfair and unjust.  To even suggest that just because you’re attracted to somebody of the same sex means you can’t be physically intimate with them is to deprive them of the most basic of human desires.  To be accepted and loved.  Putting people inside marriage may curb the desire to have multiple sex partners, but there are plenty of divorces out there because one of the two had sex outside the relationship, and there is no escaping that sex outside marriage is probably happening more than inside marriage.  Jensen is right, he lives in a different world, and he is allowed.  Where I take issue is when he attempts to use his world to force the rest of society to follow it.

And that’s the crux of the matter.

Jensen and Wallace are not interested in hearing anything that gives approval to homosexuality as normal and natural.  They use their positions to push their own ideology, ignore any research that disputes it and rejects anybody that shows them the research they rely on is flawed.

Under Jensen’s facade is a determination to treat gay people as second class citizens, and that is driven by the bible.  He considers me to be a sinner.  Sin comes from the devil, therefore I’m evil.  I’m immoral, I’m without hope.

Jensen is allowed to have the last words for the program:

PETER JENSEN: Well, the last word is that in Jesus Christ we have that equality and in Jesus Christ was have that salvation and all I can say is the most wonder that the love of God for everyone, no matter who they are, no matter how they’ve lived or whatever, is the greatest reality in the world.

I accept that this is Jensen’s belief and he’s entitled to it.  He can believe whatever he wants.  I’ve also said that my acceptance of his right to believe means I have the right to not believe.   To suggest that the love of his god is for everyone and that that is the ‘greatest reality’ is false.

In my mind his devotion to his religion causes great harm, and using it to influence government policy is unethical as we don’t all subscribe to his religion.

The facts are out there, religion causes harm.  Gay people are more likely to be kicked to death by a duck than have a fundamentalist Christian sect accept all people as equal.

 

  1. Initially the posters  were removed, but later reinstated.  Brisbane Times
  2. As observed by Catherine Deveny “At one point I watched Jensen’s adviser straighten his tie and wondered how much Jensen had been groomed and prepared for the appearance.”
  3.  In her blog Chrys reverse engineers the ‘research’ that Wallace and the ACL rely on.  A bit of research would help the ACL see the truth.
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Sep 09

Jason Ball plays football and talks about how hard it has been for him to come out to his team mates.  He says that if he had a few AFL gay role models it would have been much easier.

Jason has been making the media rounds today, getting his face on TV, voice on the radio, stories in the newspapers, talking about homophobia and trying to get the AFL to play the No to Homophobia ad during the grand final coming up in a couple of weeks time.

Here’s the story from ABC News 24:

You can help too – sign the petition.

Visit the website for No to Homophobia website.

Spread the word, help make a change and help those young people who are need a role model.

Here’s the ad:

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Aug 14

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

Julia says a little prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

homosexuals (re)produces themselves by molesting children

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other stories:

Michael’s Blog

The Australian

Australian Marriage Equality

Shellity – There should be a sign

Godless Business

Star Observer

SameSame

Gay News Network

Flourish & Bloggs

The Punch

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


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Jun 07

Well, now I’m all worked up.

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

You can see it here:

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s not just him.

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

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

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

extreme disappointment and dismay

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

His personal Facebook pages says this:

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

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

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

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

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

Go get it checked.

 

 

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May 08

Tonight Michael and I attended a debate run by the Wheeler Centre, held at the magnificent Melbourne Town Hall.  The topic was “Freedom of Speech is over-rated”, and was part of their IQ² Debate series.

On the For side were Marcia Langton, Catherine Deveny and Michael Gawenda, and Against Arnold Zable, Gretel Killeen and Julian Burnside.

There seemed to be no doubt from those on the stage that the notion of free speech is something that is valued, but as Deveny suggested, it’s really an illusion in Australia.  There were some really great points made, afterwards some great audience questions.  The cast spoke with passion and clear thoughts about free speech.

I’m all for free speech, I value it.  That means at times I have to agree that some people can say things that aren’t particularly pleasant and with which I disagree.  It also means that sometimes I get offended at the words that pour out of someone else’s mouth.  I’m fine with that, I understand that taking offence is my responsibility, and as much as I want them to shut up, I accept that they have a right to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas.

I think that there is a distinction between free speech and hate speech.  It’s not ok to make derogatory remarks in regards to race, sex, sexual identity or disability.  So we put limits on our right to say what we think, and with just cause.  Treating people with contempt just because they are different to you is not ok.

There’s been an interesting development following George Pell‘s appearance on Q and A recently.  During the course of the program, which also featured Richard Dawkins, Pell said the following:

We were preparing young English boys

Then he paused, the audience broke into laughter, Pell’s facial expression went from “What?  Oh! Not what I meant” followed by a look of  “Why don’t you lot grow up”, he sort of snarled and finished the sentence with:

for Holy Communion

So the full sentence, just so we’re clear on this:

Were preparing young english boys…. for Holy Communion

Of course, Twitter immediately lit up with those words and it bounded around very quickly, finally ending up as a graphic with Pell’s head and those words but without the holy communion bit.

Pell and the Catholic Church, the same church that is at odds with victims of child abuse perpetrated by their own priests,  in Victoria and indeed around the world, then started legal proceedings by demanding that Twitter remove the offending tweets and the graphic image from its servers.

The letter from the law firm, Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth, to Twitter says in part:

By intentionally and maliciously failing to include the words “for holy communion”, the publication (the tweet) ridicules Cardinal Pell and conveys to Australian readers the false and seriously defamatory imputation that Cardinal Pell is associated with the sexual abuse of young boys.

Yes, that’s exactly right.  The head of the church in Australia is held in ridicule.

Is this a step too far?  Yes, it is.  To suggest that someone is guilty of sexual abuse as a joke isn’t really funny.  I understand that priests and sex abuse sort of go together in plenty of comedic situations, but of course, those that abuse are few, those that don’t are no doubt in the majority.

I think that Pell and the church’s response, however, is over the top.  Sure, Pell can defend his reputation, he’s allowed.  I think the threat of legal action against Twitter and Deveny was unwarranted.

I can’t help but draw a comparison between the hatred and bigotry that is thrown out by the church with regards to gay people.  Over the years I’ve had to stand back and watch the friendships of my children ebb and flow as people found out about my sexuality.  Sometimes the kids knew the reason why a friend from the catholic primary school they attended suddenly stopped being a friend, sometimes they didn’t know why that friend couldn’t sleep over or come to their birthday party.  The reason is that some people equate being gay with being a pedophile.  That isn’t the slightest bit true, but that doesn’t stop people from thinking it.

Religions such as christianity have perpetrated the myth that if you’re gay you’re a pedophile.  In 2010, Ratzinger’s right hand man, Tarcisio Bertone, said, out loud:

But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.

Do you have any idea how offensive I find such remarks?

This from a church that still describes gay people as intrinsically disordered, and contrary to the natural order.1

It’s fine for Pell to defend his reputation and to take action against those who he perceives as trying to destroy it.  Quite frankly I think he’s got bigger problems than being offended by some public chatter.

In all fairness though, who’s holding the church accountable for the defamation that we gay people have been subjected to for the last two thousand years?  Where is our justice, where is our right to keep our reputations in tact?  The words of the church have no doubt contributed to the premature death of many young people over the years.  Kids that haven’t been able to find the right way to freely express what’s happening to them. Riddled with doubt because the faith they belong to considers them against the natural order.

Free speech is indeed a wonderful thing, but only when we all have the right and the access to easily address and redress the imbalance.  We can’t all launch legal action against comedians and international corporations when we feel hurt.

  1.  You can find that little gem in the official book of belief of the catholic church.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church–  #2357
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Mar 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time has come.

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Mar 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s good to see this shift.

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

His speech is moving and important.  He says

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

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

The time has come.

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

There’s a challenge in his words for Australians:

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

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

When I watch this piece from Greys Anatomy

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

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

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

The time has come.


Michael and me on Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight.

 

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Jan 26

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I am feeling completely demoralised after Margaret Courts latest foray into gay rights.

Court, an Australian sporting hero, now a minister in her own church that she founded, is using her sporting status as a platform to launch an all out attack on me and people in our community.  (That’s everyone, not just the gay community)

We live in a world of moral values. Even those without faith know what is right and what is wrong. We all have a conscience and so many people get trapped in the pattern of saying something is right when deep down they know it isn’t.

It’s that attitude that can harden hearts. People suddenly justify the immoralities around them. We have taken the easy way out. Minorities are now making it harder for the majority. They are increasingly taking everything that is good in society and pushing it to the side.

Looking back, you can see that there has been a steep decline, especially when it comes to the issue of sexuality. There is so much scripture within the Bible that points to what we see happening now. We are losing that sense of discipline.

These three paragraphs are saying that I know deep down that my sexuality is wrong.  I’ve hardened my heart and as a minority, I’m making it harder for the majority.  I’m taking everything good in society and pushing it aside.  Think on that for a few moments…    There is a steep decline in moral values, and it’s because of the homosexuals.  The bible says so.

I can tell you now, I am a principled man with a very good set of ethics and I don’t lack discipline of any sort.

Let me be clear. I believe that a person’s sexuality is a choice. In the Bible it said that homosexuality is among sins that are works of the flesh. It is not something you are born with. My concern is that we are advocating to young people that it is OK to have these feelings. But I truly believe if you are told you are gay from a young age, soon enough it will start to impact your life and you will live it. If somebody is told they are gay they often start to believe it.

A choice?  You think I chose this?  You think I want to be the victim of such outright abuse?  You think that I deliberately chose a sexuality that I knew would be a rocky road because of attitudes coming from religious people that I’m a sinner?  You think that because somebody told me I was gay at primary school, that’s what ‘made’ me gay?

At this point I have a hissy fit, yell and scream a lot and hurl all sorts of abuse at the likes of Margaret Court.  I am not part of some ‘minority’ out to change the world.  I want acceptance and to live with all people in our community.

The article by Court was printed in the middle pages of today’s Herald Sun, it had a two page spread with the headline “Priority is to protect marriage”.  On the right of the article was this small piece by Doug Pollard.

There is so much to pull apart from Court’s vitriolic writing, I don’t even know how to start.  The Herald Sun should hang it’s head in shame for printing such an obviously inflammatory and vilifying article that has the potential to cause great harm.

My sexuality is not a threat or a danger to the next generation.  My sexuality is not a choice.  My sexuality is not something that needs to be cured.

I can’t begin to describe the feeling of disgust and revulsion that I feel after reading this article.

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Nov 13

I talk to my two children all the time.  Sometimes, they talk to me.  As Tomas did recently, to talk about an upcoming play for drama that his class was working on.

Tomas wasn’t so keen to participate as he was worried I might frown up the topic, which was the Westboro Baptist Church.  The Reverend Fred Phelps runs the church and uses the slogan “God hates fags”.

Just as an aside, there is no god to hate fags.

I was happy that Tomas raised it with me, and we spoke about the implications of doing a play based on such hate. I had a few questions about the content and then told Tomas that as he’s only acting, he should do it.  I’ve been abused and vilified many times in my life because of my sexuality.  I was pretty sure I could cope with this.

The expected performance date arrived, however they weren’t quite ready, so the play was moved to 4.00 p.m. during the week.  I really didn’t want to miss this, so I left work, not worried about leaky roofs, telco technicians or illegal rubbish dumpers!  They could all wait until tomorrow.

It was made clear from the outset that the play was mostly unpolished, the play was the work of the students and it had some swear words in it.

First scene was a sermon from Fred Phelps in his church, telling us that god hates fags.  It was certainly something to sit in the theatre and hear those words spat out by a teenager.  A few nervous titters from the audience as we copped the full force of the hatred emanating from the Westboro Baptist Church.  We had a choir singing “God hates fags”.

We got the perspective from some young members of the congregation who looked into the distance and said that’s where the gays live, and showed how indoctrination can impact on children. They showed a fear of people they’d never seen.  Thought that the gays were monsters and to be avoided.  The dissenting voice among them was corrected by peer pressure and the hate continues into the next generation.

We also had a taste of the ‘traditional family’ where the talk was about slavery (being acceptable) the roles of men and women and the tension between those traditional roles where women are fundamentally subservient to their husbands.

Finally there was a coming out scene. We saw two families.  One family embraced their son,the other family rejected him.

This was quite an emotional moment as we saw the full impact of rejection on a young man.  His family cast him out.  He was left devastated and in tears.

The other family offered nothing but love and support for their gay son.  They embraced him, hugged him and accepted him for who he was.

I grew up in a time when people hated people who were gay.  It was nothing to be called a poof, a poofter, a fag or a faggot. Despite trying to be a small target, my school life was full of taunts and rejection, it really did hurt.

To see a bunch of teenagers actually stand up on stage and take on homophobia in such a direct way is a marvel.  Sure, it was challenging to sit there and listen to laughter at the expense of ‘the fags’ but as the play progressed there was less laughter from the audience.  A few times I wanted to stand up and make a speech about the real impact of this type of homophobia.

The students did a fantastic job, giving me hope that in some parts of the world everything will be alright.  Sure, there’s still hatred and misinformation out there, but here is a school, a student body, who has respect for all people.

Congratulations to them all.

Oh, and somewhere during the crowd scene, I’m sure I heard the call of a wild wookie.

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