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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Dec 31

Not normally one for pondering the year that has been, I find myself doing just that.  Although, I’m pondering a lot more than just the last 12 months.

In the short-term I find myself in a state of bewilderment.   You see, I work with a small team of people at work and one of them was killed just before Christmas.  Her husband has been charged with homicide, and I just can’t find a spot in my mind where that makes sense.  The impact has been enormous and I’ve struggled to make sense of it.  At the same time I’ve had to give support, space and understanding to others, something that I’ve done quite willingly.  I can feel that part of me that needs to be busy in a crisis.  I work where I do because the people I work with do great work in a range of areas, including family violence.  I’ve seen reports, heard the stories and know that violence happens.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand why some men think this is a way to solve a problem.  I want this to stop.  When it touches you so close to home it becomes real, not just something you read about or see on the TV.

The last couple of years has also been sad with other deaths, my sister, my mother and earlier this year my father.  It’s been a tough time.  The thoughts of them intrude frequently as I remember, recall and see them in my mind. I have the photos, videos and memories of these people.  Despite everything, they are treasured memories.

The death of my parents in particular has been a relief too.  My greatest fear was being rejected by my parents.  Now without that worry I really do finally feel free.  How bad is that I wonder.  A 50-year-old gay man still fearful of what his dad thinks.  I’ll tell you what he thinks, he thinks that I’m a woolly woofter.

When it comes to the emotions of life, common sense has little to do with it.  In all likelihood my sexuality would probably not have been a concern to them at all.  Possibly they would be too polite to actually say anything about it.  Reality says two things – I’ll never know what they thought, and it no longer matters.

So, I have a new-found freedom.  This new-found freedom helped me one night in Bali to look into the eyes of my beautiful man and ask him to marry me.  He, with a tear in his eye, said yes.  Who’s the woolly woofter now?

He comes with a pre-arranged family, parents who accept and love him for who he is, a brother, sister-in-law, a niece and nephew, aunty, cousins and friends who just don’t give a single low-flying duck about his sexuality, oh, and they also love him. I’ve been accepted into the fold and have the deep sense of the family madness that comes with that.  I have to say, that’s wonderful.  Oh, they’re not really mad either, my lot has the madness refined to a much better level of insanity.

The last two years have also been an incredible deep personal journey for me too.  I’ve grown so much on the inside, mentally.  For years my brain has been a muddle.  I fully expect that to continue.  However, some of it has become unmuddled.  This release has seen me lose well over 30 kgs., and go from sitting on my arse to actually running, I did a 8 kilometre run this morning.  It’s also seen me grow into a new work role that quite frankly surprised me, I managed to achieve a Diploma in IT and quell the side of my personality that was up for a fight, mentally that is, not physically, although my mind rarely rests.  I guess that a dose of muddle comes with that.  I have started to talk to people, to connect face to face instead of by email.  That’s simply amazing for me, a man who wouldn’t approach you personally unless I absolutely had to.

It’s important to go back over more than the last two years to make sense of the journey that gets me to this point.  I don’t know how long it’s taken to get here.  I do know that the trip has been bad.  I’ve been married, for the wrong reasons, I’ve used my mind to shield and bury my sexuality.  You know, in denial.  I’ve used that same mind to keep people at a distance, to be argumentative and unwelcoming.  There’s a lot in that to undo.  I will always be in the undoing mode.  I want to understand me, I want to question and hopefully find the answers.  For the first time in years I really do feel free.

I’ve also moved positions on marriage.  I’ve gone from being married to Jennie, despite all, this was a great relationship.  When we broke up I didn’t want to get married ever again.  I’ve moved to fighting for the right to get married in Australia to now actually wanting to get married.  That alone is a big trip!

I still have battles to fight.  I can’t get married to Michael in Australia.  Some religious people still get up my nose.  There are still people who struggle to make ends meet.

In all of this world, we still have large sections of it that are opposed to my personal, private relationship with Michael.  It’s said to be harmful, wrong and the end of civilisation.  To me it just feels like love.  I know that what Michael and I have is not a threat to anyone, neither of us want to convert anyone to the ‘gay lifestyle’ (other than Hugh Jackman and a couple of other hunky types…).  In Russia the persecution of gay people is on the increase.  In Uganda homosexuality has been criminalised with prison time.  Evangelical Americans continue to spread misinformation about us (and therefore me) and continue to demonise and demoralise people for no good reason other than their interpretation of the bible that I reject outright.

People starve, people die from preventable disease.  Women are killed at the hands of men, children are abused by religious.  Gay people are vilified, racism continues, misogynists exist.  From this angle the world seems depressing and closed.

In my world, I have love.  I have acceptance.  I see my Tomas and Caitlin grown and developing into their own lives.  I feel my partner at my side, partners in life.  I have a great sense of family, which, I’ve discovered I can hand-pick.

I feel that it’s only right that in an act of defiance that I should say to the Australian Government, Fuck You!  If you won’t let me get married, then I will just nick off somewhere else and do it.

I love Michael, he loves me.  We are engaged.  The next step is to be married.  It’s what we do as a society.  Marriage brings with it a public commitment and recognition of the relationship we have to each other.  It says more than just a couple living together in a de-facto relationship.  It carries more weight to say, “Please meet Michael, my husband” and not “Please meet Michael, my partner”.

Sure, it’s not for everyone, but I now know that it’s for me.

Those of you that have been part of my journey, thank-you.  Buckle up, there’s more to do.

If I can go from one short fat lazy Australian to a 50-year-old, fit, slim bloke, then there is nothing we can’t do.   No matter where this ends up, you take care of yourself, never stop asking questions and always be willing to change.

So, I leave my ponderings now, I wish the world a happy New Year and I wish you well.

5 years between photos

5 years between photos

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Sep 11

The stage was set.

Michael and I were at a fabulous restaurant, Bridges in Ubud, Bali.

We arrived to be welcomed back by the staff who remembered us from the lunch we’d had there a few days earlier.  The restaurant was romantically lit, the colour scheme cream and dark brown with pieces of metal and rope around mimicking the nearby bridge over the Campuhan River.  We stepped out into a terrace open to the world.  A verandah overhead with fans spinning and took up our seats on the balcony.  The waiters pulled our chairs out and pushed them in for us as we sat down and fluffed our napkins for us.

To my left was the valley with the river far below, I could see the bridge with its LED rope lights marking its span.  The lush growth of the forest is highlighted by huge spot lights. The long slender coconut tree with the orchids and ferns growing from its trunk.  The banana trees with vines dangling from the canopy towards the river, the tree with so many other plants growing on it it looks ready to fall over.  In the distance we could see Murni’s where we’d eaten a few times.  To my right an English couple, happily ordering their meal and a bottle of wine.  In their 60′s probably on holiday quietly chatting with each other.

In front of me Michael.  In his blue button up shirt only worn for dinner.  Two buttons open.  His hands and fingers moving as he talks, his brown eyes looking at me, his terrific smile, he’s happy and engaged with the staff and with me as we order our meal of fish and wine.

Our conversations are always far-ranging.  We start by talking about creating software for predictive election results and how that would work.  We talk a bit about How to Vote Cards, my children and what’s happening with them, my sister Angela, Jo and Rob arriving as we leave Bali.

20130811 Gregory and MikeyThe conversation now turns towards marriage.  We have many times spoken about getting married.  I have asked many times if Michael would like to get married, his answer a rather evasive ‘moot point’ response.  Even if we want to get married we can’t in Australia.  We will wait until the law is changed and then we can talk about it, along with the obvious retort from either of us “Is that a proposal?  Aren’t you suppose to be on one knee?”

As I’ve said to him many times I actually don’t need to get married to him.  I don’t need to have our relationship recognised by anyone else.  I understand what he means to me, I know that in my heart I have a deep love for him.  There is no part of me that needs independent recognition of our relationship.  I’m in this for life.

Then, it changes.  I don’t need to get married to Michael.  I want to.  I no longer have enough words to express how much I value him in my life, what it is that we have.  I sense that I now need something that takes us to the next level.  Something that is symbolic of that love we share and the unspoken commitment that we have to each other.  I need a way to express that to him, and to those I love that here is a man who is important to me.  A man who I want to spend my life with, that I want to love and be loved by in return. A man I want to share everything with.  A man who makes my heart sing.

The question is asked, like it has been asked so many times.  Michael tries to avoid an answer.  We talk about how this is about me needing to find something that expresses the way I feel about him, how important and valuable this relationship is. He talks about how all of that is mutual, Michael has already made a commitment to our relationship in his own mind.  I sit and look and wait, it slowly dawns on him that I’m actually asking a question that now needs a yes or no answer.  I ask him, putting aside the reality of not being able to marry in Australia, will he marry me.

With tears in our eyes he says yes.

Life goes on around us, plates and glasses come and go, people chat and laugh, we look at each other with a huge amount of love and emotion as we struggle to find a way to express what’s just happened.  We shed some tears, we smile at each other we struggle with the reality of going public.

The get away to Bali has been terrific, I’ve been able to see and do things outside my everyday life.  I’ve found a partner and friend in Michael who I want to be with.   We have five solid years together.  I’ve found a way to express the depth of my feeling towards another person.  We have found a way to share those feelings with our families and friends in our lives.  We have an understanding, we have an acceptance.  We have love.

 


Michael’s blog post

 

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Sep 04

Even in far flung Ubud, Bali I have heard the noise from Australia about the Prime Minister smacking down a chrisitan who had the tenacity to ask the PM about his back flip on marriage equality.

I can’t help but make a few comments on some of the stuff I’ve read from some christian quarters about Rudd’s comments.

And let me be really clear here. I don’t like Kevin Rudd, to me he is simply another man in a suit that is bent on keeping the job of Prime Minister and has little regard for anyone else because he knows best.

In a nutshell, a christian pastor asked the christian Prime Minister how he could now support marriage equality when Jesus himself made it clear that marriage was between a man and a woman.  Rudd in his response said:

I do not believe people, when they are born, choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay. You don’t decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is – it is how people are built and, therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong. I don’t get that. I think that is just a completely ill-founded view.

He went on to say other things, have a look at the video or read the transcript.

I want to focus on this particular statement about being born gay.  This is from my own personal journey.

Some other bloggers have taken to their blogs to object to the PM’s notion that people are born gay.

Bill Muelhenberg on his blog called “Culture Watch” said this:

He (Rudd) assured us that homosexuals are born that way and cannot change, thereby calling Jesus a liar for telling us he came to set people free from their sinful lifestyles.

…snip…

It (The Bible) is nothing of the sort. It is about the truth that we are condemned sinners heading to hell, and that Jesus died for our sin so that through faith and repentance we can be set free and made right with God.

Arnold Jago – Mildura doctor and devout Catholic says this on his blog called “The Real Mary Mackillop”:

Last night on ABC-TV, Prime Minster Kevin Rudd was applauded for claiming that same-sex “marriage” is compatible with Christian thought.
Based on two assumptions:
* that homosexuality is not abnormal because some people can’t help it. “They are gay if they are born gay,” he said.
Which is not factually correct. It’s far from being that simple.
* having hopefully got away with that dubious generalisation, Mr Rudd steered further off track.
“What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament…Loving your fellow man,” he said.
Well yes. But if, in fact, homosexuality is a disorder, the way to show a man love is to warn him of his problem and guide him towards a better way.

Out there on the net are plenty of other examples of christians being upset that Rudd claims that I was born gay.

Was I born gay?  I don’t know.  Does it matter?  Not to me.  Am I disordered?  I don’t think so.

I don’t know why I’m gay but I can tell you that from a very early stage in my life I knew that I was gay.  I may not have had the words to describe how I felt and I certainly didn’t know what it meant.  But from about the age of 8 there was a part of my brain that knew that boys were far more interesting to me than girls.

In my teens I had no interest in the opposite sex and my early sexual encounters and my first serious relationship was with a man.  Women didn’t figure at all.  By the time I was in my 20′s this was causing me angst thanks to religion.  I wasn’t ‘growing out of it’ as some people seemed to suggest.  The phase I was going through seemed to be rather long.

I don’t  know where my sexuality came from, but I do know how hard I tried to get rid of it.  Ask my siblings about me growing up.  An angry youngster.

There’s claims that my sexuality may have been caused by an absent father or lack of relationship with him, it may have been caused by sexual abuse from a man, or it might have been the devil.  However, there’s 11 children, my sisters and brothers either side of me don’t appear to be gay.  Our experience in growing up is very similar.  I can only think that I suffer from 8th child syndrome, well known for causing gayness.

Being gay is not something that I learned to be.  In fact the reverse is true.  I did my best to learn to be straight.  I even got married and had kids to prove that I was a true blue Aussie bloke able to scratch my nuts, spit, swear and make disgusting statements about sex.

Then for some strange reason that veneer broke down.  I was angry even though I thought god had answered my prayers and given me a wife and a family.  I was devout. I loved jesus and thanked him for my wonderful life.  My prayers had been answered, god had taken away the ‘sin of homosexuality’ from me.

At this stage christians will tell me that I wasn’t trying hard enough, I didn’t pray hard enough, I didn’t believe hard enough.  I gave in to temptation.  The devil made me do it.  I choose to be gay.

You’re joking, right?  Christians think I made a decision to be gay and to be subjected to a world of hatred and bigotry? Some christians think I picked a sexuality that would lead me to live in a world surrounded by homophobic believers.  I was a true catholic, I knew that sinners would go to hell.  That’s an eternity in torment.  I really believed that.  Why would I pick to spend all of time in the pits of hell?

I didn’t pick being gay, it was only when I made the decision to be who I really was, to accept that my sexuality was innate that I finally found peace.  It is only in a loving relationship with Michael that I have truly found myself.

1147590_10151828259870149_846076795_oThis is my world.  I’m not disordered or a sinner.  I don’t hate god (there is no god to hate) and I don’t need god.

I don’t need religion to define me.

I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want, go for it.

I’m not happy for other people’s belief systems to impact on me.  I reject that outright.  It’s not ok for a pastor from Queensland to suggest that there is something wrong with me, it’s  not ok for fundamentalist christians to continue the hate and the bigotry based on concepts that I have no belief in.  It’s not ok for some fundamentalists to pretend that they really love me and want me to know the truth according to them.

I am not asking anyone else to be gay, I’m not trying to change anyone’s sexuality (but if Matt Damon was interested…), I just want to get on with my life, I want to spend it with Michael, we love each other, we want to be together.

I am now happy.  Not because I’ve rejected religion or that I’ve taken the ‘easy path’ or given in to the sin of homosexuality.  I’m happy because I have accepted who I am and I’m no longer trying to be who others think I should be.

In the straight world after 5 years of being together people would ask me when the big day was.  When are we getting married.

That’s a really good question.  When am I getting married?

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Apr 29

My latest blog becomes a video!  A vlog

 

marriage equality 1Election Campaign 2010 – Media release about Danby and Marriage Equality

Interview with Michael Danby from C31 – The Shtick, 14th April 2013

Presenter: Gregory Storer

Voice over: Michael Barnett

Vlog produced by Michael Barnett and Gregory Storer

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Images:  Sourced from Wikimedia Commons.  Michael Danby, Star of David, Rainbow Flag

Map from the Australian Electoral Commission

Music from Incompetech 

Made using Open Source Software:  Blender, OpenShot, Gimp and Ubuntu

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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.

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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.

 

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Sep 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s been a couple of sad days.

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

I am determined and I won’t give up.

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Sep 21

Senator Conchetta Fierravanti-Wells gave this speech in the Senate on the issue of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, 19 September 2012.

In this blog, guest blogger, Guy Curtis looks at her speech and takes the speech apart.

I rise today to speak on the Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012. Marriage is defined as ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. This was the definition 22 years ago when I married my husband, John, and has been the definition of marriage throughout the history of humanity over the ages.

Well no, a couple of Roman Emperors are reported to have married men, and another ordered the death of people in same-sex marriages, which implies they existed at least a while ago in the past. But, more to the point, there are more than a dozen countries now that define marriage differently and they did it in the last few years, that’s part of the history of humanity now. Moreover, what CF-W is saying here is a fallacy – either appeal to antiquity, that things are right because they are old, or the naturalistic fallacy, that things should be how they are. Either reading means this is not a logical argument.

I reject the assertion that those who argue for the retention of the definition of marriage are somehow homophobic, bigoted or are opposing equal rights. It is about maintaining a tradition—a tradition that has been the bedrock of our communities, our society and the world as we know it.

On 14 August, we celebrated National Marriage Day. I am indebted to the organisers for the red and gold rosettes for us to wear on the day, but I also received a bookmark with the following Chinese proverb: ‘When there is love in a marriage,

This is the premise for the rest of the argument in the proverb. If this is to be taken (a) as true and (b) as an argument against same-sex marriage, then the implication is that people in same-sex relationships do not love each other. Those I know in them would disagree.

there is harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there is contentment in the community; when there is contentment in the community, there is prosperity in the nation; when there is prosperity in the nation, there is peace in the world.’

Retention of the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman is also about protecting the rights of the silent majority

Who are particularly silent given that they are the MINORITY in every poll on same sex marriage in the past few years. But nice tactic, you can claim support for any position by saying the minority are silent because when the polls are against you, just claim that the silent majority aren’t speaking up. You could make an irrefutable case for any rubbish by claiming most people agree but won’t say so.

and that of the institutions that have made this great nation the wonderful land in which to live. It is widely accepted

Another logical fallacy – appeal to popular opinion. Made worse, of course, by the fact that popular opinion is actually running in favour of, not against, same-sex marriage.

in the Australian community that there are certain customs and practices in any society that are unique to certain relationships. To acknowledge this does not amount to discrimination. The silent majority in this country does not support this change

I’ve made my point, this is just silly.

Indeed, there are many people who are in a gay relationships who themselves do not support gay marriage.

Name five.

Their views have also been drowned out by the vocal gay marriage minority

Sleight of hand here, she’s gone from claiming some gays are against gay marriage to claiming that gays in favour of gay marriage are a minority, not just of the population, but of homosexual people per se.

Marriage is not only a civil union but has also always been traditionally a religious ceremony

Yes, but the government’s role in it is to provide the legal recognition not the religious morality. Section 116 of the constitution seems to have slipped by the Senator entirely. And, just because religious people believe their god or gods prohibit them from marrying someone of the same sex, does this mean they prohibit people who do not follow their faith from doing the same?

whether in the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu or any other faith. It is a religious act that glorifies the significant union between a man and a woman. An important part of the marriage journey is the public vows that a man and a woman make to each other before their God which commits them to each other for the rest of their natural lives.

Sorry, but again, you are not legislating religious observance or religious rules. The constitution forbids this in section 116. But, while we’re on it, how about you do the one thing in human history that no one else has been able to and prove that God exists. If you want me to accept your argument, prove God exists, otherwise, don’t base an argument on the existence of God because it is begging the question. Oh! That’s another fallacy.

In other parts of the world, we clearly see how amending the definition of marriage has opened the backdoor to attacks on religious freedoms by challenging the churches and other religious institutions such that they would be unable to act with neither their conscience nor their religious teachings and trouncing thousand-year-old beliefs.

You mean you’d like bigots to be able to continue to freely practice their bigotry. Ok then, make sure that amendment is in the legislation, don’t reject the legislation altogether. I should note also that you have said that the problem is a “backdoor” consequence of a change to the legislation. This is the slippery slope fallacy that your good mate Senator Bernadi used to “argue” (and I use the term loosely) that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and human-animal relationships potentially getting recognition.

For example, just recently in Denmark, where same-sex marriage was legalised only earlier this year, the Church of Denmark was forced to make its churches and priests available to perform same-sex weddings. Marriage celebrants, pastors and even service providers such as photographers have suffered legal actions and fines for not approving same-sex marriage.

So if same-sex marriage is legal, or discrimination illegal, you think it is a bad thing that people can’t still discriminate. Tell me Senator, where do you stand on the Racial and Sexual Discrimination laws in Australia?’

This is not about equality; it is about the tearing down of our social fabric.

I doubt that most people who are pushing these amendments are overly religious

Are you saying that this makes them bad people?  That seems to be the implication. Do I have to tell you about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – atheists who have pledged over 100 billion to philanthropy? Do I need to tell you that atheists are under represented, as a proportion of the population, in US jails?

or even intend on staying in a monogamous relationship

You’re saying that some of the people who support others’ choice to get married if they want to may not want to be married or may not want to be monogamous themselves. So what? I can argue for the rights of asylum seekers without, myself, wanting to seek asylum anywhere. The specific wants of the person making the argument have little bearing on the validity of the argument. In fact, however, I would turn your point around and say this: Aren’t people who argue altruistically for the wants or other people with no self-interest in the outcome taking a higher moral position than you?

which begs the question: why do they want to get ‘married’

I’m married and not only am I not “overly religious” I’m not religious at all. Marriage was something that I wanted to do to publically declare my love for my partner, now wife, and for convenience and protection under the law for our assets, joint living arrangements, and children.

The chattering classes do not want to concede that, by amending the Marriage Act, they are in fact denying the rights

Me drinking a beer on my couch doesn’t make your choice to drink one too any less valid.

of the silent majority

Not this li(n)e again?

who want to uphold the sanctity and true meaning of marriage and who want to keep some tradition going in a world that seems to be forever throwing out the old and bringing in the new.

Just being afraid of change isn’t an argument.

In terms of equal rights there is no law under the Commonwealth that discriminates against homosexuals

What about the Marriage Act?

It was the Howard government that substantially removed

But given that Rudd/Gillard had to go on with the job means it wasn’t done fully. This is petty politicking to claim a victory for your side on an issue where you left the job incomplete.

the discriminatory treatment in federal laws as it applied to all interdependent relationships. The previous government took the attitude of looking at interdependent relationships and discrimination across different areas. The previous government was committed to the elimination of discrimination against same-sex couples, and it became part of a program of the elimination of discrimination in areas such as superannuation, migration and Defence Force entitlements. This was followed up by further legislation in 2008

Ok, you’ve acknowledged it the contribution of the other side, with the petty semantics of not crediting it to the people who did it.

which the coalition supported.

These wide-ranging changes now put those in a heterosexual relationship and those in a homosexual relationship on an equal platform

Except for in marriage, the issue that was before you in the Senate.

This is real equality before the law

Except for in marriage, the issue that was before you in the Senate.

There is no discrimination

Except for in marriage, the issue that was before you in the Senate.

when it comes to voting rights or salary. It is worth noting that both the UN Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights have rejected that same-sex marriage is a human right.

Because these organisations have to deal with a range or nations, some of which will not give their assent to this. However, Australia, as a sovereign nation, can choose to be less discriminatory and/or more progressive if we wish.

This is also a question of trust with the Australian people. Like the carbon tax, this government has no mandate to change the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples.

I agree with this.  Julia Gillard went to the last election saying she would not support same-sex marriage and she has been consistent. In fairness, governments often try to keep their promises, and sometimes circumstances change when in office that prevents this. The minority government status meant that the government had to change from wanting an emissions trading scheme to having a period of fixed carbon pricing preceding its introduction in order to get this through parliament. This situation was not helped in any way by Tony Abbott’s refusal to take part in the relevant negotiations. The Liberals could have held Labor to its ETS promise and no carbon tax position had they played ball, but I digress.

Before the last federal election, both the ALP and the coalition promised that they would not make changes to the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act. In fact, the coalition has long been opposed to changes to Commonwealth law that could diminish the institution of marriage. This position was represented to the Australian electorate at the 2010, 2007 and 2004 federal elections. Therefore, it was a firm government election promise to keep marriage in its traditional form. In fact, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, on at least eight occasions before the last federal election, declared ALP support for the current definition of marriage. Julia Gillard also said that the ALP would not change its position during the life of the current parliament. I have received thousands of letters and emails from constituents who do not want me to support these changes or any other changes to the Marriage Act. These far outweigh those who have written to me supporting the changes.

Probably because your position is on the record and they don’t see much hope of changing your mind.

Same-sex marriage is a 10th order issue. It galls many in the Illawarra, where I was born and where my electorate office is located, to see their local member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, championing this cause above more pressing issues for his constituents

Well no. It may have escaped your attention, or be beyond your personal capabilities, but other people can deal with multiple issues at the same time.

Throsby is one of my patron seats and, just one year since the announcement of the carbon tax, more than 1,000 workers from BlueScope Steel will lose their jobs in one of our major employment sectors—manufacturing.

First, what has that got to do with same-sex marriage? Second, social and emotional support in marriage is helpful when people face job loss, don’t you think some gay steel workers would like to be able to get married too? Third, is this another example of the Liberal party claiming that job losses not attributed by the company to the carbon tax are because of the carbon tax? My recollection was that the exchange rate was the biggest factor in this business’s decision.

BlueScope is located in Throsby, as are many of the workers who are losing their jobs. More than 1,400 people in the region have lost their jobs since September 2011 and home repossessions had gone up by 60 per cent.

And wouldn’t it be nice to give the wedding industry a boost by allowing same-sex couples to get married? Some of the people needing jobs could get them in photography, florists, catering, limo hire, and the like.

With all this happening, all the member for Throsby can think about is same-sex marriage

CF-W can apparently read minds. She should nominate for the Australian Skeptics’ challenge for proof of paranormal phenomena – there’s a big wad of cash in it for her if she’s successful.

This is not an issue of concern to the people of Throsby or the Illawarra in general.

Polls say otherwise. It is among many issues that people have an opinion on. Really? You can’t deal with more than one at a time?

This is an area which is doing it tough and it galls many in the area to see their local member focussing on this 10th order issue. I ask you, Stephen Jones: how will introducing same-sex marriage give people jobs

I just mentioned the marriage industry.

save them from losing their homes

By giving them jobs.

or lower the cost of living?

Does anyone argue that it will have any CPI impact? There are lots of cost-of-living measures rolling through in the past couple of terms of government, like the tripling of the tax-free threshold which CF-W’s party opposed.

How will same-sex marriage put the budget back into surplus?

I was unaware that anyone argues it would. The budget measures do that, they’ve been debated already. Were you there for that Senator or has it just slipped your mind?

It will do none of these things. At the present time, Australia is not in a position to be discussing an emotive, and I believe destructive, subject such as this one, when there are much more pressing issues that need to be addressed urgently.

Again, parliaments and governments can deal with multiple issues. If you believe it’s a waste of time, why waste further time making a speech on it? Why not cut your speakers list and just vote for or against so you can get on with what you feel is more important business? Oh, I know why, because you want to argue against same sex marriage and because you can’t find good arguments you’re going with this bad one.

One must ask: where will this all end? You do not have to look very far to find the answer. There are already legal challenges in Canada and Utah that have been brought forward by polygamists who claim they have a right to polygamous marriage, and polyamorous activists are relentlessly campaigning for legal recognition of their relationships.

Hang on, didn’t your buddy Cory get in trouble for such statements? If your point about same-sex marriage leading to polygamy was correct we’d see polygamy and same-sex marriage both approved of legally where the other is approved of, right? However, the facts are against this – same-sex marriage is illegal in countries where polygamy is legal and polygamy is illegal in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. Polygamy is legal in Saudi Arabia. How do they feel about homosexuality you ask? It is punishable by death there. So, not only is this argument based on a logical fallacy of the slippery slope it doesn’t accord with facts.

These relationships have already been given legal status in the Netherlands. Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby has said, ‘We do not know what the future decades may hold in terms of relationships’, and he has commented that polyamorous relationships are ‘matters for the future’. This is the thin edge of the wedge

This is the slippery slope fallacy.

Even the Greens ACT convenor, Simon Copland, has criticised Sarah Hanson-Young’s stance that marriage should be limited to only two people.

You were debating a Bill on same-sex marriage not polygamy. The Slippery slope argument NEVER holds up in a parliamentary debate because the fact is that the parliament can limit an issue in legislation in any way they want and if it is really a slope parliament can apply the brakes at any point they want.

Most Australians would find these concepts repugnant, abhorrent and destructive to our social fabric.

Are you talking about your own speech above or Senator Bernadi’s? Apart from him mentioning “creatures” and you not, they are barely distinguishable.

But this is where we are heading.

No slippery slope, bad slippery slope!’

I therefore support the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage in its current form, and I acknowledge the very important role that it plays in Australia. Marriage is a very important institution not only for the traditional Anglo-Saxon culture in this country

Aren’t you Italian by ethnicity?

but also for so many others in our culturally diverse community

So you’re saying it is important to protect and continue the discriminatory perspectives of a range of cultures not just one. Again, it’s an argument to popularity fallacy, and one that loses because the polls of individuals (who vote) rather than groups (who don’t) say the opposite!

I know that the chattering classes do not share that view and constantly denigrate those who do.

I’m noting that your argument is shithouse but I’m not doing too much particular denigration of you personally. Still, if you want your ideas to be respected, try having respectable ideas, and if you don’t want your ideas ridiculed don’t subscribe to ridiculous ideas.

As I have said, the silent majority in this country agree

As I have said, this “silent majority” line is a crock. If I say the silent majority favours same-sex marriage what’s the response? No they don’t you say! But they are silent, I say.

about the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of what is the traditional family.

I will conclude with a time-old African proverb that simply and profoundly states: ‘Don’t tear down a fence until you know why it was put up

Marriage was instituted for many reasons throughout history. Academics has cleverly concealed very detailed analysis of this question in papery things called books which are held in large publicly-accessible things called libraries.

Marriage is a unique institution in our society and it is one that we as senators and members of the Australian parliament should do everything in our power to protect and to ensure that it is supported,

Subtext: Except for letting two consenting adults who want to do it do it because of their particular match of gender.

encouraged and backed up in every way, shape and form. I will be voting against this bill

These are mutually contradictory statements.

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Aug 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to Wallace from the ACL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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