Dec 24

In November Michael and I celebrated 7 years together.

What can I say.  It didn’t take me very long to discover that Michael is a wonderful man, and after this short space of time, I understood that I wanted him in my life.  I love him.

Like all relationships I need to give care and attention to it.  I don’t always get it right, but I’m willing to change, adapt and learn from the experience of sharing our lives.

vowsWe are a married couple.  He is my husband.  For me it was important that I find a way to say to my family, my friends, and the rest of the world how important this relationship is to me.  What better way to share the way I feel about Michael than a public declaration of my love for him.  What better way than marriage to say to this key person what he means to me.

We traveled to New Zealand to get married.  It was a quick trip, part of a TV documentary called Living With the Enemy.

That meant we had to share our special event with a fundamentalist priest from the Anglican sect of christianity.  I remember him, Father David, many times asking us to explain why it was that we wanted to get married.  Michael and I had to let him into our little secret.  That we wanted to change the world!  We wanted everyone to get gay married.  As that seems unlikely it would seem that the reason for our marriage is based upon a mutual love for each other, the desire to share that with our family and community at large, and to say to each other just how important we are in each others lives.

That seems perfectly sensible.

 

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Aug 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Aug 11

Sometime ago I was standing in the kitchen, getting ready to go out for my birthday dinner.  I was listening to the radio as the vote on changing the marriage act to include “between a man and a woman” was finishing up.

I felt devastated.

Sometime ago I watched the live vote on TV on a marriage equality bill and saw Prime Minister Gillard cross the floor and vote with the Liberal party to maintain the marriage act as is.

I felt devastated.

Sometime tonight I watched as the now Prime Minister said that the marriage act was not going to change and he hinted that he would hold a referendum to protect the current act.

I feel devastated.

It’s my birthday this week.

All I want is to be allowed to be married to the love of my life.  The man who I share my life with.

Instead I get rejection.

I’m devastated.

I need your help.

 

 

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Aug 05

There’s a new anti-marriage equality group in town, apparently the ACL isn’t up to the task of hating the homosexuals enough. Ya!

Doug Pollard at The Stirrer has some good back ground on Marriage Alliance who say that they’re an independent alliance, despite the fact that the key stakeholders are all catholic.

The Alliance has just four questions it would seem:

  • Should children have the right to know their biological history?
  • Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?
  • Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?
  • Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?

Let me get those for you:

  • Should children have the right to know their biological history?

Yes.  Of course.  Who is saying that they shouldn’t?

  • Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?

Do you mean to ask if we know what happens to kids raised by gay parents?  Yes we do. They turn out well-adjusted just like other kids.

  • Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?

Nobody is redefining your family.  As a social unit it will still be there a guess what, families will be just as diverse as they are now.

  • Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?

Well yes, I think so.  Do you have any real questions?

Until these questions and more are debated and answered, we are not ready to have same sex marriage in Australia.

ToothActually, these questions have been asked, and more, and answered.  We’re ready for marriage equality.  So close your website and go back to your normal business, whatever that is for catholics these days.  (Perhaps start a support group for abused children?)

p.s. your tooth logo probably needs a root canal. 

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May 27

Just putting this out there for you to think about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 25

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

MEDIA RELEASE

For release: 24 May 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  2. A prohibition on international donations.

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

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

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

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

It’s really not a big deal.

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May 24

My eyes have been focussed on Ireland as they voted in a referendum to change their constitution to broaden the definition of marriage in that country.

“marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”

Just so we’re clear, it’s not gay marriage nor is it the right to marry a dog, several hundred other people or a bridge. It’s the right to contract in accordance with the law the right to marry another person.  You could be gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered or just plain and simply you.  All you need is another single person and you can get married.

vote yesThe people said yes.

There has been much celebrating in Ireland and around the world.  It’s historic as it’s the first country to vote on marriage equality.  Of course, there are those that are upset about the result, such as Lyle Shelton – head straight man at the Australian Christian Lobby – scared of anything that isn’t just like him.  He very quickly published a media release to tell everyone else just what we should be thinking!  He sums up his whole approach right there in the headline:

Irish marriage referendum a blow to the rights of children

He seems to ignore the 18 countries where it’s ok to get married and guess what, the kids are ok!  He’s not focussed on the Royal Commission on Institutional sex abuse where the rights of kids have been ignored and destroyed.  Nor has he focussed on the rape and abuse of asylum seekers.  No, no, he in his writings suggest that gay people are somehow causing harm to the rights of children.

The redefinition of marriage and family in Ireland this weekend is a wake-up call to Australians who value the rights of children and freedom of belief.

Yes, it’s a wake up call – the decision has been made by the people.  Not by a few lobbyists who head an outdated religious lobby group.   Of  course, family has not been redefined in Ireland.  Just who is allowed to get married, and even then, it’s not so much as a redefinition, but simply a small adjustment.  Opposite-sex couples are still able to marry.   As to the rights of children, last time I check my two were still ok, as are my nephews and nieces.  No impact at all.  Also, it’s Sunday today, no churches have been harmed so freedom of belief endures.

The Australian Christian Lobby is disappointed that the Irish movement to redefine marriage, funded by $16 million US dollars, has succeeded at a national referendum today.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said, “Over $16 million US dollars has been provided to organisations to deliver same-sex marriage over a period of 12 years in Ireland.”

Actually Lyle, that would be illegal.  Foreign entities may not fund or donate to Irish referendum campaigns. It is rather naughty of you to suggest it, especially since you seem to ignore the counter claims that the No vote has been funded by extreme right-wing American fundamentalist organisations.

Mr Shelton said despite the result in Ireland, Australia was different and he called on parliamentarians to carefully consider the consequences for children and to freedom of conscience.

“Australia should not pass a law which forces millions of Australians to pretend that a same-sex couple with children is the same thing as a mother and father with children.

Lyle is right – we are different.  Our marriage act can be changed by parliament.  No referendum is needed.  In fact, it was former Prime Minister Howard, ably assisted by the current PM Abbott that changed the marriage act to make it clear that in Australia marriage is between one man and one woman for life.  It’s ok, you can ignore the ‘for life’ bit if you like and get a divorce, but you can’t ignore the man and woman bit.

As to this rather silly notion that the law will force millions – millions I say – to ‘pretend’ that there’s something wrong with the kids of gay couples.  I mean really Lyle.  What are you going on about?  You do know that already there are plenty of couples who aren’t married raising children?  Some of those couples are married overseas but their relationship is not recognised here.  And some of them are same-sex parents.  And guess what – their kids are ok!  Perhaps you should go and meet with some of them to find out how well they’re doing.

“The redefining marriage movement in Ireland made a big effort to downplay the rights and interests of children, which ought to be at centre stage of all public policy.

The No vote played this game very well and made it front and centre of their campaign.  And guess what?  The rest of Ireland saw through it and told them how silly they are.

“Because marriage confers the right to form a family, it will be very difficult to resist further law changes allowing the exploitation of women through commercial surrogacy.

No, marriage does not confer that right.  We have a right to form a family and plenty of people do that without marriage.  Even those who get married may choose not to have children.   Surrogacy is an issue that is quite separate from marriage equality.  In fact, the attempt to wave a red flag about the exploitation of women while talking about marriage equality is a nice attempt at distraction.  The two aren’t connected.

“The only way the benefits of marriage equality can be provided to two men is to reform surrogacy laws so they have open access to donated women’s eggs and through the provision of ‘carrier’ wombs.

Uh huh.  Benefits of marriage equality?  What has this to do with two people getting married?  It would seem Lyle that you are suggesting that the reason people get married is to have children.  I don’t understand what makes you think this is a benefit of marriage as it can and does happen outside marriage.  Surrogacy again is a separate issue not connected with marriage equality.

“While some same-sex couples are already acquiring children through various means of assisted reproductive technology, this does not make severing the primal bond between a child and their mother or father right.

Acquiring?  Are you talking about a couple of women – you know, lesbians?  Nobody acquires children.  We have them.  You also turn a blind eye to those thousands of children already adopted by same-sex and opposite-sex parents.  This is the reality now and has been for a very long time.  Quite frankly Lyle, this is a furphy.

“Marriage equality abolishes in law and culture the idea that, wherever possible, children have a right to both their mother and father.

Perhaps you can point to which law and which culture that says a child has this right.  When you’ve found it then please embark upon a campaign to remove children from single parents, divorced parents and same-sex couples.  Of course, marriage equality does not abolish anything of the sort.

“If gender matters for company boards and jury selection, then how can we deny that it matters for parenting?”

Huh?

Mr Shelton said the freedom of Christian and Islamic schools teaching the truth about gender complementarity in marriage would likely come into question if marriage was redefined.

You forget about the Jewish faith.  And so it should come into question.    You seem to be of the misunderstanding that christian and islamic schools have some sort of truth that places them outside reality.  They don’t.  What you’re saying is that homosexuality is morally wrong according to your ‘truth’.  Time to get out and face the reality that there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being straight.  How long must the rest of us sit back and allow you to use your religion to deny reality?  The world isn’t flat anymore Lyle.

People providing services to the wedding industry, who because of conscience declined to participate in a same-sex wedding, would risk being punished under Australia’s anti-discrimination laws.

OK.  So we don’t yet have marriage equality in Australia – so this isn’t really an issue.  However, I would hope that if you are a baker, for example, and your website says that you make wedding cakes, then that’s what you do.  If a couple arrives and you refuse to make a cake because of your conscience, then I’d suggest you are probably in the wrong business and if you are breaking the law then you should be prepared for the consequences.  Are you really saying that religious people are outside the law?  We get to work with lots of people every day and we don’t get to discriminate based on our conscience.  It’s how we get along in life Lyle.  And my suggestion to you is that you take a good hard look at your opposition to gay people getting married.   The thing that is driving your protests is your christian belief.  Let me quote it for you straight from your bible:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So, if you want to talk about the right to exercise your religious conscience – is this what you mean?

 

 

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Sep 22

For seven days, our niece Abbey sent letters to the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, requesting that he change the law on marriage to allow Michael and me to get married to each other.

Here are her letters:

Today she received a response! She called me straight away to tell me that she had some good news and some sad news.

The good news was the PM had written back to her, the sad news was that he wasn’t going to change anything.

We talked about the sad news and I said that I didn’t think it was all that sad.  We already knew that he probably wouldn’t change his mind, but I encouraged Abbey to think about the impact she’s had.  Her friends are talking about it, she managed to reach hundreds of people by writing her letters and then some other people also wrote letters. It was good for her to hear about the influence that her efforts had, and we talked about how important it is that people just like her let people just like Abbott know what she’s thinking.  It’s how we bring about change.

Here’s what Tony Abbott wrote:

Dear Abbey,

Thank you for letting me know your views on same sex marriage.

I appreciate you letting me know about your own family. In my family, I have a sister with a female partner.  My sister’s partner is a loved member of our family.

While I respect your views on same sex marriage, I hold a different view.

My personal position is to support the existing definition of marriage.

The Government supports the current definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act. Any change to this policy would be a matter for the Coalition Party Room.

Thank you again for writing to me.  I wish you well in the future.

Yours sincerely

TONY ABBOTT

Abbey Gets A Reply

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Sep 05

vows

January 30, 2014
Stoneridge Estate
Queenstown, New Zealand

I ask everyone here today to witness that I Gregory Paul Storer choose you Michael Nathan Barnett to be my legal husband.

Michael, when we started our relationship, my online profile said that I understood my place in the Universe and that I was looking for the right person to share it with.  I said that mental voids need not apply.

You have been able to challenge me, reason with me and help me grow into a different man.  I have changed.  I am now a wonderfully happy person, in love with a wonderfully happy person.  You are no mental void but a man brimming with integrity, honesty, openness and love.

Michael today we face each other, I get to look into your beautiful eyes, watch your wonderful face and tell you why I’m here.

You know that I love you.  You know that despite all the wrongs in our world, all the things outside our control and all the things that we control that I willingly look at you and say you are the one that I want to be with.  You are the one that I choose to spend my time with.

I smile when I see you.  I look for you when you’re not here.  I revel in sharing the outdoors with you.  I delight in our conversations about the world.

We walk through the bush and climb to the top of mountains and look in awe.  These are times together that make my heart go zing.  You make my heart go zing.  It’s doing it right now.

So, today, with my heart going zing, I have surrounded myself with love.  I have taken the most important people in my life and brought them here.  I want the love that surrounds me, the love of my closest brother and sister, the love of my wonderful children, the love of my best friends, I want this love to surround me and I want it to surround you.

You too have brought to this place those you love, you have surrounded yourself with love.

There is here today over 200 years of marriage between our friends.  We are engulfed by love.

I stand before everyone here to say to you that I love you.

I love your passion for others.

I love your sense of justice.

I love your thoroughness.

I love your humour.

I love your integrity.

I want you to be my husband.

I want to share all of my life with you.

I want to explore the world with you at my side.

I want to discover the universe with you.

I choose you to be my husband.

 


You can read the vows Michael said to me here

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Sep 04

The SBS program, Living with the Enemy episode on marriage equality was a 50 minute show shot over 10 days.

CMTAMNGP

That means a lot has been left out as the production team go to great efforts to keep the story moving forward and connecting all the dots.  Tough calls are made on what’s in and what’s out.

I don’t have a problem with that, I’m very comfortable with how things landed, the show was extremely well put together and there simply isn’t room for everything.

It was interesting that David’s brother acknowledges that he is still attracted to men, despite now being married to a woman.  The bit missing is my own journey of being gay in my teens and early 20’s, then pretending to be straight, getting married to Jennie at 26, having two children and then finding that didn’t work and back to being true to myself.

I played the game.  I got married, had children and tried to be a heterosexual.  It’s really hard work and as I said in the show, it took me all the way to 35 to sort myself out.  I can only hope that David’s brother has found happiness in his life.  Denial is a very powerful force that can really mess you up.  I know.  But just because that is my experience doesn’t mean that everyone else will travel the same road.

My two children are an important part of my life.  We have always lived together and they did give a speech at the wedding.  It was wonderful and brought me to tears.

Hello everyone.  I’m Tomas

And I’m Caitlin.

For those of you unaware, we are Greg’s beloved children.

We can’t quite express how overjoyed we are to be at this point, sharing in this moment with Dad and Michael.

Ever since we were young, my sister and I have understood and supported our father’s sexuality, joined him in his fight for equality.

And I speak for the both of us when I say we have never been happier or prouder of him than we are today.

Though it may not be quite what you had hoped, being neither on Australian soil, nor by Australian law, we’re glad to have been here for the next big step of your relationship.

Witnessing the love that you share.

And looking forward to whatever else may come in the future.

Be it another wedding in Australia

Adoption

Or one of us finally moving out.

No matter what, we have greatly enjoyed being part of this journey, and take great pride in being part of the march that is to come, through blood, sweat and tears.

Congratulations to you both.

It’s signed:

Congratulations on a beautiful ceremony.

With much love, Tomas and Caitlin.

It was fantastic to have both of my children with me on this very important, significant life event.

 

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