Dec 08

This feels like the end of a long journey.

Marriage equality is now a reality, and very shortly my marriage to Michael becomes a legal reality in Australia.

It’s not a same-sex marriage; it’s not a gay marriage, it’s not a civil union, it is a marriage. In the eyes of the law of the land, we are equal.

Not everyone will see it that way, of course. To some being non-heterosexual is still an abomination, detestable, immoral. Those that think that fought hard to ensure that the status quo remained and at the very least, they should maintain their right to believe that about their fellow humans.

Of course, they are free to think that.

Yesterday I saw an extraordinary sight. The whole of the Australian House of Representatives moved to one side of the chamber to vote yes for marriage equality. Those that couldn’t bear to bring themselves to vote yes left the chamber and just 4 of them voted no.

What a moment.

I recall the last time a vote happened on the floor. It was 2012. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard sat with the Opposition led by Tony Abbott to vote no. The division this time was very different.

We didn’t all make it to this point. Some of our community died waiting; some died because they couldn’t bear the strain. However, some of us did make it, and we can’t believe it.

So, yesterday with Tomas, my 23-year-old son, I sat in the State Library of Victoria watching the proceedings on my tablet. We had headphones plugged in and shared an earpiece. The day wore on. I’d sat there from 10.30 listening and watching and waiting for the magic words to be uttered.

It was a long time. I listened to many words of concern that somehow freedoms were about to disappear, somehow the ‘gay mafia’ would be coming after anyone who stood in our way of equality.

Then finally all the amendments and the delaying tactics were at an end. Not one single change was made to the bill. It was time for the final vote.

And there it was. I didn’t know what to think. I knew that I was happy and I knew that I wanted to be with my friends, those of us that have been on this journey. I knew I wanted Michael to share this moment.
I think I was in stunned silence. I packed up my things at the library and Tomas, and I made our way to The 86 Cabaret Bar, that’s where I was sure some of my friends would gather.

We got off the tram, right outside the bar, and sure enough, there was Antony and Ron. Anthony. Ali, Kirrily, Roxy, Chrissy, Menachem, .

We hugged.

We drank.

We looked at each other in disbelief.

I knew, however, that I was holding it in. I knew that I felt this great welling up of emotion deep within me. I needed Michael. He is the one person who I most wanted to see right now. We’d been in touch during the day chatting online, keeping up with the goings-on in Parliament. It was well after 6; he’d finished work and was on his way.

I desperately wanted to see him, so when he messaged me to say that he had arrived and parked the car, I went outside, onto the street to wait.

There he was, across the street, doing a little jog, although I’m not at all sure if that was to avoid the torrential downpour or to get to me quickly.

He pushed the buttons on the pedestrian crossing. We locked eyes with each other. Smiled.

I now moved towards him as he crossed the road and that pent-up emotion could be contained no longer. With him, in my arms, I gave him the biggest hug I could muster and began sobbing. I cried so much in his arms, uncontrollably.

It wasn’t just today’s anxiety and stress. There were 13 years of outpouring.

In August 2004 I stood next to a radio and listened as the Senate passed legislation to make marriage a discriminatory act. I felt a part of me die that day.

I’d only just come to terms with my sexuality. I was looking for acceptance. The greatest fear I had then was that of rejection. I had some friends I was out to, some I wasn’t. It was getting messy to keep the lines clear in my head.

Then the Howard Government, together with the Labor party amended the marriage act to exclude me specifically.

And now, that great wrong was undone.

The cost has been high.

My relationship with Michael was thrust to the front with the announcement of the plebiscite, then the postal survey. My mental health, already fragile, took another knock and I slipped into depression before I even knew it. My career suffered as I struggled to make sense of what was happening. I left my job to take the pressure off myself and to ensure that my workplace didn’t suffer because of my inability to function.

This is the real human cost of this whole process.

So, while our politicians congratulate themselves as they all gathered on the one side of the chamber, I’m here to tell you I won’t forgive you. Ever.

My life has been turned upside down. I have worn my heart on my sleeve. I’ve been out, gay and proud in an effort to right this gross wrong forced upon me, Michael and millions of other Australians.

I’ve marched, met, yelled, written letters, videos, audio, interviews, TV doco, news stories, podcasts and probably other ways of communicating how dreadful this has been.

To those who opposed this for vague religious reasons, you’re responsible. Instead of getting out of the way and letting a small section of society get on with their lives in a fair and reasonable manner, you made it about yourselves. As if you’re the victims. Now you want to be the oppressed.

There are apologies due from you. There are apologies due from our Parliament.

Now, I’m getting married. I will be able to say that Michael is my husband with no need to qualify that with ‘we got married in New Zealand in 2014’.

And, alas, it’s not over yet. We still can’t ease off as the defeated forces regroup and try to find a way to diminish the victory.

Thank you. I know lots of you from religious belief have been with me on the journey. Your willingness to support and love other people is outstanding. Thank you.

Thank you to the 6,800 members of our Facebook group, Second Class Australians. You guys are amazing, you’ve been on the journey, and it’s been rough.

Thanks to those of you that are my close friends. I needed you, and you were there.

Thanks to my family. In our way we have been there for each other.

Thank you to Michael. You are an amazing man. Together we did this. You are my activist, you are my lover, you are my man, you are my Mikey Bear, you are my husband.

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Sep 27

My posts of late have been videos about the marriage equality ‘vote’ here in Australia.

It really is a tough time for me right now.  I’ll never forgive the parliament of Australia, my government, for putting me through this ‘debate’.  It is completely unnecessary.

For me, this mess comes at a time when I’m trying to study, my daughter is preparing for her marriage, the mother of my children is at the sticky end of her long battle with cancer, I’m settling into a new house, my son is settling in a new life at uni, my husband is in full-on activist mode, the dog next door barks all day long, my savings are dwindling, my emotional well-being is at an all-time low.

So, pardon me while I take a big mind-fart and say fuck you.  Not you, the person over your shoulder who thinks I shouldn’t be allowed to get married for reasons that only they understand.

At this time my resilience is really low.  It’s easy to become hyper-sensitive to every little slight that floats across a social media feed.  I can feel the tension in the community.  We are all feeling it to some degree.

In all of this, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by, I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do, they’re really saying I love you.

That’s my song.

Here’s a rendition that had tears running down my cheeks.

I will not stop fighting for my own personal human rights, and I will fight for the rights of those in the GLBTIQ community.  We are all human.

The world is wonderful.  I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, I have a right to be here.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

(no, I haven’t rediscovered god.  I don’t conceive a god at all, I’m at peace with that, relax)

The world is wonderful.

I don’t do this alone.  Michael is beside me.  Caitlin and Tomas are there.  My family is right behind me.  My friends are supportive.

The reason the world is wonderful is because of love.  All these people love me for who I am.

Thank you.

You make the world wonderful.

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Sep 14

The box has been marked and we’ve sent our survey forms back.

I can’t begin to tell you how bad this makes me feel.

Maybe one day soon I’ll do that.

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Aug 10

There’s so much to think about because the government have moved to a postal vote for marriage equality in Australia. In this 10 minutes I share why I’m having trouble coming to terms with why people should vote on my right to get married.

Please share!


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Jun 02

Recently I was on the tele talking about Margaret Court’s foray into the marriage equality debate.  Court is a tennis legend, won all sorts of games in the 60’s and 70’s.  She was good at watching a small green ball and hitting it with a stick with strings.  That’s my understanding of tennis.


And here’s Michael earlier in the day talking with Neil Mitchell on 3AW

Court has decided to say some very outdated things about GLBTIQ people over the last week.  There have been calls for the renaming of a court at the Melbourne Tennis Centre named in her honour, The Margaret Court Arena.

The debate has been raging between those who claim that Court is being bullied, those against renaming the court and those who think we should.  Everyone has an opinion.

At the heart of all of this is a single concept.  Free Speech.

Just what is it you’re allowed to say in public?  Of course, you can say anything you like.  Court has spoken in public,  she has used her legend status to be heard.  Now she is claiming that her free speech is being denied, despite having full access to the media and being able to further her ideas and still be heard.

What we’re really seeing here is important.  It’s about what’s acceptable topics in modern Australian society. We are deciding what our community standards.  Australians are struggling with that very notion.

The same as we’ve struggled with holocaust deniers, racist statements and misogyny.  We are witnessing an adjustment in attitude.

It’s simply no longer appropriate to use a public forum to express views that vilify the GLBTIQ community.  It’s not OK to call us products of the devil, say we can’t raise children, or even that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The days of saying those things in public are passing.  You can see it happening before your eyes.

Before those that will be upset by this notion cry about free speech.  The free speech has been flying for years, and society is saying enough is enough.  Modify your language if you want to have discussions in public.  You’re not being told that you can’t hold your views, you’re not being told to change your views.  You are perfectly entitled to believe whatever you like.

As a society the expectations of community engagement are undergoing an adjustment.  Just like there are the deniers, the racist and the misogynist still out there, they have mostly being told to shut up.

Bigotry around gender diversity and sexual orientation is next.

Our society will be better when that bigotry is added to the list of unacceptable talking points.

Time to adjust the attitudes.

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Apr 02

News Ltd continues its unwarranted attack on Michael, ignoring the substance of his activism.  Piers Akerman is the latest bully to make shit up.

IT’S a sad truth that those who so recently claimed to be the bullied are now among the world’s greatest bullies.

Great way to start an article, an assertion, without any substance.  Essentially saying that we, the GLBTIQ activists, that are being bullied by the media, are in fact the bullies.  And we’re really good at it, we’re up there with the greatest of the world’s bullies.

None more so than the ­alphabetical jumble of the ­gender confused in their pursuit of the destruction of the ancient and revered traditional form of marriage.

Straight into it then, lets insult the GLBTIQ community, call it a jumble and tell us were confused and want to end the world!  This notion that we want to destroy marriage is plainly and clearly stupid.  Marriage will continue once marriage equality is here.  How then will it be destroyed?  Simply, it won’t.  People will get married, some will have children, some will stay together, some will divorce, some will be happy, some won’t.  There will just be more of us doing it.

To his great credit, Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, called out the thugs running the so-called marriage equality and diversity campaigns and exposed them and their brutish standover tactics in an unequivocal article in The Australian on Friday.

Thugs? Brutish stand-over tactics?  Davies is kicking up that some folk dare to challenge the status quo and question the authority of the church to set the tone of the debate.  Apparently we should all just shut the fuck up and let archbishops tell us what to do.  Davies uses this antiquated church office of privilege to tell the rest of us what to think and say.  It’s been a long time since the church had any moral authority.

“Not only has this minority view tried to swamp the public debate with its introspective, authoritarian denial of free speech, it has struck at the heart of Australian democracy and the freedoms that we all cherish,” he wrote.

I really want to laugh.  However, I think he is serious.  For centuries the church has been claiming that we are deviants.  We had no way to combat this absurd claim.  We have been killed, locked up, vilified and abused.  We are finding a voice, using it to point out that our treatment is not fair.  For this he claims that we are swamping the debate!  We are denying free speech.  We are undermining democracy and freedoms.  Like we somehow have superpowers to overturn our political system.

Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies spoke out against the “same-sex marriage campaign”.

The use of quotes around same-sex marriage campaign here tries to minimise the reality of the campaign.  It isn’t something that is marginal or unbelievable.  It’s real and happening, right now.

“This narrow-minded, freedom-restricting carping is what the same-sex marriage campaign has come to.

“At the beginning, the promise seemed to be innocent enough — change one word in the marriage legislation and there would be equality for all.

“Now, as people start to ­digest the magnitude of such a social change and the ramifications that would follow for families and the rest of the community when marriage is cut adrift from the significance of gender distinctiveness (the Safe Schools Coalition program is only one of these side effects), other voices are starting to speak up.”

Sigh.  So much to do, so little time.  We start by getting married, then we will begin on the social ramifications, we’ll make sure that your children will understand that they don’t need to be restricted to the narrow-minded version of the world that archbishops see, but that the world is truly diverse and you can be who you want to be and the world won’t end.

The archbishop cited ­numerous examples of the manner in which the homosexual marriage lobby had threatened its opponents and attempted to block debate on this issue with putrid campaigns designed to target Christians, in particular, but discourage all those who refused to fall into line.

Who on the homosexual marriage lobby has threatened anyone?  We’re not blocking debate, we are leading it.  Nobody is being shut down.  That is such a laughable statement.  Here are the archbishop, Akerman, the ACL and the whole of News Ltd speaking out.  Just how are you being blocked?  You wanted a debate?  You got it.  No longer does this debate have to be on the terms you want.  I for one am sick of playing by your rules where you get to tell me how to do it.

He mentioned the forced cancellation of a meeting of church leaders last year in Sydney after staff at the planned venue were subjected to an ­extremely ugly campaign of harassment and threats.

Please refer to the centuries of harassment and threats perpetrated on the GLBTIQ community that still goes on today.  The church leaders meet in a public place to discuss strategy on how to block our efforts for equality and we should just stand back and let it happen.  Use Skype.

He pointed to the case brought against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous before the Tasmanian Anti-­Discrimination Tribunal when that archbishop merely supported the current laws on marriage, which also happen to be the view of his church — all churches — and that held by civilised nations for millennia.

The key word here is merely.  It was so much more than that.  It’s a clear example of the church flexing its control and trying to shut down debate.

Archbishop Davies also drew attention to the manner in which some so-called leaders in the corporate world had folded before social media­ attacks of online pests like serial protester Michael Barnett, whose vile Twitter feed opposing views contrary to his own gives the lie to his claim to be a supporter of “diversity”.

They’re not so-called leaders, they are the top management, CEOs and managers.  You know, leaders.  They don’t fold because someone sent a tweet.  Seriously, you don’t get to be at the top by folding every time someone sends a tweet.

Our ABC showed its own weakness in this debate by posting an apology to Barnett on Thursday which said its program The Drum had “incorrectly” drawn a connection between the marriage equality debate and Barnett’s references to corporate commitments to “Pride and Diversity”, an employer program that campaigns for inclusion for the ­alphabet soup of gender iden­tity.

Or… they realised they made a mistake.  Go figure.

There is not the clichéd cigarette paper’s separation from the issues, they are indivisible, just two sides of the same coin, but the ABC hand-wringers, signed up members to the homosexual marriage and diversity push, rushed to collapse and apologise rather than simply telling Barnett it had fully embraced his ­agenda, even if it may not have agreed with his more abhorrent tweets.

They are very different issues, however, because both issues, diversity and marriage equality, are about the alphabet soup of gender identity I can see why you’re confused.  It’s all to do with the gayz, so therefore all the same issue.  We are just a single body of people who are all in the same soup bowl.

The Barnetts of the world have adopted the bullying tactics used by the climate change lobbyists, formerly known as the global warmists.

What?  As far as a rift to change keys go, this is more like the band leaving the stage and being replaced by some kids with xylophones.  I’ll have to cut a few paragraphs where he attacks climate change, racial discrimination and the colour of black.

Confronting ideas with ideas was once the goal of great universities and the foundation of the great civilising ideas that enabled the growth of the West.

Yeah, so here we are confronting your ideas of how the world should work. Just like it’s been happening.  The world is round, it spins around the sun, around the huge galactic central point.  It doesn’t spin around you and your keyboard.  We’re busy pointing out that ideas are bigger than just doing things the way we’ve always done them.  People are more diverse than you would like to acknowledge and they too have a place in our society to be recognised as fully-fledged citizens.

You know, we’re enabling the growth of the West.  Whatever the fuck that is in a globalised world.

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Mar 30

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

I wasn’t going to write a Part 3 – I thought I’d covered it all.  However, this has taken on a life all of its own and is a good example of how the media has its own agenda and will use their strength to steamroll anyone who doesn’t meet their criteria.

Today The Australian, and I won’t link to them any more, ran another article on Michael and his activism.  They go digging into the past, give little snippets and avoid the whole story.  This tactic enables them to paint a less-than-rosy picture of Michael’s activism.

The headline screams, well, that’s a bit much, it doesn’t scream at all, it is a headline.  There in big letters it says:

Twitter troll who bullies brewers has little love for LGBTI peers

Now Michael has a bunch of new labels.  His name badge is getting quite large.  He is now a Twitter Troll and a Bully and  a Little Love.  I consider him to be my big love.  That’s all he needs on a badge.  I shall get one made up.  He isn’t a Twitter Troll.  You want to see trolls, go look on the Internet, there’s plenty of real trolls.  Michael has raised concerns with people in positions of authority over conflicts of interest.  Hardly trolling.

It’s true of Michael that for some of his peers he has little love.  I have little love for some of my peers too – I guess you probably do too.  You know, just because we’re all part of humanity doesn’t mean that we have to love everyone.  Just because we’re all part of this rather odd bunch of GLBTI people doesn’t mean we all get along.

I want to go through this article sentence by sentence, but I won’t.  Let me be selective, fill in some gaps and leave out a bunch of stuff.  After all, that seems to be the way the media operates.  They have all this essentially unlimited space online and still leave stuff out.  Go figure.

Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.

He didn’t pressure Coopers any more than the hundreds of other people did.  Likewise there has been no pressure on IBM, PwC or Macquarie University.  It’s about as much pressure as you’d apply to a leaky balloon with a bit of sticky tape, not the weight of an elephant stepping on your head.  As for ‘force’ and ‘demanding’ and ‘renounce’ I mean, really?  

Barnett doesn’t want to talk about how Aleph members tried to sack him? Star Observer, April 15, 2010:

A growing rift in Melbourne’s Jewish gay community saw a war of words via email last week, with members of gay Jewish support group Aleph accusing current convener Michael Barnett for being too hostile.

Sack him?  I was at the meeting, no mention of sacking at all.  People were very cross and expressed themselves.  Of course, what is missing here is the background as to how it came about.  It’s easy to create a picture of division when you only part tell the story.

Melbourne’s LGBTI Jews were not happy with Barnett’s bullyboy act. Star Observer, continued:

… other members of the 80-strong group had been “embarrassed” by Barnett’s constant “angry” emails and the group is now discussing ways to establish a new executive committee which may or may not include Barnett.

Yeah, that’s right.  The 80-strong group, they talked a lot.  Offered little support before they were embarrassed, made a lot of noise and disappeared up their own clackers never to be seen again.  In the long run, Michael’s ‘angry’ emails paid huge dividends in the community.

Barnett hasn’t changed his spots. Aleph’s official Twitter account, Nov­ember 25 last year:

We have cancelled our registration in the 2017 Pride March due to @midsumma accepting @newscorpaus sponsorship. First absence since 1997.

What do you mean spots?  Clearly you don’t know him very well.  Michael has remained steadfast in his commitment to diversity, celebration and acceptance of people over all the years I’ve known him.  We, he and I, continue to learn and modify our approach to how we engage.  Boycotting Pride March and Midsumma this year was because of  The Australian and other News Limited media sponsorship arrangement with Midsumma.  It was a reaction to the ongoing vilification that these media outlets engage in on a regular basis.   I still can’t believe that Midsumma didn’t give up this sponsorship.  Again, Michael’s actions are vindicated by this continuing unwarranted attack on him.

The smear campaign is supported by the Letters to the Editor in The Australian.  They show just how the influence of the media can skew the intent and influence the reader.  Here’s a smattering.

Activists are engaging in systematic persecution

A provocative headline to the letters, and simply untrue.  

I thought we lived in a democratic society where freedom of speech, religion and association were protected (“Gay rights activist turns on Christian academic”, 29/3), so I find the actions of these LGBTI campaigners disturbing. They are doing to others what they have suffered in history.

Somehow we aren’t entitled to enjoy freedom of speech?  So, others have suffered in history.  I’m here to tell you, Vita Mezzatesta from Pascoe Vale, Vic, we are suffering right now, and we are kicking back.  Using our free speech and pointing out what’s wrong with the world.

These activist groups can’t touch me directly, and so I write to express my displeasure with all the self-centred, self-serving, intolerant minorities that now attempt to control our lives. There was a time that you could just say bugger off and that was the end of it, but now they have this need to force feed their views on everyone.

You make me laugh Richard Thomson from Kent Town, SA.  Michael is not self-centred or self-serving.  Control your life?  You’d like to tell us to bugger off?  Get back in the closet perhaps?  Force their views on everyone?  Come on.  Perhaps you simply don’t like having your attitudes and beliefs so directly challenged.  Perhaps those beliefs are outdated and wrong.

Then we hear from Alex Greenwich from the lobby group, Australian Marriage Equality.  Alex is a key player in the group and a NSW MP.  This is what I’d call the lead group from our community that is leading the charge to achieve equality for us in marriage rights.  They are self-appointed.  It’s unclear as to how they are funded or how they decide what to do.  

Here’s Alex’s letter.

Our campaign for marriage equality has always been and always will be based on positive, respectful and inclusive conversations to win over the hearts and minds of Australians. The national conversation about marriage equality will only be won if people can have conversations and are allowed to ask any genuine questions they may have.

For many people, same-sex couples having access to civil marriage is a straightforward reform that takes from no one but provides a profound positive change to the lives of lesbian and gay Australians, their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends.

However, there are still people who have genuine questions and it’s important that we continue to listen and engage respectfully. It is because of our respect for the institution of marriage that we will keep engaging until we can join millions of Australians in marrying the person we love in the country we love.

As we continue along the journey to achieving marriage equality, we must do it through uniting, not dividing, and being respectful of everyone’s views along the way.

Alex Greenwich, Australian Marriage Equality, Darlinghurst, NSW

Alex has really let the side down on this one.  He has an ideal opportunity to reset the debate, but instead goes on the sneaky attack.  Essentially Michael’s activism around Pride in Diversity is thrown under the bus by AME.  Michael has supportively pushed, promoted, encouraged and engaged with AME for many, many years.  Not one of them so much as picked up the phone for a chat with him.  Not a Facebook message, an SMS or even an email.  It’s not like they don’t know who he is.  Alex says that we must achieve marriage equality through uniting, not dividing and being respectful.

Michael’s current concern has zero to do with marriage equality.  Alex could have discovered that quite easily.  He could have distanced himself by saying that Michael isn’t talking about marriage equality, he’s talking about Pride in Diversity and members of the ACL employed by organisations that pride themselves on the diversity.

Let me put this as clearly as I can.  The ACL is not the church, they don’t represent a denomination.  They exist to promote their version of christianity, and in that version there are no gay people, no lesbians and no transgender people.  They might tolerate the bisexuals if you only have married sex with the opposite sex, and intersex people if you have surgery to conform to either male or female.  The Lachlan Macquarie Institute is wholly owned by the ACL.  

These two organisation are intolerant of anyone that isn’t heterosexual.  They pretend to be nice, but underneath the facade is a real desire to spread their version of Christianity far and wide.  They are not our friends.  They seek only to have it their way.  They represent a very small part of our society, even smaller than the GLBTI community.

They are not our friends.

Alex had the chance here to give them a kick in the nuts, instead he plays the nice gay boy who doesn’t want to upset the apple cart.  The News Limited media support the ACL.  They don’t play nice and need to make Michael out to be the bad boy, hold him up as an example of what is wrong with the ‘gay lobby’.  Make their readership, that already hates us, justify that hatred.  We play into their hands, and to the hands of the ACL when we, the activist, the ‘gay’ lobby groups and the ordinary GLBTI folk placate them, pretend we are being inclusive when in fact the media is driving the wedge between us and the rest of society.

That is a missed opportunity.


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Mar 30

In Part 1 I looked at the background of how Michael’s tweets started, what was driving them and the conflict between holding personal views that are at odds with those you’ve signed up for in the work place.

To recap, Board members of the right-wing religious institution, the Lachlan Macquarie Institute hold positions in organisations that are part of Pride in Diversity, an organisation that benchmarks diversity in Australian workplaces to gauge how inclusive those workplaces are.  The institute is fully owned and run by the Australian Christian Lobby, an organisation that lobbies to keep gay people out of the public sphere and deny equal rights because that’s what Jesus would want.

Michael’s activism in this case has been around the conflict between the two organisations; a simple question of how can you deny the GLBTI community their place in society (Institute’s view) while working at a place that encourages and values the GLBTI community.

The Australian newspaper, owned by News Limited, is no friend of the GLBTI community.  News Limited constantly publish stories, opinion and cartoons that vilify me and everyone in the community.  It’s not a pretty look for a news organisation.

The non-heterosexual citizens of Australia have long been the plaything of the media.  They love to get a good ‘gay’ story to play with.  It drives people to read and interact with their publications. It enables them to generate outrage and to dehumanise those who are different.  I’ve seen it time and time again and have blogged on it.

This is the ultimate.  To take a few tweets and conflate them into something quite ugly.  The tweets asked the two organisations how it was possible for someone who clearly doesn’t support diversity is able to hold positions of leadership at both organisations.

Once The Australian had run front page stories on this, other media ran with it.  However, The Australian made the issue about marriage equality, which it has never been about.

Let’s just track this through a little.

It all starts with the head honcho of the ACL and openly-straight man, Lyle Shelton.  I  say openly straight because whenever someone is not straight, they need to be labelled as such.

Wilson, an openly same-sex attracted man, spoke in favour of redefining marriage and Hastie, an unashamed “Bible reading” Christian spoke for retaining the definition of marriage.

Moderated by Matt Andrews, the short video was simply designed to showcase the Biblical virtue of disagreeing agreeably as part of the Bible Society’s 200th anniversary celebrations. The issue being discussed was immaterial as the Bible Society has not been a participant in the political debate.

I assume that Matt Andrews is an openly opposite-sex attracted man.  It would help if Lyle said so, just so we are clear.  I’d hate to think he was some middle-aged gay bear.  In his meandering blog post Lyle says:

A quick scroll through the #boycottcoopers hashtag on Twitter revealed many of the same vicious people who troll me.
Michael Barnett (Twitter handle @Mikeybear), for instance, was instrumental in spooking Price Waterhouse Coopers last year because one of their senior partners was a board member of ACL.

Lyle goes on to bring every other issue dear to his heart into the blog and finishes with the Leak cartoon of men in rainbow uniforms, a really very disrespectful and downright vilifying cartoon.

At this stage, Michael has called for Coopers to clarify if they support marriage equality.  Which it turns out that they do.  All good in a days work.

Then we have all these CEOs from top Australian companies signing a letter that calls for the government to make marriage equality a reality in Australia.  This made big news, everyone was onto that one, after all one of the people to sign the letter was Alan Joyce, an openly-gay CEO.

Mr Dutton yesterday suggested CEOs, including openly gay Qantas boss Alan Joyce, should “stick to their knitting” rather than trying to “bully” governments into certain positions.

And here starts this notion that writing a letter asking for something is bullying.  It’s a theme that the media and lobby groups love to tout.  It would seem that if you disagree with another’s point of view that somehow makes you the bully.  If you tweet about something that makes other uncomfortable you’re a bully.

The Australian’s Rebecca Urban,  then publishes this headline:

Jewish LGBTI activist defends his role in Coopers boycott saga

along with this paragraph,

A vocal gay rights activist has defended his role in the Coopers boycott saga, claiming he did not accept that the company was hounded into professing public support for marriage equality.

Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, said it was unfortunate the brewer had severed its long-term relationship with the Bible Society in response to the backlash over its beer featuring in a “lighthearted” debate about same-sex marriage.

Michael is now a gay rights activist, a Jewish convener.  Neither label is appropriate.  Any more than an author being called Rebecca Urban, Lesbian Writer and Member of the Knitters Minders Club.  (I made both of those up).  Why define Michael as Jewish, what’s the point of that, apart from saying to everyone something along the lines of look – this gay Jewish poof is getting out of line.  This Jew is telling us Christians how to do things.  He’s way too vocal, let’s put him back in his box.

The next part in the saga happens when Michael notes that a member of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute board is also on staff of IBM.  IBM, as I discussed last time, is pretty big on Pride in Diversity.  Our Lesbian Writer and Chief Knitter takes to her paper and says:

Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia is being targeted by ­militant gay rights activists who have condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a ­Christian organisation.

Urban makes it about marriage equality.  Which it isn’t.  It’s about the conflict between the company diversity policy and an executive’s personal position.  We now have more labels; Michael is now militant and gay.  Militant.

Others jump into the discussion.  Andrew Bolt uses the phrase ‘Totalitarian Gays’, the ACL says he uses ‘standover tactics’, he’s on a witch-hunt on the ABC.  The Australian editorial calls him a ‘Jewish Campaigner’, the ABC’s God Forbid show thinks he is ‘thin-skinned’ and somehow free speech is under attack.

Meanwhile all sorts of abuse is hurled our way with none of the big guys calling anyone to account for their hatred and vilification.  Not IBM, not Macquarie University.  Silence.  They’ll just ride it out.

The best bit comes when the ACL takes the really odd step of removing all directors information from their website and asks the ACNC to remove details from the public database, something about safety fears.  Pretending that somehow hordes of the gayz will descend upon them with desires to gay marry them to their knitting or something.

The saga will go on I’m sure, and from where I stand I’m aghast at how quickly the media gets off track and makes things up.  I’m not surprised at all.  It’s the way it works.  It’s important to have a villain in every story.  The Australian love to vilify those who aren’t, well, aren’t like them.

Michael’s actions are described as ‘the gay lobby’, ‘rainbow agenda’ and various other untrue areas.

And where are the gay lobby groups in all of this.  Where is our gay press?


Not only has nobody from Australian Marriage Equality told him to shut up, they haven’t uttered a single word of support.  Not one of the Just Equal crowd have re-tweeted or Facebook-ed a message of support.  The gay press is silent and happy to let it run.

Yes, there’s support out there, plenty of it.  Michael runs alone with this, doing what I would see as good work it holding big corporations to account, as much as a single solitary person can.

It’s not an easy task and we often talk about how each of us handle the onslaught, how we respond and what we think about our approach.  We do it with respect and love.  Something that other parties should think on.  It doesn’t take much to respect other people and to question why they are doing this.

There will be a Part 3, there’s more to talk about.

To finish, the Twitter sphere is going off and there are plenty of nasty people lining up to tar us with all sorts of things.



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Mar 29

It all starts with a tweet:

That’d be my activist husband.  He calls himself on his Twitter profile:

Campaigner for human rights and equality.

Not gay rights, not marriage equality rights, human rights and equality.  For everyone.

Of course, it’s not so simple to say it all starts with this tweet.  Michael had already piqued the interest of The Australian following the Coopers Brewery debacle with the Bible Society and a couple of right-wing Liberal party members.

The misinterpretation and bad reporting by just about everyone starts with this tweet:

Sure, Michael gets sweary.  Some people find that challenging.  I myself try to limit my swearing to private conversations, I’m not always successful.  I don’t find tweets with ‘fuck’ in them much of a problem.  It’s easy to pick up on public swearing as some sort of measure of a person’s moral standing.  Or, you could use it as a measure of the stress and frustration by Michael when a section of society sees non-heterosexuals as deviants, perverts, sinners and plain and simply evil.  They play nice, say nice things, they mean really mean things.

As an aside, as I don’t want to dwell on the Coopers Brewery situation too much.  My objection to this was simply that the Bible Society thought it suitable to have a light-hearted conversation about marriage equality.  That is, my right to have my marriage to Michael recognised by the State.  Human rights are not something our politicians should be having a light-hearted conversation about over a beer.

The Australian has led the charge in indignation following Michael’s tweets.  They’ve splashed his name across the front page of their newspaper and generated quite the media storm with various outlets making assumptions. Most of those assumptions are incorrect.

I can categorically say that Michael has not asked for anyone to be sacked.  I can also say that he has not made a connection between the current marriage equality quest and people belonging to the Australian Christian Lobby’s board or the Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board.  It is so much more than that.

So, the background.  Michael has tweeted about Mark Allaby from IBM and Steven Chavura from Macquarie University.  IBM and Macquarie University are part of Pride in Diversity.  These men also sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

Pride in Diversity runs the Australian Workplace Equality Index.  Organisations undertake the bench-marking for a variety of reasons, at the crux of the work is the value that they see in ensuring that their employees are happy in their workplace and that managers are supportive of the diverse workforce they have.

IBM is considered a silver tier employer in 2016 benchmarks.  That is, they have undertaken a significant amount of work in the area of GLBTI inclusion and are currently very active in the space.  Macquarie University are on the bronze tier, they have provided sufficient evidence of work in the space to be considered to have GLBTI inclusive workplace.  Both organisations take their workforce seriously in relation to inclusiveness and diversity with respect to the non-heterosexuals amongst them.  The Pride in Diversity participation is voluntary, and I would guess seen as important to these workplaces, it’s a lot of work to get to the top rankings.

I’m sure that IBM and Macquarie University have staff ethics statements and codes of conduct that talk to this diversity.    One of the sections in the benchmarks is about policy and practice.  Like all workplaces you would be expected to sign these codes and statements in good faith and agree to abide by them.

Lachlan Macquarie Institute is attempting to train up-and-coming leaders of the future.  They would like them to carry the Christian message into their public lives.  They are guided by a board, and that board is very similar to the board of the Australian Christian Lobby.  The ACL has been going out of its way to make life for people like me difficult.  The Institute’s director writes this on the web site:

What we seek to achieve by this programme is the transformation of the nature of politics and governance in Australia. By helping develop the character and intellectual foundations of future politicians, journalists, advisors and public policy influencers before they step into public life.  The hope is that  we  will see more decisions based on a solid understanding of what is good, true and beautiful in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”

– 2 Corinthians 5:20

Nick Jensen – Director – Lachlan Macquarie Institute

In a nutshell, they want to train people to carry the hard-right religious message into the world.  That message that says the only good thing in the world is heterosexuals, white and middle class.

How then is it possible for Allaby and Chavura to sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute while at the same time working in organisations that actively work to attain status in the Pride In Diversity Program?

This is the question that is being asked.  The evidence of the staff at both organisations would appear to be at odds.  Further questions I think that are worth asking is do the organisation really want to belong to Pride in Diversity or is it just lip service?  Is it possible to shield your faith from your work when that faith actually requires you to influence your work place?  What protection do the GLBTI community have from those that consider them to be second class citizens?

In part two I’ll take a look at the media-shit-storm that is raging from inaccurate reporting.

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Dec 22

I first donned a backpack and climbed the Major Mitchell Plateau in September 1985, I’ve climbed it a total of 4 maybe 5 times now, including the latest hike in 2016.

A lot has changed in our world since then, firstly the medium of recording the story.  I can’t find my log book for 1985 or I simply didn’t have one.  However, my second hike in 1986, dubbed the “Comet Hike” was written in my log book that was a foolscap Collins Minute book.  Written after the event.  Not long after that I started recording in a smaller log book that I carried with me and wrote every chance I had.  These days my rough notes become a word press blog and I share the story with lots of other people!  In the 80’s I would use my log books and diary to record daily life and then record letter tapes for my friends.

The invention of word processing on a typewriter and then computer also means that my spelling is checked.  I also have Michael who proof-reads for me!

Other changes.  Get a load of the car, it’s an HQ Belmont station wagon, not a Kingswood and the rear door has a roll down window and drop tray!  Click on the image, Marcelle and I both have mullets and we’re both wearing our scout uniform.  For whatever reason we thought these heavy cotton shirts were the go for hiking in.  In the other photo we’re dressed in special hiking gear, our shirts have special wicking abilities, we have decent boots and Goretex raincoats.  Marcelle’s backpack is the same one that Michael is carrying, however, check out my old one.  It has an external frame and you can see the aluminium hoop at the top.  That bloody thing use to snag on every low hanging branch I passed under.  You can still buy the sleeping mats, a single piece of pressed material, nowadays you wouldn’t use them as a yoga mat.  We travelled with lightweight self-inflating mattresses.  However, mine had a seam explosion so I would have been better off with nothing more than a sleeping mat.

We spent hours packing in the 80’s trying hard to get the packs as light as possible, these packs had about 16kg.  I carried 18kg this hike, so a little more but a lot less time to pack.


In the days before colour photo copiers we carried two A2 paper maps that were very detailed.  If we wanted to check where we were we needed to triangulate our position, so needed 3 landmarks within sight, and using a compass, rotate the map, draw 3 lines and basically have a guess.  The information on the maps was already 10 years old when we bought them.  In 2016 we downloaded an app onto our phones, paid $9 for 3 maps that has information that is regularly updated. The app even puts a little blue dot to show us where we were along with the full longitude and latitude.  There’s no need for wi-fi or mobile reception, just the trusty satellites overhead.  We could zoom-in for a closer look, or out for a wider look and drop a pin, here’s where we had lunch and where we camped.  We printed the maps out in colour to carry a paper copy and gave a copy to various people in case we got lost!

Cooking has changed too.  Here we are with a fire and a billy hanging over it on a structure we’ve fashioned out of sticks, compare that to our lightweight cooking pan sitting on a tripod above the flame.  No need to search for dry wood.  Still, once the matches got wet, even though they were waterproof, no fire was possible!  The menu in 1986 consisted of fresh hamburgers, dried peas and Deb potatoes, sandwiches and pikelets.  In 2016 we had fresh fruit, freeze-dried chicken and potatoes, along with packaged rice and salmon.  Luckily the taste of freeze-dried food is much better!


And then our sleeping accommodation.  In 1986 we wanted to go as lightweight as possible, so slept only under a tent fly.  In 2016 we carried a lightweight 2kg tent, including attached groundsheet and fly.  Lucky for us it didn’t rain back in the 80’s.  Ever.

In 1986 my log entry says:

As we descended we watched the mist blowing straight up from the bottom of the mountain.  About half way down the mountain we watched as the plateau revealed itself to us, the mist started to clear up before our eyes

This hike was the reverse, the weather was quite nice as we headed down Mt William, however, half-way up the other side we watched as the mist hid the mountains.

The significant event in 1986 was Halley’s comet, hence the black and white photos.  Marcelle lugged her big camera and tripod to the top of the mountain.  We took photos of the night sky.  I don’t have any of those images.  Michael and I took our phones and snapped many photos of the bush, the flowers and each other.  No need to have a film developed, instant delete, and much easier to manage.

The one thing that hasn’t changed in 30 years is my sheer delight and enjoyment with walking and hiking in the Grampians and sharing that with people who I love.


Read Part 1, Part 2 and look at the gallery of images


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