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.

15 Responses to “Thoughts on Marriage Equality and the vote”

  1. neville J says:

    Just wanted to say that I agree – feel like I don’t belong anywhere at the moment – its been a pretty awful few months. The vitrolic attacks on who I am and how i love I am struggling with, these attacks deleivered by people who have the power to actually change the law. My friends, colleagues and indeed most across my community jut don’t get the reason why it can’ change. They don’t understand why politicians can’t “evolve”.

    It took me a long time to discover who I was and to have the guts to step out and declare that too the world. Now I am being told by those in Canberra to climb back into the closet and that I am not welcome.

  2. Gregory says:

    Thanks Neville – hope you’ve got some good friends around you to support you!

  3. I’m there with you all the way.

  4. Guy Curtis says:

    I wonder if senator Joyce will be consistent and go on to legislate for fertility tests before opposite-sex marriages are approved.

  5. Fran Yule says:

    How much of this “debate” fuelled by fear? Fear of being associated with homosexuality by voting YES to equality? Ignorance is bliss for those who cultivate it, is it not? It’s hell, however, for those who need to be in the light and surrounded by truth.
    Hang in! Think! Women have been battling for equality for almost 200 years now and while we’ve made great steps towards it, there’s still half the world’s female population to catch up.

  6. Carol Wocker says:

    Gregory, thank you for writing this. I have felt very upset by all of this too, they are talking about my amazing boy, he should the same rights as is sister and his mum and dad. The decision against equality has devalued my marriage, how can our marriage be anything when the people we love can not have what we have been so lucky to have for 27 years. Nath’s know young men who will find this an added burden for them to carry, who will feel more devalued than they already do. People have said it could be 10 years till marriage equality is written into law and this is just not good enough. I will never give up until my right is your right too. XO

  7. Greg Adkins says:

    As quick review: some fundamental errors of fact. Most of the Labor party MPs voted in favour of marriage equality. 59% of Labor MHRs supported it to be precise.

    Had there been a louder, less subdued and more sustained campaign against Tony Abbotts bully-boy control over his Liberal MPs on the issue, marriage equality would have been achieved. Monumental fail for the Greens and other activists stuck in a rut wanting to continue attacking PM Gillard rather than where it would actually count in achieving marriage equality.

    PS Gillard is not so much against marriage equality – she very publically supported her pro-equality MPs in speaking out to affect change – rather she’s not prepared to go back 30 years to create two classes of relationships: married and defacto. When that fight was won it was the work of lesbian and gays, buttressing the feminist movement and other thinking Australians, who ensured that if you want to be in a defacto relationship rather than a married one, you had exactly the same rights. No second class citizens here.

    Sadly this blog tries to rewrite history and fact by subtly shifting the Australian gay relationship into the USA context where marriage equality IS all about the fundamental rights we have already won in Australia, backed by Gillard, her party and those coming before them.

  8. Greg Adkins says:

    Remember Corey Bernardi and the other homophobic tossers: their toxic vitriol washes over and past me and doesn’t stick on the way past. How? Well I know they are in an ever diminishing section of Australian society.

    There’s a huge number of gay men silently voting for Abbott and Bernardi at the ballot box. To them I say, if you’re a rusted on conservative voter then join the Lib/Nats and create a homophobe free space from within.

    And maybe queer activists outside the Abbott-led party will finally turn the heat up where it counts.

  9. Phil Browne says:

    You captured my sentiments very well Gregory. The sense of disbelief when politicians spew forth totally offensive crap and seem to have no regard for the impact their words and decisions have on peoples lives. You know it’s coming, but the lack of sensitivity and concern for fellow humans is hard to cop.
    I was pleased to see a few politicians speak out against the offensive comments by some of their colleagues. Why though did so few speak up?

    As hard as it was for us to watch it, I feel for the LGBT politicians forced to sit surrounded by the hate some of their colleagues feel towards them, and us.

    It’s also been harder for Queenslanders, after the recent months, to then face this as well.

    So many politicians have let their constituents down big time – no Opposition members crossing the floor and so many ALP voting against party platform.
    Very sad indeed.

  10. isabelle says:

    You know I have many gay friends that I love and respect and want for them happiness in life. In regards to marriage though, I believe it should be between a man and a woman. This is the definition of marriage, but I am supportive of civil union with all legal rights the same as marriage.
    Also, I do get annoyed that so many gay people denigrate the christian religion.

  11. Gregory says:

    Thanks Isabelle,

    I have many gay friends that I love and respect too. I also wish for their happiness. You say that’s what you wish for, but then go on to deny us the very thing that would make our relationships happy. Marriage. I don’t want a civil union that makes me my relationship less than marriage. I don’t want legal rights, I want to be treated fairly and equally. That is all.

    I denigrate religion because I think it’s an illusion that gives false hope. I don’t denigrate it because I’m gay. I get annoyed when religious people expect me to respect them and then tell me I can’t get married. I don’t believe in any god, in particular I don’t believe in your god. Your religion should have nothing to do with my life. From where I am, it seems to be a falsehood. If you want to air it in public then don’t expect me not to pass comment on it.

  12. Isabelle says:

    Hi Gregory,
    Your answer is very aggressive in tone. And that’s not the type of person I am. People are allowed to voice their opinion. The reason I don’t agree with an actual marriage between gay people is because the definition of marriage is a union between a man and woman so as to bring children into the world. A civil union is not second class… is a union bringing 2 people together with all the same legal rights as a heterosexual union. I don’t consider gay people as second class citizens…they are intelligent, well adjusted contributing people in society that can raise well adjusted children, if that’s what they wish.
    Secondly u are entitled to your opinion about religion.
    I personally think religion of course has it’s flaws. But there are also some amazing people within the Christian church. Likewise Muslim, Jewish and other religions.
    I am Christian and for several years didn’t practice. But u know what, what’s wrong with believing in hope and faith and helping disadvantaged people.
    Lastly, if u want to try and give a case to your cause, u need to change your attitude because it’s aggressive, and not doing any justice to your cause..

  13. Gregory says:


    There’s nothing aggressive about my response. I am simply expressing my opinion.

    There is no reason why the definition of marriage can’t include same sex couples. Civil unions are second rate, if they weren’t they’d be called marriage.

    There is nothing wrong with my attitude, I’m simply putting my case in my own way. The attitudes that need to change is that of religious people such as yourself who insist that the Christian way should apply to everyone.

    You don’t need a god to have hope and you certainly don’t need religion to help disadvantaged people. You are entitled to believe in whatever you want, elsewhere in my blog you’ll find me defending the right of people to believe. However that doesn’t mean I have to agree with you, nor do I have to respect your belief. I’m entitled to my view, and on my blog I will express those views. I also welcome discussion in an open and honest way.

  14. Isabelle says:

    Hiya Gregory,
    i wasn’t trying to convert u and if u don’t want religion in your life that’s fine.
    I was only talking about’s your choice what you believe..
    I never said the Christian way should apply to everyone. I personally am proud that I’ve got a faith in God, but that’s my opinion, and if u choose to be atheist, that’s your choice and that’s fine by me.
    But why do u think civil unions are second rate? Marriage is defined in the dictionary as a union between a man and a woman. Why does the gay community want the definition of marriage to be changed?

  15. Isabelle says:

    Hi Gregory,
    Look I have a role where I was attending a certain conference, where I had to vote for same sex marriage in Canberra. Our group didn’t vote against but abstained.
    But a lot more people are thinking about the issue, so maybe things will change over time…
    It was interesting to hear about different stories when I attended the conference..

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