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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Feb 24
Drawing: Picture by a child in immigration detention.

Drawing: Picture by a child in immigration detention.

While our Federal Government is busy saying that the problem with the Human Rights Commission report “The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014” is its author, Gillian Triggs and they’re trying to find a way to get rid of her, they ignore the substance of her report.

Regardless of the motivation, we have reports from the Immigration Department of 44 allegations of sexual assaults in detention centres.   They can’t say how many of the 44 cases involve children.  However, the HRC report does – it says

233 assaults involving children and 33 incidents of reported sexual assault, with the majority involving children.

The HRC report, “The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014” in its forward says this:

It provides compelling first-hand evidence of the impact that prolonged immigration detention is having on their mental and physical health. The evidence given by the children and their families is fully supported by psychiatrists, paediatricians and academic research. The evidence shows that immigration detention is a dangerous place for children. Data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection describes numerous incidents of assault, sexual assault and self-harm in detention environments.

Just dwell on that, assault, sexual assault and self-harm.

How is this OK?  I’m sending a letter to my local member asking for an explanation and what actions the Government is taking to address these very serious matters.

What will you do?




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May 06

I love to watch Q&A – sometimes I even tweet, and I’ve even written blogs about it.

On last night’s episode (2014-05-05) a group of protesters shut the show down for a couple of minutes. jones

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne was on and taking questions from young people about funding of education.  The questioner kept interrupting the Minister’s answers, at which point Pyne would stop talking and look mournfully at Tony Jones, the host, for him to take some sort of action.

From the TV it’s hard to tell if Pyne was getting jacked off at the complete lack of respect that was being shown to him or if he was simply looking for a way to deliver his answer without the interruption.

The guy asking the question was being very impolite.  Proper manners would dictate that you ask your question and then shut up while the answer is delivered to you.  The format of Q&A doesn’t allow for a backwards and forwards debate style.  You ask a question and someone then gives an answer, then others on the panel throw in their ideas.

The trouble with asking a politician a question is that you rarely get an answer.  At least not an answer to the question asked.  That’s so frustrating, even as a viewer.  The pollie tends to avoid the direct question and that’s normally done by picking on the Opposition.  They all behave this way.

The next part of the show saw a bunch of students (I assume) drop a banner over the balcony and start a chant.  This essentially drowns out Tony Jones and his guests.

The video is embedded at this page.

I was horrified by such a bold display of rudeness.  The protesters were interrupting my TV viewing and making me cross.

The ABC then broke the live feed and played a bit of music.  I can only guess what was said while the program was off air.  A few minutes later it was back and normality was restored.

Was this the right way to handle the protests?  I’m not so sure.  Mind you, I’m not sure it’s the right way to launch a protest either.  However, simply silencing them without investigating the issue seems rather odd for a program that is trying to explore the issues and keep politicians accountable.

Maybe a better way would have been for Tony Jones to engage with them for a moment or two.  To get a question about the nature of the protest and direct that to the Minister instead of shutting it down and telling us how democracy works.

What do you do when you think the world is against you and you can’t get your message across?  How do you raise awareness and make your point if the conventional ways don’t work for you?

Are we moving to an area where you can’t protest, where you can’t stage an event to make your point.

Sure, what the students did was rude, disruptive and damn annoying.  I feel I should make some disparaging remark about their upbringing.  However, maybe they have a point.  Fund education, not planes.  Seems sensible to me and not enough is being said about the stupid situation we have in Australia where we seem to value the purchase of killing machines over education.  Where we seem to value the diesel rebate for huge mining companies over education.  The current government seems to think it’s better to make young people move to where the work is instead of keeping them close to their support networks.

Perhaps sometimes we should all do a little screaming to get our point across.  I don’t think it’s necessary for Tony Jones to apologise to Pyne.  Pyne should have listened to the frustration, he should have shown leadership by engaging, seeking to understand and then perhaps the world might just be a better place.

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