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A letter to LGBTIQ Australians

This postal survey isn’t right
I originally addressed this letter to the LGBTIQ community, but while I don’t want to downplay the strength of this community, I can also imagine some of you might actually be a bit sick of being lumped together as a single undifferentiated entity.
Just as heterosexuals are a diverse range of people with all manner of opinions and traits, so too are their LGBTIQ counterparts.
The constant delineation between LGBTIQ and straight perpetuates an unspoken narrative that our sexuality is a preeminent criterion for defining differences, camouflaging the reality that I have more in common with many LGBTIQ people than a lot of straight people.

So, on behalf of millions of fair-minded Australians, I write this to all LGBTIQ Australians, with my own friends particularly close in my thoughts.

I would like to say that I am sorry for what you are enduring right now.  Some may take issue with my apologising for things I don’t have control of, but I am comfortable with the term, because I am truly sorrowful and embarrassed at what some of my fellow countrymen are capable of, let alone our pathetic excuse for a government.

As I said, everyone is different and some of you are handling this farce remarkably well, but you shouldn’t have to; and I am dismayed by the already documented emotional impact it is having on many of you.

You didn’t ask for your existence to be subject to prolonged public criticism and were unequivocal in your opposition to the plebiscite proposal, but here we are.

Come next election, you need no better example of how unfit the Liberal Party is to hold office than this postal survey on your rights.

This is a government that saw the divisiveness of the Brexit referendum (which included one Remain campaigner being murdered in public) and thought, “Yeah we want some of that, but let’s make it even more drawn out.”

The so-called debate

Despite the protestations of conservatives, it is unarguable that you are the only real victims of what is generously being described as a debate about marriage law.

Sadly, use of the term ‘debate,’ is poor nomenclature, as that would require two opposing perspectives on Marriage Equality being tested, but only one side is even talking about marriage.

The other uses any piece of obfuscation and downright trickery to frighten people into voting against equality.

One thing I want to say to you is I’m not buying the lies and few people I speak to are either.  They just come off as desperate and none of their arguments withstand any real scrutiny or analysis.

I don’t want to get into name-calling, but anyone proudly saying, “I’m not a bigot, but I think homosexuality is wrong,” is going to have to pick one or the other.

Ironically though, this type of NO voter is the only one being honest about why they are against equality.

While I can’t agree with their homophobia, at least they are open about it, so in some ways, I give them a little more credit than the more urbane NO advocates who try to have it both ways.

And it is certainly preferable to the disingenuous and self-righteous wailing about a child’s need to have both a mother and a father. Aside from its blatant irrelevance and mistruth, this is just a poorly coded way of saying children need to be protected from gay parents.

To many of us, it is self-evident how distorted and malicious these words are.  It makes me angry when I hear them said about people I care about, so I can only imagine how awful it is to endure it in person.

I urge you to remember that the lies said about you are in no way reflective of you or your relationships.  They are just reflections of the ignorance and prejudice of those who say them.

If you want to stand up for yourself and respond to these veiled attacks, you go right ahead.  There has been a lot written about how the YES campaign has lost votes by being too ‘aggressive,’ but I’m not sure I buy this as a significant factor.

Even if it is, you have to do what is right for you and sometimes standing up for ourselves is important for our own wellbeing.  Moreover, people who whine about their rights to freedom of speech almost invariably have a very one-sided idea of that freedom.

It takes some pretty Orwellian sophistry to argue that those who are publicly belittling you and your relationships are entitled to free speech, but when others use that same freedom to justifiably ridicule their ridiculous claims, the NO campaign feels bullied.

I won’t say I speak for a majority of Australians.  I’ve heard half a dozen people make this claim, including Bernardi and Abbott (both of whom I despise).  I don’t want to sound anything like them, so I won’t even use the language.

I also shouldn’t need to speak for the majority, because morality should not be a popularity contest.  On the other hand, I truly believe millions of Australians are with you in this campaign and that most of the denigration is coming from an obstinate minority.

As the saying goes, it only takes a few empty vessels to make a lot of noise.  And as the hysterical voices of those against equality get louder and more desperate, that is no sign of their strength, but of their weakness.  I hope you all know this.

Actually, I don’t think it is okay to vote NO

Sadly, I have to accept that even some of my own friends will vote against equality and in doing so will wilfully endorse arguments that treat you as inferior.  What do I make of that?

In truth, I’m not sure how to act about this.  I won’t deny anyone the right to hold different opinions to my own and as I have said before, we are so much more than a single opinion.  But this is a different situation.

I don’t care about opinions, but I do care about actions, especially those which directly and negatively impact on many of my friends.  And that is what a vote against equality is.

Am I still okay that some of my friends are going to do that?  I’m honestly not sure.  I guess I’ll make up my mind at some point after the whole painful charade is over, but I don’t expect to forgive quickly.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this survey has been set up by opponents of equality to get a particular result.  But even if it succeeds, one way or another, Marriage Equality is coming and coming soon.

If the Liberal government continues to fumble over this issue, I expect the next Labor government to legislate on it as a matter of priority and, in doing so, formalise an ongoing point of difference that will be politically costly for the Coalition for years to come.

And when it does- without the fanciful consequences NO campaigners are trying to conflate with it- a lot of people are going to be a bit sheepish about having voted against it.  This knowledge that they were wrong isn’t going to go away quickly either.  And nor should it.

What I am hoping for is a resounding YES that clearly articulates that I live in an open, accepting country, and not one that is stuck in the bigotry of the past.

I don’t ask people to be ashamed of history, but now that we know better, we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes.

But even if we don’t get that, let me assure you that for me and many others, none of the mud thrown by the NO campaign will stick and all this whole charade has done is consolidated our support for you.

This article was originally posted on Quietblog


24 comments

  1. Bill Purvis

    The unfortunate misrepresentation of LGBTIQ is due to the missing S. Where are straight heteros on the rainbow is it inclusive. Respect for difference also includes S and H, straight and heteros.

  2. corvusboreus

    Bill Purvis,
    Heterosexuals (and ‘straights’) are already well (ie exclusively) covered by the current marital act (as amended by J Howard)..

    If you refer to neglect of recipient demographics in the title of the author’s open letter, you shouldn’t forget the ‘A’ for ‘asexual’, people who have no orientation or interest towards any form of sexual activity, regardless of gender (or intersex status).

    Just because such folk don’t give a phuq about phuqqing, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be ignored in the subject of having a say regarding the legal status and rights of the intimate/sexual relationships of other consenting adults.

  3. Rossleigh

    Mm, great point. I haven’t seen too many letters addressed to the heterosexual community, as though that’s the thing which defines us. Whatever, I hope that the result goes some way toward making some of the louder conservatives realise that every time they open their mouths, they immediately lose support for their cause!

  4. wam

    I am firmly in the ‘2 types of people will vote no: ignorant arseholes(including one relative who gave her form to her husband) or ignorant homophobes camp.
    But the evil for me is the media assigning the no to the lnp and the yes to labor when there are yes libs and no labs. Another case of convenience rules.

  5. Peter F

    Bill Purvis, “The unfortunate misrepresentation of LGBTIQ is due to the missing S. Where are straight heteros on the rainbow is it inclusive. Respect for difference also includes S and H, straight and heteros.”

    If your comment is simply because you would want everybody to be included, OK; If your comment is because you are hurt by being left out, then that is OK too.

    Either way, you are showing what the LBGTIQ people have had to experience for centuries.

  6. madeleinekingston

    So David Chadwick

    I am outsider to the LGBTQI community being a haply married heterosexual woman with all the privileges associated with that status so I do not pretend to be able to walk in your shoes.

    However my husband and I have unequivocally supported the YES position, returning our ABS survey forms without hesitation as soon as the forms arrived.

    The UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 16(1-3) which expressly declares marriage as a human right does not distinguish on the basis of sexual conditioning or orientation. Neither does the Declaration describe how a family unit should be composed, if indeed a married couple decides to have a family or is able to.

    I reject the position that procreation the primary purpose for marriage or that same-sex couples cause detriment to children in any context. The evidence is overwhelming that this is not the case, as is evidenced in the international literature.

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr

    The sensitive analysis of the South Australian Law Institute commissioned by the SA Attorney-General and tabled in September 2015 led to legislative reforms effective from 1 August 2017 in that jurisdiction. The audit and published export model recognised the particular concerns of the minority group collectively labelled the LGBTQI community and their concerns about the legislative, policy and procedural gaps and gaps elsewhere in the commercial arena that left this vulnerable segment of the community at risk of ongoing discrimination. There is much room for bridging the gaps despite the 2008 federal reform package and the discrepant provisions in jurisdictions to address the gaps in achieving equality and accessibility to justice for those who would be better labelled under categories such as “sexual orientation” “gender identity” and “intersex status” in addition to personal intimate relationships with those of “deafen sex”

    The analysis based on a commissioned report undertaken by the South Australian Law Institute (AALI) at Adelaide Law School took into account the direct perspectives of those impacted and resulted in sensitive consideration of their needs in legislation formalised and effective in South Australia from 1 August 2017

    https://law.adelaide.edu.au/research/law-reform-institute/documents/audit_report_lgbtiq_sept_2015.pdf

    There are disc pant provisions and interpretations in jurisdictions and interpretations of definitions and entitlements in various jurisdictions, notwithstanding the federal reform package of 2008. Everybody without a formal marriage certificate either by choice of because current provisions disallow marriage, is disadvantaged. I can provide extensive detail subject to moderator and reader tolerance.

    For now, perhaps you will gain some comfort from knowing that a large segment of the community a large, including our own household is right behind you and others in your position in the hope that true equality will be achieved. We do not accept the red herring and irrelevant arguments present no the “No” supporters.

    I hope this helps. Don’t hestitate to ask for more information about arrangements in various jurisdictions.

    Madeleine

  7. madeleinekingston

    Bill Purvis

    I hope this will also be published following my long response to the author of this article David Chadwick. I am a happily married heterosexual woman with the benefit or a marriage certificate that provides me and my husband with benefits that those who are not married under secular laws (regardless of any religious “blessing that they may receive). I have made well over 100 responses to various published articles on this topic and on the current ABS voluntary non-binding opinion survey that will be published on 15 November and may lead to further consideration by parliamentary representatives. I resented having to make judgements on which segments of the community “deserve” the full suite of human, civil, political the procedural entitlements, but my husband and I responded with a YES response to the ABS survey since any other approach would have given traction to the NO camp. With a majority YES response the matter will return to parliament for further consideration and voting on the single issue as to whether same sex partners should marry, though there are many under the LGBTQI label who should be but will not be covered under the current considerations.

    The fact of the matter is that all de facto couples (who may also be registered formally as fitting the lesser decryption of “civil partnerships” “registered partnerships” and/or “civil partnerships” – details readily provided with links if you wish) are subjected to numerous detriments compared with those with a marriage certificate, which at present, contrary to the arguments presented in the public arena

    All de facto couples face detriments. I provide some links and would be happy to provide futter clarification upon request or within the tolerance levels of readers and the moderator, given the importance of this issue and ongoing community interest.

    Despite legislative packages in 2005 and 2008 there are significant detriments for all de facto couples, regardless of gender mix. There are redress accessibility barriers; discrimination by superannuation companies, next of kin issues

    This topic has been recently covered in recent articles such as the one below first appearing in The Conversation; SSM The Facts; 7.30 Report and Four Corners Program re retirement village practices.

    http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-national-news/samesex-marriage-the-facts-20161003-4leoa.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbotts-wrong-de-facto-couples-dont-have-the-same-rights-as-married-ones-20170921-gym5s9.html

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2017-10-03/fact-check-same-sex-marriage-equality-lgbt-tony-abbott/8992846

    Bleed them till they die
    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2017/06/25/4689969.html

    http://www.theage.com.au/comment/this-is-why-i’ll-be-voting-yes-tosamesex-marrage-20170903

    The detriments to de facto couples. The claims being made by the naysayers to marriage equality principles are being challenged in the media. These include:

    discrepant State provisions in place over and above the Federal provisions (fine details available)
    the requirement to repeatedly “prove the authenticity of a de facto relationship
    waiting periods for Centrelink payments and government recognition;

    reduced Centrelink benefits where applicable compared with married couples

    difficulty accessing financial records by surviving partner

    access as next of kin including hospitals; (numerous directly impacted persons, anecdotal)
    right to participate in funeral arrangements for surviving partner; (numerous directly impacted persons, anecdotal; lack of redress options of family members object to this or to attendance at funeral;

    inheritance issues (apart from any risk to challenge to Wills); requirement to “prove” rights and validity of relationship);

    omission of name on of surviving partner death certificate even after decades of living together (listed as informant rather than partner

    discrepant decisions made by superannuation and insurance companies,

    discriminatory practices by retirement villages following death of a de facto partner, even if the property has been bequeathed to the surviving partner with demands to vacate property and rely only of proceeds of sale of same, resulting in partner been denied continued residence;
    Employment discrimination

    Other discrimination.

    The difference is that heterosexual straight couples can choose to marry. Others cannot till the law is changed. don’t hesitate to ask for further details. It would never be a problem to save the time and effort of others.

    Madeleine

  8. Kaye Lee

    Great article David and I agree with everything you have said but I admit to hesitation with the term LGBTIQ community. It’s like saying the brunette community. Why are we labelling people based on their sexuality? Why do people even have to decide, let alone announce, their sexuality. I long for the day when we stop dividing ourselves up into different groups. We are diverse individuals belonging to the same community. Love whoever you want – it isn’t my business.

    I get so angry when I hear Malcolm Turnbull saying the large turnout for this despicable survey is a ringing endorsement. NO IT ISN’T. I am appalled that I have been forced to vote on whether or not my fellow Australians should have the same human rights I enjoy. You put me in this invidious position against my will but, having been forced into it, I hope all those young people who were motivated to enrol send you into the oblivion you deserve next election.

  9. madeleinekingston

    Kaye Lee

    I could not agree with you more. This was no ringing endorsement. It was a position we were forced into in this appalling process since abstaining or otherwise boycotting would have given traction to the NO position. I think most of those directly impacted understand that. Our household ticked YES and instantly returned our forms on this basis, though not directly impacted, rather we believed in the fundamental principles of equality, fairness justice and accessibility to same. The more YES responses that the ABS receives the high the chance of the matter being resolved in Parliament within this term of government. Boycotting will not be productive in this regard
    People can request a replacement form if not received or destroyed by telephoning the ABS by 20 October and returning by 27 October

    https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/

    https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/have-your-say

    Information Line
    Phone: 1800 572 113
    Hours: 8am to 8pm (local time), seven days a week.

    No enclosures, no defacement no commentary

    There is a single question to answer by ticking or crossing the Yes or No box:

    “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

    The barcodes do not show personal details but exist to ensure no duplication when electronically read. Details will not be retained.

    Cheers, Madeleine

  10. Adrianne Haddow

    Thanks David for this well crafted article. I shared this with a couple of friends who married in New Zealand to show their intention of life long commitment to each other, in spite of the Australian government’s refusal to acknowledge this commitment, or afford it the same legitimacy available to heterosexual couples.

    They thanked me, and you, for the support. You articulated my feelings, and those of all fair minded Australians, so well.

    I am in total agreement with your post Kaye Lee.
    I feel we have been wedged by this miserable excuse of a government to participate in their mean minded “debate” about the rights of other people.

    It’s a pity we don’t get to “debate” about the fire sale of our national infrastructure, the give away of our natural resources to multinational pirates or the generous salaries and entitlements, the politicians award themselves. Not to mention the decision to participate in wars crafted by their mentally unstable allies.

  11. madeleinekingston

    Adrianne

    The good news for those in Victoria is that under new legilsation of 2016 that state will recognize relationships that have been formalied overseas and in other states under what is terms variously as “registerable relationships’ “civil registration” and civil unions”

    http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/justice+system/laws+and+regulation/civil+law/recognition+of+domestic+relationships+in+victoria

    From 1 July 2016, relationships formalised in the following jurisdictions (for example, a civil partnership or same sex marriage) will be recognised for the purposes of the Relationships Act as a ‘registered domestic relationship’:

    Australian Capital Territory
    New South Wales
    Queensland
    Tasmania
    New Zealand
    Canada, including Quebec and Nova Scotia
    Hawaii
    California
    New York
    South Africa
    the Netherlands
    the United Kingdom
    Scotland.

    Relationships formalised in other jurisdictions that are not on this list are still considered to be a ‘registered domestic relationship’ under the Relationships Act, if the other jurisdiction’s law provides that the relationship:

    must be between two adults who entered into the relationship consensually and are not related by family; and

    must not include a person who is already married or in a relationship formally recognised by that law.

    You do not need to register a relationship in Victoria if you have already formalised a relationship in another Australian state or territory or overseas.

    Recognition of these relationships will make it easier for couples to access their rights under Victorian law, as they will not need to provide any further evidence that their relationship exists.

    Each state has discrepant provisions and changes to the federal laws will not over-ride state and territory provisions

    I can povide more detail and links if requested for all states, but I hesitate to monopolise the discussion. Things are slowly changing. However as indicated in my previous posts, discrepancies still prevail for those not sporting a marriage certificate.

    Cheers, Madeleine

  12. Ricardo29

    Thanks for this article and thanks Kaye Lee for your comment, my sentiments exactly .As a 72 y.o. white married man, I don’t believe it is either my right, or my responsibility to vote on this and I deeply resent being placed in a position where I have to vote yes to ensure it gets up, and to help bury the no vote. My participation can in no way be interpreted by Turnbull as some sort of endorsement of this appalling process.

  13. diannaart

    In homage to Kaye Lee

    Dear Malcolm

    I resent having to vote FOR the equality of my brothers and sisters. Therefore, my duly posted response is not an endorsement it is a sense of justice delivered under sufferance.

    Further, dear Malcolm, I will not resent, but in fact relish voting you from office at the next election.

  14. helvityni

    “The Sydney Anglican diocese has made a $1m donation to the no campaign in Australia’s postal survey on same-sex marriage.”

    WOW, what about helping the poor and the homeless; where’s the Church’ s love and charity…

  15. Peter F

    I see that the Sydney Anglican arc hi bishop also criticised his Perth counterpart saying that this who supported the yes vote “moulded into the patterns of their surrounding culture”. This could not, under any circomstances be said of him, though, could it?

  16. Mark Needham

    Let us never, have a feeling, or let alone speak out, about something that is “Wrong”.
    Heaven forbid, that one of us should voice an opinion.
    A person, who has a differing opinion, is definitely a ‘homo………..’. ( Insert relevant, non discriminatory, offensive, derogatory, complimentary, flattering, noun, adverb verb even adjective)

    Bastards all. I am glad that our Australian Unions, ( Of the Industrial Type), never disagree, with this same venom and force, or have the temerity to even think about, possibly breaking a law of the Land., to a similar cause of concern.

    Happy to see the conversation, become so, virulent, in the case of an “Opinion”, to be subject to the “Laws of Fact”.
    Some people should not be allowed the “Choice of Opinion, or Thought”.
    Ignorant mongrels, Hey!

    Musing,
    Mark Needham.

  17. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think “opinions” about denying human rights are valid. What exactly is “wrong” with marriage? Remember, you are NOT being asked your opinion of homosexuality because it is illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexuality. You are being asked if all Australians should be equal before the law.

  18. johno

    Diannaart
    Ditto

  19. Mark Needham

    IF? IF I placed an advertisement for a companion to have sex, with me
    If, in that advertisement, I stipulated that any or all Homosexuals, need not apply.
    Is that discrimination, against them.? I do hope so, because, that is a particular sort of sex, that I do not wish to have.

    Shivering,
    in distaste,
    Mark Needham

    PS. The above is not an opinion, it is fact.

  20. madeleinekingston

    So Mark Needham

    I join in again as an unaffected heterosexual woman happily married woman. For the record my husband and I instantly ticked the Yes box on the ABS survey and immediately posted it back in the interests of supporting the general principles of equality, fairness and decency. Our personal sexual preferences did not come into the picture.

    Naturally no-one will be forcing you into sexual encounters that you are uncomfortable with, whether you not you choose to seek these online. Nor will they force you to marry anyone not of your own choosing or taste, or to attend any wedding or civil ceremony thay that you would prefer to avoid. So you are actually very safe if this brief comment helps to allay your fears.

    The exclusionary provisions are covered under discrimination laws, not marriage provisions or proposed changes. I seriously doubt that discriminatory laws will ever consider governing how people secure their sexual partners in this context or what criteria they may choose to apply. Nice try though. No need to worry. Another red herring, I believe.

    You have a good week, won’t you?

    Cheers, Madeleine.

  21. madeleinekingston

    @Darrel Nay 3.31 pm 14 October

    Oh Lord

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/robot-wedding_n_7696666

    So Robots are getting married now? Natural affinity or trained by the same programmer, or programmers of the same mindset?

    Well there you go. They are not worried also about discrimination laws? It is a furphy

    Anyway if Bots want to marry J have no objection. If the marriage laws are willing to cover them, so much the better. Nothing to do with the Church and they surely cannot object on precreation grounds as do some Bishops and Archbishops.

    Sorry I could not resist.

    Cheers, Madeleine

    PS I had to suffer a soundless Bot marriage ceremony since my sound card online has gone for a six, but I don’t blame the Bots for that, since it is a hardware failure, too expensive to fix. Lucky for me I can still think without online sound.

    Cheers, Madeleine

  22. madeleinekingston

    PS

    To my beloved husband

    The way you wear your hat … the way you hold your knife… the way we still dance till three. The way you changed my life…They can’t take away from me … from us.

    This is what I wish for everybody seeking lifetime loving commitment.

    This is why way said YES to marriage equality. Now let’s get positive here. Moving away from pure politics; let us not forget about pure romance. We never forgot as a heterosexual married couple. That’s what we want for everybody.

    PPS

    Thank you Billy Holiday for the inspiration “You can’t take that away from me.” Would have provided a link but the sound card is dead. Naturally I remember, dancing till three. We still do it. Romance is in the wind; for everyone. If Bots can marry … so can everyone …

    Bring it on then. Marriage is for everybody…. surely … who want to be committed for life and dance till three….

    Cheers, Madeleine

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