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Tag Archives: Same-sex marriage

Instead of excluding homosexuals, the church should exclude homophobes

Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and Synod president, has told homosexual people that they should abandon the church.

“My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture. Please leave us.

“We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”

Change our doctrine? Here’s some “plain teaching of Scripture” for you Glenn.

James 4:11-12

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Romans 14:1-13

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Titus 3:2-7

“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, …”

Colossians 3:12-15

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Matthew 25:41-46

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

In speaking about homosexuals, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Davies and his ilk, by passing judgement and seeking to exclude people, are the ones who are going against the doctrine of the church. Perhaps the homophobes might like to form their own church because they sure as hell do not represent the teachings of Christ.

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Same Sex Marriage Against Sharia Law!

Well, I don’t know that it is, but I thought that the heading was a great way to confuse Pauline Hanson’s One Nation voters. Although confusing them is hardly difficult…

What gives me the right to talk about Sharia Law when I know absolutely nothing about it. I don’t know, but there seems to be a prevailing argument in Australia at the moment that one can say whatever nonsense one likes and if someone points out that you’re wrong, you can complain that your freedom of speech rights are being violated.

I couldn’t help but smile during the week when I read about that couple having their wedding in the Presbyterian Church in Ballarat cancelled. But let’s back up a bit, and remember some of the arguments we’ve been hearing from the “No” case.

A large number of the arguments are about things that are currently happening – boys wearing dresses, schools promoting “safe” environments for people regardless of the sexual orientation – and the rest rely on hypotheticals. You know the sort of thing: If we allow two people the same sex to marry, how can we stop a cat and a dog from deciding that they want to get married?

And, we’ve been hearing that religious freedom was at stake. John Howard, for example, was telling us that we need to enshrine religious freedom before the vote. His concern was that Parliament was only taking about “the putative# marriage ceremony”, and that we needed to more “specificity” on how religious freedoms will be protected before we vote.

Mm, I don’t remember him expressing concerns about religious freedoms after Pauline’s attempts to argue for a burqa ban. Yes, I know the burqa’s cultural rather than religious, but aren’t most religious customs?

Anyway, there’s been all this concern expressed about churches being forced to marry gay people. And that will be contrary to their religion because, for example, Catholic priests aren’t allowed to marry anyone. Not only that, but all the florists and bakers who have religious objections will be forced to make bouquets and wedding cakes and this may offend their religious beliefs. Although, when I think about it, I’m yet to go into a bakery and have the baker ask me about my sexual orientation in case they have to refuse me service. Anyway, once the marriage equality is passed, I can’t really understand why Esmeralda and Petunia, or Tony and George, or whoever’s getting married would actually want to give their business to a homophobic religious nutter.

Oh, is that bullying? Calling somebody homophobic when all they’ve done is refused to make a cake because it’ll have two people of the same sex on the top? I mean, we’ve got to keep the debate respectful and not call people names just because they have a different point of view. Imagine if politicians did that! You know, if they called people with compassion “bleeding hearts” or people who think that maybe some millionaires could afford just a little more tax were called “socialists’…

So we must have no bullying in this respectful debate. Which brings me back to the Ballarat Church. Steven North, the minister, saw a Facebook post by the bride expressing support for a “Yes” vote in the ABS survey. Outrageous. But rather than bully them by calling them names, he simply called them to his church and told them that not only would he not perform the ceremony, but they couldn’t marry in his church. Ok, some of you pedant’s may want to point out that it’s surely God’s church and then some people will use this as an opportunity to push their militant atheist views down our throats with all the passion of a Jehovah’s Witness who hears the words, “This sounds interesting, tell me more!” So let’s just not go there, ok?

Anyway, the gay community – which, of course, is a group of like-minded people who all think the same way – should thank Steven North, because he has single-handedly shown up the absurdity of the argument that churches would be forced to perform ceremonies for LGBTI people. Churches can’t even be forced to marry Christian, heterosexual couples. They can already paraphrase John Howard and say: “We will decided who marries in this church and the circumstances in which they marry!” So how on earth would marriage equality lead to churches losing their border protection rights? There’d have to be new legislation enacted which forced to churches to make their buildings and clergy available to whomsoever wished to marry in a church. And, like the raising of children by gay couples, this wouldn’t be affected by simply changing the marriage act.

Yes, I think that the gay community – at their regular community meeting or whenever they all get together to set their agenda to wreck civilisation as we know it – should take up a collection to send a bunch of flowers to Reverend North. First checking that there’s a florist who doesn’t object sending flowers to religious people.

  • Yes I had to look it up. I’m still not sure what he means by it: Commonly believed or deemed to be the case; accepted by supposition rather than as a result of proof.

WE DON’T SERVE THE GAYS HERE! Innovative Marketing solutions

Are you a business worried about your right to refuse service to the gays? Well listen up and save Shelton’s bank roll for your legal costs and stop Brandis worrying about writing legislation to allow you to legally refuse service to the gays. I know he isn’t the Prime Minister Tony is, but Malcolm is always challenging us to be innovative, so here are my top three, yes top three – exclusive and free innovative ideas for you, to help you refuse service to the gays. There is no need to be worried! There will be no need to refuse service! It is in your control! Marketing is so innovative!

Uniform Revamp

The right uniform can have a very positive impact on your business. Professionalism and authority (authority is like nationalism but sexier!) are the two most highly rated indicators directly influencing consumer purchases. In a study by Suffolk University in 2011, it was found that Uniforms influence consumers on product knowledge and expertise more than the other six strategies; such as radio, television, internet etc.,

So the answer for your business is to revamp your uniform and just openly advertise your bigotry. That way the LGBTIQ community, their families and allies can walk into your shop and see clearly your deep seated hatred by your uniform. Be warned, they may give you the middle finger! But all is good. They will take their service elsewhere. It saves the embarrassment of defending your right to bigotry in court and the freedom to express your homophobia and bigotry openly. Here are some great choices below:

uniform-change

Call to Action Marketing

Call to Action marketing is an online concept to directly attract the ‘right’ people to your business by them clicking on your online advertising. This takes the right customers direct to your website for sales and sign ups! Great targeted marketing tool yes? And you could go viral!

Here are some solutions to keep all LGBTIQ people, their family and allies away. This way, not only will you attract other bigots just like you, but you will most certainly win the internet by keeping basically 70% of Australia away from your business!

call-to-action

Re-branding! (Not Re-Brandis – Re-Branding)

Re-branding is a great way to really revitalise what your company is all about! It allows you to express a newly invigorated heart and soul as the demographic for your product changes, or you want to really hit some of that solid target market. Re-branding can stir deep feelings within other human beings and connect them to your business.

If you want your customers to share your deep homophobic and and anti-gay feelings – what better way to sell this than to stimulate these feelings through a new brand! Hopefully these fantastic re-branding ideas will help you!

logos

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed these free tips I have shared. There is no need to be worried about refusing same sex couples service ever again, with these new marketing tricks. I hope I have helped you and your business today to find new and inventive ways to express your hatefulness, homophobia and bigotry with the FREEDOM you desire!

Originally Published on Polyfeministix

The Marriage Plebiscite, Brexit and What The Question Will Be…

Q: What’s the difference between a referendum and a plebiscite?

A: A referedum usually refers to amendments to the Constitution. In the case of Same Sex Marriage, there’s no need for a referendum as the High Court has already ruled that the Federal Government has the power to make laws on marriage. A plebiscite, on the other hand, allows the politicians to ignore the outcome and just vote the way they would have if we hadn’t spent $160 million getting everyone to vote.

Ok, I don’t know how many of you got a shock when Britain voted to leave the EU. Apparently many of the people who voted to leave were quite surprised and expressed quite a lot of anger that their vote would be taken seriously when all they were doing was declaring their love of Enid Blyton and the right to be a soccer hooligan without a lot of Europeans complaining that they were worse than the Russians. Not only that, but many of the politicians who backed it were quick to point out that their promises about the benefits to Britain were only theoretical and now that things were actually happening we had to look carefully at the nuances of what they’d said. For example, when we said no more immigration, we didn’t mean no more foreign workers, we just meant we didn’t want them to have any legal rights, so no don’t expect that you’ll get a job soon.

So, because of the surprise result in Britain, many people have expressed concern over the upcoming same sex marriage plebiscite which Turnbull has suggested could be held as early as the end of the year. Or next year. Or whenever they work out the question.

Now, some of you are probably cynically suggesting that our plebiscite is a bit like the vote in Britain. We’re holding it, but the people who called don’t really think it will happen, and, in our case, it’s just a delaying tactic to avoid the question till after the election when Tony Abbott will again be PM and Sir Malcolm will move to New York. (Ok, take it as satire, but go ahead and read some of my pieces from 2013 and 2014 and you’ll see that I have a better predictive record than most political commentators!)

And I’ve heard some of the media, left wingers that they are, wonder why don’t even have the question yet.

Anyway, I have it on good authority that this is because the Liberals are working hard on getting the question for the plebiscite just right. Or should that be Just Right, as in making sure that those Just and Right will prevail!

For example, these a few of the possibilities they’re considering:

1. Would you like to see the marriage act amended so that marriage is no longer a sacred thing?
2. Would you like to began our slippery slope to destruction?
3. Are you concerned that an amendment to the marriage act would send the wrong signal to people smugglers?
4. As Britain is finding after their “Yes” vote, are you concerned that Australis could damage our AAA credit rating with a hasty decision?
5. Do you consider that marriage is a sacred union of a man and a woman ordained by God or are you a heathen who will burn in Hell?
6. Aren’t you worried that if a child is brought up without a father and a mother, they could turn out like Malcolm? (vetoed by Turnbull)
7. Should parliament concern itself with more important things and not waste time debating marriage equality?
And finally, the one that’s winning at the moment:
8. Do you just want to vote and let us decide the question later?

As for the final one, there’s a bit of discussion about whether it is an actual question or a rhetorical and, if it’s the former, does that mean that the question on same sex marriage will already be decided by a “YES” vote and there’s no need for a parliamentary debate. Then there’s the question of whether a “YES” vote will mean that the Liberals can just insert any question they like at a later date in much the same way that they claim a mandate for all their policies whether mentioned in before the election or not once they win. So you can see that it’s not as simple as asking do you think that gay people should be allowed to marry the person that they love!

Of course, all this is contigent on the Abbott/Turnbull/Abbott government being returned next week. If Shorten gets in, we’d have the terrible circumstance that an issue like this would be decided by the unions, because that’s where the Labor policy of a conscience vote, followed by support of SSM in future years, has been decided.

If that happens, there’ll be no support for a conscience vote from the Liberals. And that’s the thing about a conscience vote. You can only have a conscience when your party says so!

The tearing down of our social fabric

Yesterday Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells addressed the National Press Club on conservatism in contemporary Australian society.

According to the Senator, she, and her views, represent the silent majority of Australians who she seems to believe are made up of elderly God-fearing people, many of whom can’t speak English.

“My views are those of the silent majority … I reflect contemporary Australia today.”

Ms Fierravanti-Wells informed us that the most important things to Australians are family, religion, family values and tradition.

She quoted census figures to show how many people came from non-English speaking backgrounds saying their conservative views must be considered in policy making.

But what the Senator chose to ignore is that 22% of all Australians stated they had no religion at the 2011 census – an increase of 6.8% over the previous decade. In 2011, almost a third of people aged 20 years and over with a postgraduate degree reported no religion (31%). Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the highest rates of people reporting no religion (both 29%), just ahead of South Australia (28%). New South Wales, the Senator’s home state, had by far the lowest rate (18%).

Predictably, Fierravanti-Wells is fervently against same-sex marriage and insists that she is representing the mainstream view in her strident opposition. She dismisses the polls showing overwhelming majority support for marriage equality because all those elderly non-English speaking constituents of hers don’t take part in the polls.

Speaking in Parliament in 2012 she said “This is not about equality; it is about the tearing down of our social fabric.”

“I reject the assertion that those who argue for the retention of the definition of marriage are somehow homophobic, bigoted or are opposing equal rights. It is about maintaining a tradition—a tradition that has been the bedrock of our communities, our society and the world as we know it.

The silent majority in this country does not support this change. Indeed, there are many people who are in gay relationships who themselves do not support gay marriage. Their views have also been drowned out by the vocal gay marriage minority.

Marriage is not only a civil union but has also always been traditionally a religious ceremony; whether in the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu or any other faith. It is a religious act that glorifies the significant union between a man and a woman. An important part of the marriage journey is the public vows that a man and a woman make to each other before their God which commits them to each other for the rest of their natural lives.

I doubt that most people who are pushing these amendments are overly religious or even intend on staying in a monogamous relationship, which begs the question: why do they want to get ‘married’? The chattering classes do not want to concede that, by amending the Marriage Act, they are in fact denying the rights of the silent majority who want to uphold the sanctity and true meaning of marriage and who want to keep some tradition going in a world that seems to be forever throwing out the old and bringing in the new.”

Connie, Connie, Connie – where to begin?

One in three marriages end in divorce with an average length of 10.7 years, not even long enough to raise the kids, so I don’t think we can attribute the stability of our society to marriage.

You quoted a Chinese proverb to defend your insistence that marriage must be between a man and a woman:

‘When there is love in a marriage, there is harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there is contentment in the community; when there is contentment in the community, there is prosperity in the nation; when there is prosperity in the nation, there is peace in the world.’

You purport to defend diversity and promote inclusion yet you want to deny this love, harmony, contentment, prosperity and peace to the LGBTI community.

Public support to legalise same-sex marriage is continuing to rise, with latest polling showing that 68 per cent of voters support gay marriage with 25 per cent opposed.

The poll found that 57 per cent of Coalition voters support gay marriage compared with 74 per cent of Labor voters and 90 per cent of Greens voters.

Connie says her own research in marginal seats indicates that ethnic and religious communities will turn on the government if a conscience vote is allowed.

The poll finds 71 per cent of voters born in Australia support gay marriage while support is 60 per cent among those born overseas.

Women (74 per cent) are more supportive than men (63 per cent) while support also fades with age.

Could I suggest that, far from representing the majority, the Senator is trying to impose her minority view on the electorate. Perhaps if she expanded her circle beyond elderly male migrants she meets at church in marginal seats she may understand that the “chattering classes” include most of her constituents.

Also, it is factually incorrect to say that marriage has “always been traditionally a religious ceremony.”

With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties. The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required.

As part of the Protestant Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state, reflecting Martin Luther’s view that marriage was a “worldly thing”.

In England, under the Anglican Church, marriage by consent and cohabitation was valid until the passage of Lord Hardwicke’s Act in 1753. This act instituted certain requirements for marriage, including the performance of a religious ceremony observed by witnesses.

In England and Wales, since 1837, civil marriages have been recognized as a legal alternative to church marriages under the Marriage Act 1836. In Germany, civil marriages were recognized in 1875.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells is offended when people label her homophobic. Why ever should they think that when she stereotypes supporters of marriage equality as godless sluts?

During her press club address, our Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs also suggested that Muslims have to “own the problem” of terrorism and the radicalisation of our kids and they have to “own the solution”. Your fault, you fix it? Nothing to do with us? Kids unable to get jobs and feeling victimised in their own society are not our concern?

Ms Fierravanti-Wells did a fair bit of trumpet blowing, reminding us that she has been “double-hatted” and “roundly applauded” for her frankness. She said she represents the “base” of the Liberal Party and feels it unfair when described as being from the hard right. She offers herself as proof of how successful a “wog” can be and speaks of the hurt she has endured when people can’t pronounce her name or make mafia jokes about her property in Umbria.

I wonder if she has ever considered the hurt felt by people who are told they are unnatural because of who they love or those who are ‘blamed’ for terrorism as their children are seduced, their homeland destroyed, and their families killed.

You seem very confident that your views are ‘mainstream’ and that you wield significant influence over policy but a word of warning Senator, it seems your party may have other ideas.

 

The terrier has fangs

Malcolm Turnbull would love voters to think he’s a fluffy white dog who wouldn’t hurt a fly. How can a man who adorably blogs on behalf of his dogs be anything but a harmless, gentle, kind Prime Minister? How can a man who wears a leather jacket on Qanda not be a man of the people? How can a man who wants to stay living in his multimillion dollar mansion on Sydney Harbour to be close to his grandson be anything but compassionate, socially progressive and committed to quality education and healthcare for the whole community? I’m sorry to disappoint the hopeful progressives who really want to believe Turnbull is the messiah. But isn’t it best I tell you now before you give him a chance to do a whole new term of harm? Turnbull definitely is NOT the messiah. Turnbull is a very naughty boy.

It is not entirely Turnbull’s fault that voters don’t realise how extreme his free-market ideology is. I think the problem is that voters assume that it’s OK for Turnbull to be right-wing when it comes to the economy, whilst also being sort of warm and fuzzy in a social sense. But this charade is just that: a charade. In the recent past Turnbull has been busily differentiating himself from Abbott. But when it comes to the free-market-loving part of the values Abbott and Turnbull share, Turnbull would go much harder and faster on the free-market bit, where Abbott spent more of his energy on social conservatism. Remember WorkChoices? Turnbull’s free market values means he believes this attempted assault on workers’ rights didn’t go far enough. You think Howard was scary? You ain’t see nothing yet!

If you were watching the Grand Final on Saturday, you might have missed the idea floated by this cute little terrier of a PM’s Treasurer, Scomo, that the States really should start thinking about letting private companies run hospitals and schools. Shock horror! ‘But wait!’ I hear all the supposably progressive Turnbull lovers say, ‘that’s just Scomo being Scomo and still swinging the Abbott-wrecking-ball. That’s not our cute cuddly Turnbull’. Get real people. Turnbull chose Morrison to be his government’s Treasurer. He made the decision not just because he needed Morrison’s voting block to win the Libspill. Stop the wishful thinking. Turnbull chose Morrison as his Treasurer because they SHARE THE SAME IDEOLOGY. The desired end point for people with these values, values Turnbull has been very up front about, is that the free market solves all social problem, that there should be no government intervention in the economy, including any welfare of any kind, and therefore everything becoming user-pays. In this world, the more money you have, the more healthcare and education you get. See how well this works out for the mega-rich Turnbulls of the world? Funny that. You might be thinking, it’s OK, Turnbull’s never going to get that far. But just imagine the damage he could do if he only gets some of what he wants. Imagine the wreckage strewn in that path!

Don’t be fooled by the idea that Turnbull is centre-right, or, as I’ve even heard some very mistaken lefties say, that he’s ‘left’ on social issues. The truth is, he has to be pro-marriage equality because this position isn’t just electorally desirable in Wentworth, it is electorally 100% necessary. Turnbull might say the right thing about climate change action too, but surely you noticed he never crossed the floor in Abbott’s government and helped to destroy climate action. Instead, he supported expensive and useless Direct Action, which he now plans to keep even though he’s in a position to end it. In fact, Turnbull will say and do whatever he needs to say to make himself look however he needs to look to win votes. Sorry to disappoint, but the tooth fairy isn’t real, Santa is your parents and it’s not possible to be both right-wing-pro-free-market and socially left-wing. Being socially ‘left’ means that schools and hospitals are run for the good of the people, not the good of the market. Turnbull’s free market position means he’d happily let the market rip public hospitals and schools out of the hands of the public and into the hands of the highest bidder for the greatest profit.

TerrierWithFangs When progressives realise what it really means for the country to have a free marketeer in charge, and they realise it’s actually impossible to be economically-right and socially-left at the same time, and when they don’t agree with Turnbull that healthcare and education should be run at a profit, they might realise their progressive vote definitely does not belong to Turnbull. ‘Privately run’ hospitals and schools is a very steep, buttered slope towards the end of free-for-all-and-all-alike hospitals and schools, which quickly leads to hospitals and schools only available to those who have the means to pay. I assume this is not an outcome progressives strive for?

So please, I’m begging you, don’t be fooled by the smarmy exterior and the cheesy grin. Turnbull is giving Australia a hug while stealing our public owned services and workers’ rights from our back pocket. Turnbull is a Prime Minister who looks like a cuddly terrier, but when you get to know him, you see he has fangs. Please be careful with your vote Australia. Turnbull has neo-liberal-sharp-as-diamond fangs. We’ve been bitten badly enough by Abbott. Please don’t now give the Turnbull terrier a chance to bite us even harder

 

The question should be “Will you marry me?” not “Can you marry me?”

On the 16 September 2015 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee reported on an inquiry into “The matter of a popular vote, in the form of a plebiscite or referendum, on the matter of marriage in Australia”. The committee took submissions from the public and received 77 submissions that complied with the terms of reference. The Committee issued one recommendation:

“…that a bill to amend the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 to allow for the marriage between two people regardless of their sex is introduced into the Parliament as a matter of urgency, with all parliamentarians being allowed a conscience vote.”

This recommendation was released two days after the deposal of former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Given Abbott’s demonstrated contempt for Senate committee recommendations in the past, it was sure to be ignored had he remained leader. However there was hope that the new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, being previously a vocal supporter of a conscience vote for marriage equality, would act on the recommendation and put the matter to an end.

It seems like Turnbull is determined to go down the same path as Abbott. The Coalition is still committed to a plebiscite, wasting millions of dollars in the process, and running the real risk of igniting anti-gay sentiment in the community.

It is disappointing but not surprising the lengths the Coalition Government is going to, to ensure that same-sex couples and families continue to be discriminated against. It seems absurd that a Senate inquiry was required to begin with, to decide on something as basic as ensuring equal rights for all Australians.

It is also disappointing that despite the findings of an unnecessary Senate References Committee, a plebiscite is still being pursued for marriage equality. It seems absurd that an expensive opinion poll, involving the entire voting population of Australia is required to determine whether a consenting, adult couple may have the same rights as every other couple in their own personal business – that of whether or not they may marry, simply because of the gender of their partner.

It also seems absurd that Constitutional changes are still being considered. The High Court has already determined that ‘marriage’ may include same sex marriage. The only possible desired result is to institutionally embed discrimination into the governing document of our nation.

People do not choose to be gay, no more than they choose to be left handed. Some of the loud opponents of equality state that the nation should not change the definition of marriage based on a minority. This is a particularly cruel way to view the debate and demonstrates a clear intention to maintain discrimination and inequality based on a narrow, unfair definition of what is ‘normal’.

Left handed people are a minority. At one point in time, left handed people were forced in school to write with their right hand.

Imagine for the moment if the parliament passed laws to ban left handed people from driving cars, working in certain industries or from adopting children? Imagine if the laws extended to red heads?

It would be ridiculously absurd. There would be righteous outrage. It is equally absurd that adult Australian couples cannot marry simply because they are attracted to the same sex.

Society – or at least most of society – has moved on from the wife being the possession of the husband. The basis of marriage is no longer about property rights or biological reproduction – if it ever was. Society has also moved on from writing with ink and feather quill, thus removing the only possible legitimate reason for discouraging the left handed among the population. Yet while left handed people are now largely free from prejudice (left handed scissors are a rarity), free from attempts to change their biology and free from personal slurs, gay people suffer some of the highest rates of discrimination, have been subjected to bizarre ‘conversion therapy’ in an attempt to ‘un-gay’ them, and are over-represented in suicide.

Legalising same sex marriage will not have the slightest impact on the value of heterosexual relationships, in the same way as a child will not be the slightest bit affected by sitting next to a left handed student in school. The arguments against same sex marriage are ideologically driven – there is simply no valid reason why same sex couples should not have the right to marry.

There should be no need for public endorsement of ‘marriage equality’ for it to be legalised; just as no public opinion poll was considered necessary for schools to stop caning students who wrote with their left hand – and no plebiscite considered necessary for former Prime Minister, John Howard to change the definition of ‘marriage’ in 2004 to expressly exclude same-sex couples. The government should stop pandering to the bigots and to ideologically driven prejudice.

Gay people are considered equal in every other area of society. The government considers gay people equal enough to pay taxes. Gay people have to pay exactly the same for parking and public transport as every other person. Gay people have to pay the same for water, electricity and other household amenities. Council’s consider gay people equal enough to pay rates on property at the same value as straight people.

Are gay people only equal when the governing bodies can make money from them?

Gay people are obliged to obey every Australian law yet are not afforded equality at law. There are no gay exemptions from paying income tax, no gay exemptions for obeying traffic regulations, no gay exemptions from exercising a duty of care to other people, and no gay exemptions from compulsory voting.

On the 23 September 2015 the Western Australian Government joined a long list of critics of the Federal Government, and questioned the need for a plebiscite, recommending instead that a conscience vote in parliament be supported. This is the simplest, easiest and most cost effective path to marriage equality and acceptance for all couples and families, no matter their sexual orientation.

It is unacceptable in 2015 that all adult Australians, no matter their sexual orientation, are not afforded the same rights at law, yet they are expected to meet all legal obligations. The question for every adult Australian in a loving committed relationship should be “Will you marry me?” not “Can you marry me?”

 

A ‘People’s vote’ on marriage equality: Abbott’s latest Truthiness phrase?

Following last week’s cabinet discussion on marriage equality, Tony Abbott announced that:

“going into the next election, you’ll have the Labor Party which wants [marriage equality] to go to a Parliamentary vote and you’ve got the Coalition that wants it to go to a people’s vote”
(12 August 2015)

According to our Prime Minister, he is champion of the people’s will when it comes to marriage equality – offering a ‘people’s vote’ over a ‘politician’s vote’ dictated by what he calls ‘stalinist rules.’ Certainly sounds like a no-brainer. Who would pick Stalin over the good people of Aus? We do live in a democracy after all – not Stalinist Russia – we should get a say.

But is Abbott’s claim to be the people’s champion true – or is ‘people’s vote’ just the latest entry in the Truthiness dictionary. (In case you missed my earlier article on Abbott-speak, ‘Truthiness’ is something which feels true, but isn’t necessarily backed up by facts. Or truth.)

Is Abbott really trying to facilitate the possibility of an outcome that might go against his stated position against marriage equality? Or is he taking a leaf out of his favourite ex-Prime Minister, one Mr John Howard’s playbook. Let’s roll back the clocks and have a look.

Roll back the clocks to late January 1996 . . .

Toy_Story Aussies have just passed a summer rapping to Gangsta’s Paradise and singing along with Seal. Toy Story is one of the most popular movies. And more importantly – for our story at least – an election has just been called for March and one of the key election issues is whether or not Australia should become a republic.

The push for this change had been mounting for a while. As early as 1977, polling showed that 58% of Aussies accepted that we don’t need a Queen. By the early 90s, the republican movement had critical momentum. In 1993, Prime Minister Paul Keating created a ‘Republic Advisory Committee’ to look into what changes would be needed to the constitution for Australia to become a republic. The chosen chairperson for this committee was then banker and lawyer, one Mr Malcolm Turnbull – but that’s another story….

This brings us to January 1996, and by this point it was fairly clear that the cry to consider that Australia become a republic – much like the current cry for marriage equality – was not going away. With an election pending, the leader of the Liberal party at that time – staunch monarchist John Howard – was left with no choice but to put considering that Australia become a republic on the table for discussion. Not wanting to adopt becoming a republic as Liberal party policy, Howard instead promised that if elected, he would make Australia becoming a republic a people’s issue – it would go to a people’s convention, and then to a people’s vote via a referendum. (Sounding familiar?)

Roll forward to 1999 – and Australia becoming a republic is looking good

Following his election in March 1996, John Howard kept his pre-election promise, and set up a ‘people’s convention’ to consider whether Australia should look at becoming a republic, and if so, what that would look like. He said he didn’t want to rush this because after all, ‘things won’t really change too much’ and there are ‘more important things to focus on than a republic’.

So it’s not until early 1998 that the people’s convention meets and comes up with a number of different models for an Australian republic – which mainly focused around who would replace the current Governor General (the Queen’s representative in Australia).

Support for Australia to become a republic had not waned during the 90s. The following graph shows opinion poll results on the question of Australia becoming a republic from 1993 to shortly before the referendum in late 1999. The green line represents the percentage of people who were for Australia becoming a republic, and the red line is people who were against it.

PollsPriorToReferendum99

Clearly the number of people who were pro-republic was materially higher than those against it. So how exactly did John Howard get the ‘people’s vote’ to go his way?

Tricky Howard divides and conquers

For Australia to become a republic, a referendum is needed to change the constitution. Howard clearly knew that a majority of Australians were pro-republic – so a simple vote as to whether or not Australia should become a republic was very very VERY unlikely to have gone the way he wanted it to. But like Abbott today, Howard never let a little thing like public opinion get in the way of him achieving his goals.

The key to reducing the ‘Yes’ vote was to divide and conquer. Simply put – those who were pro-republic didn’t all agree on which republican model Australia should adopt. The most popular model that came out of the people’s convention in 1998 was one where the public voted in a President to take the place of the Governor General. In fact, over 70% of Australians said that they were in favour of this model. A less popular model was one where the parliament voted for who was President (instead of regular Aussies).

And this was how Tricky Howard pulled a rabbit out of his monarchist’s hat – or should I say crown? He divided the pro-republic vote, by:

  • Combining the issue of whether or not Australia was to become a republic with the issue of what model should be used – asking only one question, and not two.
  • ONLY offering one republican model to the Australian people – and not the one that most people were in favour of. Instead he put forward the less popular model where politicians got to choose who the President was.

The actual referendum question put to Aussies was whether or not they approved of:

A proposed law: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.

Howard could have split this into two questions, asking first if people approved of Australia becoming a republic. And secondly, asking people which of two republic models they preferred (in the event that sufficient people voted yes in the previous question). But he didn’t do this.

By tying the question as to whether Australia became a republic to the less popular republican model, Howard all but guaranteed that the ‘Yes’ vote in favour of a republic would fail by dividing the pro-republic camp. And it worked. Instead of uniting against the ‘no-voters’, a portion of the ‘yes’ side switched camps, many under the mistaken belief that support for an Australian republic was so strong, that if the model they disapproved of was voted down, they would get another go at a vote for the model that they favoured.

And so the ‘no-vote’ – against Australia becoming a republic – triumphed. Howard’s divide and conquer strategy wasn’t the only reason of course – there were a number of others, including that the ‘no’ campaign utilised the popular campaign strategy of fear mongering – arguing that the republic would give even more power to politicians than they already had. In the words of the High Court Justice Michael Kirby:

“it was a belief that constitutional monarchy is a safer and more temperate form of government because it denies to political ambition the top office which such ambition commonly most prizes.” (Hon. Justice Michael Kirby, March 2000)

The vote for Australia to become a republic was defeated – 55 to 45.

And so tricky Howard, the staunch monarchist, was able to say that ‘good sense’ won out – that Australians had abandoned their desire for a republic, successfully hosing down the republic movement, which has been unable to gain any significant ground since then. Certainly it is not an issue that is commonly on the public agenda today.

Back to 2015, and Tricky Tony is facing his own battle on Marriage Equality

“From time immemorial in every culture that’s been known – marriage, or that kind of solemnised relationship, has been between a man and a woman.” (Tony Abbott, 23 October 2013)

This is not true of course – it’s another of Mr Abbott’s Truthiness phrases – but it does reflect Tony Abbott’s view on marriage equality. And just like Howard, he is faced with the fact that a clear majority of Australians don’t agree with him. In fact, according to regular polls which indicate that around 70% of Australians support marriage equality, an even greater proportion of Australians support marriage equality than did a republic.

So what is Tricky Tony to do? Well the two most honest options would be to:

  • Remember that he is the servant of the Australian people, our representative and not our ruler – and allow a ‘conscience vote’ permitting representatives in the LNP to vote in a way that represents their particular electorates. But if he did that, he’d risk not getting his way.
  • Come out strongly against marriage equality and seek confirmation from his LNP colleagues that this is their ongoing policy. Certainly based on last week’s party-room vote it seems that a majority of LNP representatives and senators do not support marriage equality – so he’d be likely to get backup in the party room for this. But if they did this, Abbot would risk Labor making this an election issue which might win them valuable votes – and let’s face it, he’s already looking pretty shaky.

Since neither of these options would lead to Abbott’s desired outcome on this issue, what he did instead was to ‘stack’ the party-room with National party imports, just to be doubly-sure that he had the numbers to stop marriage equality going to a conscience vote. But that wasn’t enough.

Abbott knows that he needs to neutralise marriage equality from becoming a problem for him at the next election – just as Howard did with the republican issue back in 1996. So Abbott, like Howard before him, has committed to putting this important issue to a people’s vote. And just like Howard, he has committed to do this in his next term of office – not straight away of course, but within three years of being elected. Just as Howard did.

According to Abbott, a vote for him is a vote for a people’s choice on marriage equality! Finally a story that is salable to the electorate and can potentially neutralise any advantage Labor has from its pro marriage equality policy.

But do we even need a people’s vote to introduce marriage equality?

No we don’t.

Unlike if Australia were to become a republic – which does require a referendum in order to change the constitution – a change to marriage laws doesn’t require a change to our constitution, and therefore doesn’t need to be put to a referendum (or plebiscite – which is essentially just a large opinion poll).

And people’s votes aren’t cheap – at least the way we do them currently. And while I’m all for people getting more involved in our democracy, at a cost in excess of $100 million, this is a HUGE expense, and will probably mean funding needs to be cut elsewhere.

Abbott could ask people what we think about marriage equality at the next election

We’re already going to the polls to vote at the next election. If Abbott is so committed to a people’s vote, he could put the question to us then. This would be a much cheaper and quicker way to give the people a vote on this issue than by undertaking a completely separate vote. But of course, according to Abbott, that would be distracting for us poor little voters. Apparently we’re unable to make more than one decision at a time.

Beware the politician bearing gifts – in this case a people’s vote

On the face of it, a people’s vote on marriage equality sounds like a good thing to do. But if Abbott is following Howard’s Playbook, then he will be looking for a way to divide and conquer on this question, just as Howard did with the republic. And if he succeeds at this – as Howard did with stopping the republic movement – at the end of the day, we’d be over a $100 million worse off, still not have marriage equality in place, and potentially set back the marriage equality movement for decades.

And so ‘People’s vote’ enters the Truthiness to English Dictionary

I’m calling it. The evidence is fairly conclusive – ‘People’s vote’ is a Truthiness phrase. When Abbott uses it, he makes it sound like he is supporting popular opinion on marriage equality, when all indications are that he is doing everything he can to make sure he gets his way on this issue.

I’ve provided the appropriate English translation below and it will shortly be entered into the official Truthiness to English dictionary as follows:

Truthiness: People’s Vote (as in ‘We’re going to put Marriage Equality to a People’s vote’)
English: Holding pattern – as in ‘I’m going to put Marriage Equality into a holding pattern until I can figure out how to make sure it doesn’t get through’

This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.

 

Labor need to stand for more than just climate change

The latest email from Labor read:

Roswell —

In case you missed it: last week Tony Abbott committed all of us to one of the weakest emissions reduction targets in the developed world – 26%.

This means we would fail to meet our commitment to help limit climate change to 2 degrees in the lead up to the Paris Climate Change Conference. Climate scientists say that if the world fails to limit warming to 2 degrees, we reach a dangerous tipping point where there are natural changes that release huge amounts of greenhouse gases like methane from melting permafrost and huge forest fires. That’s why we have to have a serious commitment to joining the world in limiting warming to 2 degrees, but it’s clear the only way to get real action on climate change is to get rid of Tony Abbott. He never believed the science of climate change, and not even the rest of the world can convince him.

The polls show the Australian people are well and truly over this guy, but a week is a long time in politics and we can’t assume we won’t have one hell of a fight on our hands to win back government and put in place a decent and responsible climate policy. To do that we need passionate Australians like you to give us a fighting chance at the next election and righting this wrong. Can you contribute $5 today?

The next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none. Labor has a vision to reach 50% of renewables by 2030 and we want to see our country do its part to reduce emissions. Please help us and together we can get this message out – climate change is too important for us to remain quiet.

Thank you for your support,

Skye Laris
Digital Director

Maybe, to a point, the next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none, but I don’t agree that it’s the only issue as they so suggest.

Perhaps they need to read my earlier post and start getting real vocal in their support for things like:

  • same sex marriage (glad to see that they do)
  • the National Broadband Network (which they’ve gone quiet on)
  • raising taxes for the rich (which they haven’t mentioned)
  • taxing the super profits of mining companies (which they’ve also gone quiet on)
  • getting rid of internet regulation (OK, they’ll be called hypocritical after first having supported it, but they shouldn’t have supported it in the first place)
  • holding politicians financially responsible for promoting false statements
  • investing in the construction of a high speed rail (they’ve also gone quiet on this)
  • pricing carbon emissions (we’re starting to here a whimper about this, but it’s all negative rubbish coming from Murdoch)
  • not allowing Coal Seam Gas (CSG) projects in Australia.

For goodness sake, start fighting for what the people want and don’t be afraid to mention it.

And by the way, I can’t spare the $5. However, if you start being a bit more proactive in listening to your supporters then I might chuck in ten.

Are our elected representatives really representing us?

The House of Representatives currently consists of 150 members, elected by and who represent single member districts.

How can they possible be representing us when people are asked:

  • Should Australia allow same sex marriage and 67 per cent say ‘yes’ (other polls show this as high as 72 per cent) yet most of our politicians don’t support it.

  • Should the Australian government continue to invest billions of dollars into the development of the National Broadband Network and 60 per cent say ‘yes’ but the government ignores them.

  • Should Australia raise taxes on the rich and 60 per cent say ‘yes’ but the government does the opposite.

  • Should Australia tax the super profits of mining companies and 71 per cent say ‘yes’ but the Abbott Government repeals the mining tax.

  • Should the federal government regulate the internet and 70 per cent say ‘no’ yet look at what the government (supported by the Opposition) has legislated.

  • Should politicians be held financially responsible for promoting false statements and 80 per cent say ‘yes’ . . . well, that’s a joke.

  • Should the federal government invest in the construction of a high speed rail and 61 per cent say ‘yes’ yet the government hasn’t even floated the idea.

  • Should Australia set a price on carbon emissions and 43 per cent say ‘no’ yet the government listened to them.

  • Should the government allow Coal Seam Gas (CSG) projects in Australia and only 47 per cent say ‘yes’ yet the government supports it.

If the elected representatives are not representing us, then who the hell are they representing?

Please note: the polls, like any poll, are always open to interpretation.

 

Tony Abbott: Verbis tribus tantum

Beginning this by saying that I think that same sex marriage is NOT what we should be discussing, and then immediately talking about same sex marriage may make some of you think that I’m inconsistent enough to be Tony Abbott.

However, I want to make the point that we shouldn’t be talking about same sex marriage because it should have been put to a vote and passed by now. The main arguments I’ve heard against gay marriage are in fact arguments against gay relationships themselves. For example, the argument that children deserve a mother AND a father has often distracted us into arguing that the children of people raised by those in a gay relationship haven’t turned out to be three-headed monsters, rather than making the simple point that – as this is already something occuring in our society – why shouldn’t these people be allowed to solemnise their relationship with a marriage?

Ok, Cory, I understand that you don’t approve of gay people, but they exist and have lives and some of them have children and and you seem to be saying that can’t stop that, but you can sure as hell, stop them getting married just to show them that they’re not normal like you. Thank god, say most of us!

Similarly, the idea that caterers or wedding photographers or printers could be forced to abandon their principles and service gay clients strikes me as slightly absurd. For a start, I’m not sure that too many people would want a photographer or caterer who had made it clear that they disapproved. And if people want to put a sign in their window telling us all that they don’t want to provide wedding services to gay people then that’s ok. Some of the rest of us could point out that we don’t want to provide services to people like them and I’ll leave it to others to boycott their business, but as far as I’m concerned they can just take their business and …

Oh, I seem to be distracted.

Anyway, I find the whole argument as strange as the one about Adam Goodes where people asserted that they had every right to boo whomsoever they liked, but nobody could call them racist because that hurt their feelings.

And as for the idea of a plebiscite, well, that sounds all very well. Unfortunately, the thing about deciding people’s “rights” to vote doesn’t have a very good history. Partly because the people who are seeking rights are often the people denied a vote. “The men took a vote and decided that there was no reason to give a vote to women!” If everybody votes that people with the surname “Murdoch” should surrender all their wealth and work as slaves, it might get through because of a certain hostility to one member of the family; for the rest of the family it may be considered a breach of their rights.

Mm, I planned to talk about Abbott’s strange love of coal and his determination that come what may we must protect our coal industry. He seems to have no similar commitment to cars, textiles or ships.

Yet I found myself talking about same sex marriage.

Strange that.

By the way, the title of this – Tony Abbott: Verbis tribus tantum is Latin:

“Tony Abbott: Three Words Only!”

It seems his motto!

 

Abbott: The homophobe

Let us call it how it is. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a homophobe.

Homophobe, as defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

“A person who hates or is afraid of homosexuals or treats them badly”.

Let’s just analyse that definition in the context of Abbott’s behaviour, language and actions.

A person.

This may be debateable in the context of Tony Abbott, but on the understanding that a person is an individual human, Abbott will likely scrape through. Of course, he appears to lack a moral compass, empathy, honesty, or compassion, but these are not prerequisites for being classed as a person.

Hates or is afraid of homosexuals.

This one is easy. Abbott has admitted himself that he is threatened by homosexuals. He believes that anything gay should be, you know, kept private, and not spoken about. He prefers a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on same sex love. He believes that homosexuality threatens the ‘right order of things’. Because everyone knows that the ‘right order of things’ relates to exactly which sexual organ goes where, and that is all that matters when it comes to love and relationships.

Or does ‘the right order of things’ really relate to his belief that women should treat their virginity as a gift not to be given pre-marriage? Or that women should remain at home, doing the ironing, while their husbands are doing the man’s thing at work? Of course, Abbott tempers his further ‘right order’ views that a woman should not withhold sex from her husband, by clarifying that men should not demand sex.

Regardless, the whole ‘right order of things’ issue does seem to have a kind of ‘sexual focus’.

Naturally, Abbott has attempted to counter his clearly homophobic attitude with the traditional defence against any sort of socially unacceptable discrimination.

‘I have many friends who are gay’, Abbott says.

Just as the racist-in-denial declares they have many friends who are ‘black’. The admitted bigotry only extends to those who aren’t friends, although Abbott is clearly happy for his friends to be treated as second class citizens when it comes to marriage equality.

Abbott’s language also provides a clue as to the depth of his fear of the homosexual lifestyle. In 2010, he reportedly told Tony Windsor that he would do anything to be Prime Minister, except ‘sell his arse’. He will do anything. Anything at all. Except compromise the sanctity of his rear. Of course this is just a standard saying, one of those commonly heard phrases that no one should take personally – just like calling a person ‘gay’ as an insult. Oh. Right.

Treats them badly.

Abbott has been loud and clear on his personal fear of people of same sex orientation. But up until this point, his personal view has not been forced onto the rest of the nation.

But now it has.

Abbott, while declaring to the Coalition that marriage equality is a ‘deeply personal’ issue, has forced his own ideological beliefs onto the rest of his party by refusing a conscience vote on same sex marriage legislation. As a result he has almost certainly quashed the likelihood of same sex marriage being legalised any time soon.

And how did he do this? By tricky, slippery means, called out by Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, as something akin to ‘branch stacking’. When Pyne is the voice of honesty, transparency and fairness in Government, there is a serious problem.

Same sex couples already have the same legal rights as married couples. Legalising same sex marriage will simply have the effect of affording all couples acceptance in the community and place them on an equal standing with every other family. All mums and dads can be married. All children have the opportunity to grow up in a nationally recognised institution if their parents so wish. All couples can stand before family and friends and say ‘I love you’, with perhaps a ring that is the symbol of a legally binding relationship. Marriage.

But no. Abbott doesn’t want that for gay people.

And he has yet to provide even the remotest acceptable reason why. Why would he force his personal ideology on the rest of the nation? A nation that has majority support for marriage equality?

Abbott has been accused of misogyny, of being sexist, of having a ‘woman problem’. But perhaps Abbott is just obsessed with sexuality. He is a man who clearly struggles to keep sexuality and physical attractiveness out of politics.

He described a female Liberal Party candidate as having ‘sex appeal’.

‘I’m the guy with the not-bad looking daughters’, he told the nation.

‘A bit of full body contact never hurt anyone’, Abbott happily told a bunch of teenage netballers.

‘You’d be the most popular girl in the place, wouldn’t you’? he famously asked a female utility worker.

And who can forget that wink and smirk when confronted by the angry pensioner who worked on an adult sex line to make ends meet.

Abbott has a penchant for prancing around in the most revealing of sportswear. Skin tight lycra, nifty red speedos, and tight running pants. Does he see himself as so insanely attractive that if same sex marriage was legalised he would be inundated with proposals? No one is asking Tony to be gay. Or even to sell his arse.

All Australians want is equality.

If anything is to come from this, at least we know this is a rare occasion when Tony is actually being honest. Even if it does ensure Australia’s same sex couples are continued to be treated as second class citizens.

 

The politics of solidarity

Solidarity is an idea that is in the foundations of the ALP, writes Tim Curtis, and that means sticking together to fight for the common goals.

This weekend, as did many others I presume, I engaged in some Bill-hating as the ALP conference decided to support a boat-turn-back policy.

As I thought about this I was struck by a question: If I was so concerned with boat-turn-backs, why had I not joined the ALP? And then attended the conference so that my vote, my voice could have made a difference. How could I deservedly be annoyed at a group of people who I had tasked with representing me, when I had taken no direct action beyond writing some letters to make my apparently strongly held view known (contrary to populist belief Facebook and online petitions do not count).

As my self-righteous indignation began to subside I wondered to myself … “I wonder”, I wondered, “is this how Cory Bernadi feels when he doesn’t get his way on abortion?”

It has to be noted that Bernardi, and many others on the lunatic fringe of right-wing politics are rarely seen complaining in public that their particular policy wishes have not been taken on as central party platforms.

Instead he and others fall in line behind the mainstream neo-liberals and conservatives to show a solid front. When there is opportunity, Bernardi flies his freak flag high; but even then there is a definite sense that it is part of a larger design, that the timing of his “outbursts” are to draw away from something else, or to otherwise push the conversation further to where the neo-conservatives want them.

This led to a very uncomfortable thought. The thought that the success of the Right in taking government, and in dictating the terms under which progressive governments operated, and ultimately in controlling the narrative on the economy, immigration, defence and security, came from their unity: The Solidarity of the political Right. It sounds contradictory, and yet when do we see the hard-line neo-liberal voters moaning and complaining that job creators are still being overtaxed in the same way that refugee advocates attack their party of choice on a regular basis? And make no mistake; for the true-blood neo-liberal a completely unshackled market attracts just as much fervour on the Right as social justice does on the Left.

The discomfort does not stop there. At the ALP conference there was strong support for renewable energy and for marriage equality. Why not add refugee advocacy and make it triple-threat?

For the simple reason that it is an election loser.

Right now the ALP has a sure winner in marriage equality. It is also on a winner with renewables; it can co-opt many country and farming votes who feel betrayed by the National party on mining and CSG. It can also pitch action on climate change as means of supporting the expansion of Australia’s renewable energy industry, in turn as a means of rebuilding the shattered manufacturing sector in Australia. This is a pro-job platform that will resonate well in town and country and is sure to be a popular idea amongst all those ex-car industry workers and car-part service businesses and smart manufacturing in general across the nation.

Refugees, or boat people as they are known in the tabloids, have no such sympathies. Gone are the Post-Vietnam days where Australians felt responsible, felt culpable for the dire straits that South-East Asian refugees found themselves in after the fall of Saigon. Refugees from Afghanistan or the Arabian Peninsula, fleeing the mess that we in no small part took a hand in creating, are perhaps not as cuddly. Or maybe Australia has become hardened to the hardships of others because ‘we have our own problems’. Unemployment is up, wages are down, the rich get richer, and our great outdoors seems to be up for grabs to any foreign interest with enough cash to open a politician’s pocket.

Whatever the reasons: If the ALP attempted to go to the next election with a new refugee policy it would lose. There is no one who can honestly look at the untrammelled hysteria in political discourse in Australia and say otherwise.

What the ALP can do is the same thing that Tony Abbott has done: make promises, and then … when in power … change the conversation. Look at what Tony Abbott has achieved with countless NBN and ABC inquiries, Royal commissions, the Commission of Audit, and reviews into anything that can possibly change attitudes and direct the conversation.

Imagine how the public view would change after a parliamentary inquiry into refugee policy and into conditions on Manus Island? Complete hard-nosed analysis of the costs to tax-payers, with heart-warming stories about asylum seekers who have saved country towns from oblivion, and heart-breaking stories about how the Taliban came only hours after the Aussie soldiers had flown away home. These are things that can only happen from inside government.

There are many, including myself, who have had a lesson in realpolitik this weekend. As much as anyone in the ALP wants to change the policies toward Australia’s treatment of refugees, they all know that it is a guaranteed way to lose the next election. And despite what many might be saying about The Greens, it is fairly clear that after the last Federal and State elections, and in particular the election in Liverpool Plains, that The Greens are unlikely to be able to field enough candidates or win enough votes to form government alone, and almost certainly will not be able to win in the areas that the ALP need to win to swing the Liberal-National Coalition out of government.

So where does this leave us?

Sad. Angry. Yes, and more. Though I am more saddened by how quickly the level of conversation in Australia has returned to the bad old days of the Yellow Peril, and I am more angry at myself for being so hopefully naïve that Tony Abbott could lose an election with this issue on the table, when in reality it is likely that it would help him retain office in a sequel to Tampa.

What comes next is possibly even harder. I am still dedicated to changing Australia’s Refugee policy, but I now realise that is going to take time. Time to change the way people think so that tabloid radio, television and newspapers, and more importantly their readers are no longer interested in demonising refugees. And the longer that Tony Abbott and his ilk are in power, the longer it is going to take to drag Australia from the precipice of fear and loathing and back into the light. This means that while I will still hold to my beliefs, while I will still critique, I will also get behind the torches that we do have; marriage equality and action on climate change and do everything I can to get a government that will take action on the big social and economic issues. Because if I do not, then Tony Abbott will likely be re-elected and keep selling off public assets, keep selling out to corporate interests, and keep selling us all up the river with a co-payment for the a paddle.

Solidarity is an idea that is in the foundations of the ALP. Solidarity doesn’t mean that we always agree with each other. Indeed nor should we. What it does mean is that we stick together to fight for the common goals, and to forward our personal or factional goals as much as possible. All the while keeping our eye on the big picture, on the greater goal; of regaining an Australia that is the land of the fair go and where we truly do have boundless plains to share.

 

Ten Questions for Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong

Yesterday, along with many others I watched the much anticipated marriage equality debate between Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong. I found some of the questions from the press gallery quite predictable. I felt the questions did not really challenge what marriage equality may mean for us as we progress as a nation. I have put together ten questions I would have liked to have asked Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong.

Question 1 – Twelve Year Olds
Many young people dream of their wedding. Even at twelve years old I dreamt of my wedding and would often gaze at a good looking boy in my class and wonder if it would be him. If marriage equality becomes the norm, how will the world change for all twelve year olds?

Question 2 – Is it time to really scrutinise marriage?
Marriage as currently defined, has no specific parameters of what that actually means, besides the union of a man and a woman. If a man and a woman are married, they can live a life as a sham. They do not need to sleep in the same bed or even live in the same home or even town. They do not have to share parenting, or be good parents or even be parents and there is always a contentious argument of if and when the housework is actually shared equally. Heterosexual married couples do not even have to treat each other with respect or endearment. They do not even have to be in love.

My question is, if we do not question the validity of what marriage means, outside of the bringing together of gender opposites, then why is the anti-marriage equality side constantly debating the morals, scruples and behaviour of the LGBTQI community who would like to be married? If this is such a strong area of concern, how do we redress the imbalance here if the anti-marriage equality advocates do succeed? Should we have more scrutiny of heterosexual married couples?

Question 3 – Gender Transformation
If an individual who is married decides to undertake the journey of gender transformation; what do the current laws mean for the married couple if they want to stay together, if both individuals identify and are legally recognised as the same gender? How will marriage equality have an impact on individuals who undertake the journey of gender transformation,and their spouse?

Question 4 – Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a very prominent issue in Australia at present. Domestic violence is often discussed in terms of between a man and a woman, rather than between two people. There is now a shift in reports and language surrounding intimate partner violence, which includes same sex relationships. How will marriage equality assist Governments to legislate for protections for all people in domestic violence situations and enable Governments to fund programs inclusive for all victims of domestic violence?

Question 5 – Atonement
Because it is 2015 and Australia still does not have marriage equality, there may be some LGBTQI people in our community who have felt they could not just ‘be who they are’ and may have chosen to live a life married in a heterosexual relationship for whatever reasons they decided this was best for them. If marriage equality is achieved, is it fair to say that there may be some resentment from those who feel they have been forced to make decisions they would not have had to? Is it fair to say that by not recognising marriage equality earlier, we have not allowed people to live a full life with freedom of individual expression and decision making and how do we as a nation atone for this?

Question 6 – A parent’s perspective
As a mother to a newly engaged daughter, my excitement is over-whelming awaiting the wedding. Weddings are something which do bring family and friends together for such a celebration of love and happiness. Weddings are seen as a key milestone for so many. I see myself as someone who is privileged to enjoy this excitement and my heart pains for mothers and fathers who do not have this privilege. From the perspective as a parent, how does a Government see their role in interfering in such a personal, individual celebration of love which is only afforded to mothers and fathers given this privilege? This question is particularly for Senator Bernardi, considering his Government favours small Government and is supposed to favour distancing themselves from interference in the private sphere.

Question 7 – Our social fabric
One of the biggest arguments for marriage equality is that it will end discrimination and enable equality for all. As per my last question, marriage is currently for those privileged to do so under our laws. If we do not allow same-sex couples to ‘be’ as heterosexual couples are allowed to just ‘be’ then our social fabric will always be woven from those in a position of privilege. How can our social fabric ever be complete when we are unconscious of a discourse that is currently silent about love, understanding and togetherness for all? How will marriage equality assist to weave our social fabric or in Senator Bernardi’s case destroy our social fabric?

Question 8 – Regional and Rural communities
I live in a regional community and I am aware that as I have aged over the years, many friends from my younger days have moved on to live in capital cities where communities are generally more supportive of LGBTQI Individuals, as regional and rural communities have not been very supportive in their experience. Some studies also cite very harsh treatment towards LGBTQI people who reside in regional and rural communities with some contemplating suicide or sadly, taking their own lives. What impact will marriage equality have on LGBTQI individuals living in rural and regional communities and what impact will marriage equality have in shaping these communities as a whole?

Question 9 – A Government’s responsibility to understand all groups in society
Although liberal feminism has achieved some great progress for women; liberal feminism was criticised by women of colour for excluding their lived experiences of discrimination and their need to redress areas of discrimination. This is because liberal feminists made assumptions from the perspective of middle class white women. Feminism has evolved to now women of colour having a much stronger voice and leading the issues in many areas of feminism. Including more experiences from a broader range of individuals can only result in better informed legislation. There are many areas of social policy and statistics collections where research assumptions are made on research and data collected from a heteronormative viewpoint. For example, there is little data to understand issues for single mothers who were previously in a same-sex relationship.

As it is the Government’s responsibility to develop social policies and legislate for same; isn’t it also the Government’s responsibility to ensure they have an understanding of all groups in society? How will marriage equality impact on the development of social policy and legislation of same? If Cory Bernardi believes these groups should be excluded by default by not having marriage equality legislation to redress this imbalance, does he support ill-informed legislation and policies?

Question 10 – Tolerance and conscience vote versus binding vote.
Anthony Albanese (Albo) on ABC Qanda on 1 June indicated in his response to a question about marriage equality and a conscience vote, is that we need to tolerate and respect the views of others to bring them along with us. We have many different pieces of legislation which already make discrimination unlawful. Therefore, the battle against discrimination and inequality has been won on many fronts with political parties or Governments coming together to legislate for change to enable equality.

My question is about a conscience vote versus a binding vote. I question whether a conscience vote is a necessary patience, or a subconscious accommodation for the class of people who understand discrimination well enough in other contexts; but not when it involves stamping out discrimination for something they fear. The same class of people who use religion, ignorance and/or prejudice as a shield to ward off progress. As a progressive, I do not feel I need to respect groups or individuals who actively fight against progress and who uphold discrimination.

So my question is: How do Governments or even political parties make the decision about what is characterised to be morally and ethically sufficient or insufficient to determine whether a binding vote or conscience vote will be used? Also, to truly progress, how tolerant should we be of all views?

Originally posted on Polyfeministix – take a poll about how you will vote here

The Biggest Consequence of Marriage Equality

As a self confessed social media junkie and one who believes qualitative analysis is damn sexy; reading the marriage equality debate online across many forums has been like the moment Augustus Gloop saw Willy Wonka’s river of chocolate. Here is Augustus standing at the edge of this stream of endless deliciousness and excitement – the best thing he has seen in his life; and he is hungry for it. He wants to touch it, taste it and be part of it. However, coming up from behind him is this eccentric and very strange man, (who mumbles many, many things that simply do not make sense and answers questions with more questions and never, ever gives a proper answer) screaming at him not to touch the river; not to contaminate his beautiful river or he will ruin it forever.

This is the parallel to the online marriage equality debate. There are couples who are standing at the edge of the real prospect of marriage equality and yet there are those who are caps locking us to death, screaming at us with warnings of the contamination of society and ruining society and marriage forever.

The other parallel to this scene from this 1971 classic is that Augustus enjoyed for a brief moment in time, just a tiny taste of the river before he suddenly went down the tube and the pressure forced him up the pipe into oblivion (well, possibly the fudge room) to be never seen again. Between December 7 – 12, 2013, couples could experience just a taste of marriage equality and couples were married under the new ACT law. However, this suddenly went down the tube and forced up the pipe by the Christian lobby groups and the Abbott Government to the high court just a few days later, where it was blasted into oblivion and never seen again.

The other curious parallel to this scene is this eccentric suit wearing man calls to his little followers, the Oopma Loompas to lead Augustus’ mother up high to where Augustus possibly awaits certain death. Wonka then calls after them “Goodbye! Across the desert lies the promised land.” We can metaphorically link this to the “vast barren desert of no hope” Tony Abbott expects couples to cross before they will reach the promised land of marriage equality.

Interestingly, the Oompa Loompas remain silent and obey Wonka with a nodding of heads and then break into a song about actions and consequences. How peculiar is the similarity to Abbott’s comment on the 12 December, 2013, when the high court overturned the ACT marriage equality laws. Abbott’s comments were about risk in the action of taking the opportunity to marry and having to accept the consequences of this action.

Is this where the comparison ends? The moral of the entire story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is if you are honest, good, gracious and kind to others and put others before yourself; your reward will be to inherit a wonderful world to make your own and share with others. Is it possible that Abbott will put his prejudice aside and allow a bill to pass which grants a pathway to a better world? Only time will tell.

The Biggest Consequence of Marriage Equality

The biggest consequence of marriage equality is that we will be able to understand our social fabric as a tightly knitted woven thread. The consequence of not having marriage equality is that our social fabric will remain as one loosely sewn by those of privilege. This is where my primary concern for this debate lies – that we don’t know what this other inclusive world looks like or sounds like. My concern is there is something missing from the narrative in this country and that is ‘the world of married same-sex couples.’ By denying equality, by blatantly discriminating based on gender, we are not allowing our society to develop as a whole in collegiality. We are forcing pockets of silence and darkness upon an entire population of people in this country. We are shutting doors and issuing confined space tickets to same sex couples. We are not granting the space and privilege in society others enjoy.

We are not allowing this space in society to understand marriage for all people. Marriage equality is also such an issue as the social and legal constructs of Australia, predominantly focus on hetero-sexual white (European) thought and many in society tend to view LGBTQIA as ‘outsiders’. Society for the most part stigmatises LGBTQIA people and this is evidenced through existing derogatory language targeting this group, which is often viewed as acceptable ”Aussie slang.’ Extreme difficulties and targeting of people coming out are told in personal recounts, particularly in rural and regional communities 1. Our legal system also supports such a society. This is evidenced by laws such as the homosexual provocation law still in existence in Australia today and the ongoing and uphill battle to ensure marriage equality for everyone. It is also prefaced by the inability to understand fully the issues facing LGBTQIA relationships through lack of data available on this group. For example, one of my previous blog posts about single parents and welfare discusses the absence of data on single parents resulting from a same-sex marriage / unit breakdown.

Stigma is woven as part of our social fabric

As a member of a regional community, the research I have completed for this article, includes the harsh reality for LGBTQIA people living in regional, rural and remote communities. Depression, suicide, stigma and abuse are common themes, as is leaving their home town, family and friends to move to a larger, more understanding environment. I contemplated what that would be like. I reflected on what it would feel like to be treated as ‘an other’ and feel not fully accepted in my community and alter my life, due to an inherent trait I cannot control. I reflected on what it would be like to feel forced to move away from my loved ones and family, so I could have a ‘stab’ at ‘normal.’

With stigma, society separates the ‘normals’ from the ‘other.’ In this instance it is gender and/or sexuality, which pockets of society choose as the inherent trait to separate as ‘the other’. However, imagine for a second, this inherent trait was blue eyes, or shoe size over size 7, or freckled skin. Imagine being stigmatised, cast aside and unable to access the same rights of others because of your eye colour, shoe size or freckles. These traits are beyond our control and if the examples I have chosen seem preposterous; the active choice to stigmatize any individual or group in society for an inherent trait is exactly that.

Some of the arguments within the marriage equality debate online use Christianity as an excuse to discriminate. Online they patronisingly deliver these judgements against others ‘with love.’ Where is it ever taught in the bible to fight with all your might to make people less equal than you? To make someone believe they are less worthy than you because you were born as a heterosexual? To cause people the pain and grief of stigma and ostracisation? Where does it say in the Bible to do that? If it does say any of these things, it is a seriously sick book that should be banned. Let people be happy and enjoy their lives. We only get one life. That is it. From this day forward no one should every feel alone, isolated, depressed or suicidal because they are attracted to someone of the same sex, or they feel they are two genders, or they aren’t sexually attracted to either sex, or they feel like they were born in the wrong body and want to change that. From this day, right now it needs to stop. Every day you judge, every day you stigmatise, cast aside another as lesser, you take away the joy, love and acceptance that they could be experiencing instead. If this is you. If you do this. Look in the mirror and say “What sort of person am I to do this to another?”

What sort of country are we choose to have a social fabric that is full of holes, instead of whole?

design ssm 2

I have hope that this new inclusive and holistic society is well on track to emerge. However, I do not believe it will be in the term of this Government or if this Government is returned to office.

On April, 26, 2015 Tanya Plibersek Deputy Leader of the Opposition of the Australian Labor Party announced that she would be pushing the Labor Party for a binding vote on Marriage Equality and ending the choice of a conscience vote for the party. Plibersek’s argument is that Marriage Equality is a case for discrimination and the Labor Party is the Party opposed to discrimination. On Monday 1st June, 2015, Bill Shorten, Opposition Leader introduced a bill to parliament which proposes to alter the Marriage Act to define marriage as between two people. Tanya Plibersek seconded the Bill. The reason I do not believe that marriage equality will exist under the Abbott Government; is that his Government responded to this bill with contempt, through their silent boycott and absence from the chamber. Every member of the Coalition Government purposely being absent during the reading of this bill, indicates a lack of support for marriage equality and their overwhelming attitude that marriage equality and the rights of LGBTQAI people are irrelevant and are not worthy of their time in Parliament.

Tanya Plibersek believes that the vote should be binding within the Labor Party. As a member of the Labor Party; I fully support this. I support this for the reason that it is discrimination. I listened to Anthony Albanese (Albo) on ABC Qanda on 1 June and he indicated in his response we need to tolerate and respect the views of others to bring them along with us. I question whether this is a necessary patience, or a subconscious accommodation for the class of people who understand discrimination well enough in other contexts; but not when it involves stamping out discrimination for something they fear. The same class of people who use religion and/or prejudice as a shield to ward off progress. As a progressive, I do not feel I need to respect groups or individuals who actively fight against progress and who uphold discrimination.

To me, asking me to respect people’s opinions against marriage equality, is like asking me to respect people who are for racism, ableism and sexism. I don’t respect that. It is not a question of conscience. It is a question of enabling discrimination.

I look forward to a world, where I am not asked or expected to respect people who actively uphold discrimination and who stifle progress.

What are the arguments for marriage equality and discrimination?

Finally, I would like to end this article with research I have completed for an earlier 20103 blog post. I want to re-post it here as I believe it supports Tanya Plibersek’s stance that the Marriage Act in its current form, is discrimination. NB: This research was originally conducted with a specific focus on women and marriage equality. It is not my intent for the purpose of this section to exclude others.

Discrimination against women, through lack of legislation supporting marriage equality.

Although both men and women are discriminated against through lack of legislation supporting marriage equality; my focus at this point is to discuss points of discrimination, particular to women. I will address two areas, discrimination through legislation and discrimination by default through exclusion in society.The Subsection 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as ‘…the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’ The definition of the marriage act, merely states that this is a union voluntarily entered into for life. There are no specific parameters which specify what a union means. This is defined in Mary Case’s journal article, “What feminists have to lose in same-sex marriage litigation’2

A marriage certificate now allows heterosexual couples to have an open marriage, to live in different cities or in different apartments in the same city, to structure their finances as they please, without having their commitment or the legal benefits that follow from it challenged (p. 1203).

As there are very little restrictions relating to the private behaviours of the marital union, this act is discriminatory purely on the grounds of sex. This is only for persons who identify with having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are distinctly characterised as male or distinctly characterised as female. Therefore, marriage as defined as a union between a man and a woman, itself is discriminatory based on sex alone.

Women are discriminated within this act as it focuses on ‘sex’ and not ‘gender. This act excludes all persons who identify with a gender, that isn’t normative to their physically or biologically recognised ‘sex’. This act discriminates against all persons who identify as inter-sex. This Act excludes all persons on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. 3

Women are also discriminated against, through legislation informing a society, which excludes understanding and valuing the experiences of unions that are not specifically between a heterosexual man and woman.

Various academic journals discuss that marriage is ingrained in the patriarchal notion that women are subordinate in society. Although this notion is not as entrenched within our whole society today; a quick search of Google for ‘subordinate wife’ will return over six million hits, with a high volume supporting the subordination of women/wives, particularly in a religious context. Through legislating marriage as it currently exists, many women are discriminated against and are exempt from marriage, simply because they choose not to have a union with a man and some because they view marriage as placing women in a subordinate role to men.

Mary Case also highlights in her article, that before becoming pope, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger advocated for a normative view on gender in relation to subordination of women. This is an excerpt of his 2004 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World.

“This theory of the human person, intended to promote prospects for equality of women through liberation from biological determinism, has in reality inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality……… While the immediate roots of this second tendency are found in the context of reflection on women’s roles, its deeper motivation must be sought in the human attempt to be freed from one’s biological conditioning. According to this perspective, human nature in itself does not possess characteristics in an absolute manner: all persons can and ought to constitute themselves as they like, since they are free from every predetermination linked to their essential constitution.”

For Australia to move forward, we need to eradicate the stigma by enabling marriage equality for all. It stands to reason that the existence of ‘unions’ and the ‘recognition of same-sex partnerships has not eradicated the stigma which forms the basis for the opposition to marriage equality. The only way forward is to use legislation as a tool to reform society, which will in turn see marriage equality as a lawful and accepted norm in our society. There needs to be a Golden Ticket to allow us access into this new world and this Golden ticket is the Bill presented by Bill Shorten and seconded by Tanya Plibersek to amend the definition of marriage in Australia and the new world is the world which includes marriage equality for all.

Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

Originally Published on Polyfeministix

1. Gottschalk, LH 2007, ‘Coping with stigma: Coming out and living as lesbians and gay men in regional and rural areas in the context of problems of rural confidentiality and social exclusion’, Rural Social Work & Community Practice, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 31-46.

2. Case M, 2010, ‘What feminists have to lose in same-sex marriage litigation’, UCLA Law Review, vol. 57, no. 5, pp. 1199-1234

3. Sex Discrimination Act 1984