Same-sex marriage laws have been overturned

News has just come in that the High Court has overturned Australia’s first same-sex marriage law. This is disgraceful, in my opinion.

The Canberra Times reports that the “court was due to hand down its findings in the landmark case at 12.15pm, however, a statement announcing the decision was accidentally published on the court’s website about 20 minutes before the six judges handed down their findings”.

Nothing appears on the other news sites yet but we will keep you posted.

Tony Abbott’s challenge to equality

Photo: Public interest advocacy centre

Photo: Public interest advocacy centre

Marriage equality has now become law in the ACT.  Even prior to the vote being taken, Tony Abbott and his Attorney General Senator George Brandis had announced their intention to stop this legislation, the threat from Brandis being that any same-sex person who married in the ACT would have their marriages declared void.

It seems that this is their intention; not only to forbid marriage equality in Australia but to nullify any and all marriages which do occur.  A cynic might consider that this attitude is nothing more than a revenge scenario against same-sex couples who might marry under ACT law. The haste with which the Liberal government has commenced proceedings does little to ally suspicions that prevention of any marriages occurring thereby adding validity to those marriages, is the prime reason for the scramble to get to court.

Abbott’s clear intention is to stop gay marriage, and at all costs.  One must consider that these words spoken on the 23rd August and just a matter of days prior to the election, were for electioneering purposes only.

In another step on the road to a likely eventual change in the Australian law, Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, now says the policy on the same-sex marriage will be decided by the party room after the election.

Tony Abbott has made an important shift in the Liberal position on gay marriage.

Should there be further sly comments from Abbott that the policy of the Liberal party is that there would be no shift towards marriage equality, and that this was the policy that he took to the election, then remind him of these words.  Current weasel words are:

‘‘It is not a question of being for or against gay marriage – it’s a question of adhering to the constitution,’’ Mr Abbott told Fairfax Radio in Melbourne.

And Tony Abbott for one has absolutely no intention of changing this – after all according to Abbott gay relationships are nothing other than “a lifestyle choice”.  At least he didn’t add, thus the unclean and doers of abominations shalt rot in the seven fires of Hell.

Tony Abbott and George Brandis seem intent on rejecting the rights of some Australian citizens to marry and for no other reason than their own perceptions of what is “a moral code”.  Brandis might use the public excuse of “inconsistency”, but while speaking against amending the Marriage Act to redefine marriage, Senator George Brandis said:

[traditional marriage] views reflect the entire understanding and the entire course of human history of what a marriage is.

This of course is highly debatable; that marriage as it is currently expressed in Australian Federal legislation is in any way representative of what marriage has been during “the entire course of human history”, however, what it does do is to provide the real reasons, which are only a little to do with consistency between state and federal legislation and a lot to do with the discriminatory attitudes of the two main players; Tony Abbott and George Brandis.

Whether or not the ACT legislation will be successfully challenged is an issue for Constitutional lawyers and the High Court.  Brandis’s argument that all state and federal laws should be consistent does not appear to be as valid as one might think, given that there are a number of other inconsistencies between jurisdictions, and should Abbott choose to do as he has promised and change racial discrimination legislation in support of Andrew Bolt, this will add to these inconsistencies.

The ACT legislation has given a previously excluded section of Australian society the right to marry.  The High Court must therefore decide whether or not to take away these rights, and if it should choose to do so, consider whether this would set a precedent to allow the government to take away the rights of other groups of people.  I am hopeful in this regard, as the High Court has always had the tendency towards inclusion rather than exclusion.

Tony Abbott is determined not to allow such legislation to proceed due to his own personal beliefs, however, the question which needs to be considered is whether Abbott as Prime Minister should be considering whether it is right that his own personal convictions should be the vehicle to prevent others from fully participating in all the benefits of Australian society: as citizens.

Mr Abbott please consider; this is not an “ungodly intimacy”, but rather society’s acceptance that those who love should have the right to marry.

Kevin Rudd’s message: it’s time for marriage equality

Gay Marriage

From the Prime Minister this evening:

If I am re-elected Prime Minister, I will support marriage equality legislation in the first 100 days of Parliament.

At this evening’s debate, I made that commitment to the Australian people.

If you think it’s time for marriage equality, I’d like you to stand with me and show the country that we think it’s time:

I’ve been thinking about the meaning of marriage for a long time – and I won’t hide the fact that this has been a journey for me. It is a difficult discussion, and I won’t force this on anyone. It will be a free vote for members of the Labor Party.

But here is what I know: we are at our best when we give all Australians the same dignity, the same opportunity for happiness.

I believe that no matter who we love, we all should be able to make that same promise I was able to make to Therese over 30 years ago. That all of us should be allowed to marry the one we love.

I am the first Prime Minister of this country going into an election promising to support marriage equality. So if you support equal marriage, I will need your support.

This is an issue that is very personal to people. What moves us to take a stand on this issue can move others too. If you think it’s time for marriage equality, share your story telling the country why.

Three Little Words

The news that Britain’s Conservative and Liberal Coalition Government has just passed an Act which legalises same sex marriage may give our Parliament and our Prime Minister some food for thought.

The effect of Britain’s legislation, openly championed by Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron, takes the issue of same sex marriage out of the domain of some sinister left-wing plot to undermine “traditional values” and into the realm of an underpinning of conservative (small c) values. It places same sex couples on the same social and cultural level as heterosexual married couples – something which legal safeguards alone such as complete equality in superannuation for same sex couples does not do.

In the UK legislation religious organisations are allowed to choose whether or not they will perform same sex marriage ceremonies. Since according to the last UK census in 2010 68% of marriages in England and Wales were civil ceremonies (a similar percentage to Australia’s), it is likely that religious bodies are not going to be inundated with pressure to perform same sex ceremonies.

ABS statistics do not tell the full story but could be regarded as our most accurate measure of possible demand for same sex marriage. ABS says

The total of 33,714 same-sex couples in 2011 was 32% higher than the number in 2006. Same-sex couples increased both in number and as a proportion of all couples in every Census after 1996, when this information was first compiled. The increases may in part reflect greater willingness by people to identify themselves as same-sex couples in the Census. It could also to some extent reflect an increased awareness that counts of same-sex couples are compiled from the Census – giving more reason to supply this information.

If we extrapolate a figure of 60% or thereabouts for same sex couples who wish to marry in Australia out of an estimated 33 714  couples then we are looking at around 20 000 couples who may wish to marry. Or who may wish to have the choice, as all de-facto heterosexual couples potentially do.

Hardly a tsunami of social change and revolution.

The beauty of such a humane measure will be it is virtually cost free. The folk at Canprint the Government printer might have to change their marriage stationery templates. There might be some pencil chewing at the various state registries of BDMs.

But legislating for same sex marriage is virtually a cost-free legislative reform which will probably make at least 20 000 couples, their families, friends and their kids and potential kids happy with no repercussions for the rest of us.

For Prime Minister Julia Gillard, under pressure as she is from trogdolytes like Joe de Bruyn the solution is simple. We are even happy to draft some legislation for her for free. No scary stuff. No polygamy, polyandry or bestiality. The curtains won’t fade, the horses won’t be spooked.

All that is required is the following:

A Bill for an Act to amend Section 5(1) of the  Marriage Act 1961.

that all words after the word “marriage” be replaced by other words.

The other words being

…means the union of two adult persons to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life.

More than 60% of Australians cannot be wrong

The Homophobic Church

What is it with the Church and their open display of homophobia? It’s as though they have been awarded with the God-given right to decide who is a good person and who is not. In their eyes, being a homosexual does not qualify the person as being a valid human being.

The Christian mouthpiece, Catholic Archbishop George Pell’s views on homosexuality first came into the spotlight, with the gay and lesbian community at least, back in 1999 when he was quoted as saying:

  • homosexuality, especially among the young, is not a “fixed” or “in-escapable” condition and youth should be discouraged from “going in that direction”
  • those who “work to win recruits to homosexual practice” and “the homosexual community” must share some of the blame for, “the suicide of homosexuals”
  • the “gay agenda” seeks to “silence public discussion of health risks” which are “much greater than smoking” and to “lower the age of con-sent and recruit new members to the sub-culture”.
  • moreover, the “homosexual orientation often brings suffering, but acting this out generally brings greater suffering, particularly when accompanied by adult seduction.”
  • therefore, “to legitimise homosexual activity and boost the recruitment drive would only make a sad situation far more sad”.
  • the Church will be “working consistently to stop the spread of the gay agenda in our schools.”

Further displays of his homophobia also came into the spotlight in 2000 when as Archbishop for Melbourne he refused to give communion to gays and lesbians in St Patricks. We learn, from that incident that:

The archbishop’s homophobia has not been confined to church ceremonies. In one instance, when asked about how the church will address the issue of homophobia in schools, Pell responded “We will be doing nothing to encourage the spread of the gay agenda in Catholic schools and we will be consistently working to oppose it”.

When asked if he was concerned with the effects of homophobia on youth he responded, “If [youth suicides] are connected with homosexuality, then that is another reason to be discouraging people going in that direction”.

Pell further outraged gays and lesbians as well as AIDS activists when, on one occasion, he referred to homosexuality as “being a greater risk than smoking”.

And back in 2002 he again refused Holy Communion to openly gay and lesbian parishioners. He followed with this Almighty attack:

Our Judeo-Christian religious tradition allows men and women sexual expression within the bounds of family life, a sexuality which is life-giving. Homosexual acts are contrary to the natural law, they close the sexual act to the gift of life.

It’s laughable that this man was availed the opportunity to submit his opinion to a Senate inquiry into amendments to the Marriage Act.

Evidence of homophobia in the Church is not confined to our most high-profile religious leader and not confined to Australia. It seems to be a phenomenon in the Mother Country as well.

In London, Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities Minister said religious leaders had a responsibility not to “fan the flames of homophobia” after fierce by the UK’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, while across town Ruth Whippman writes:

You have to hand it to the Catholic Church.  It takes a certain level of chutzpah to come through arguably the most widespread global paedophile scandal in human history and its subsequent alleged cover-up, and still be dishing out moral guidance on ‘disordered sexual practices.’

With their continued endorsement of homophobia, the Catholic Church, in my opinion, is morally backward.

English: A photo of Cardinal George Pell I too...

Cardinal George Pell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cory Bernardi and the beast

LIBERAL Senator Cory Bernardi has suggested legalising same sex marriage would lead to demands for bestiality to also be sanctioned.

“It is another chip in the fabric of our social mores,” he said. ”The time has come to ask, when will it end? If we are prepared to redefine marriage … what is the next step?”

The above quote from Cory Bernardi leaves one shaking one’s head in dismay at the thoughts processes of some people.

Under normal circumstances, such statements can be ignored as the rantings of homophobic, bogan types. However, this ranting does indeed emanate from someone whom one should assume has at least a modest amount of intelligence.

Ironically, Joe Hockey subsequently called for, “a sensitive and measured parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage”.  Sorry Joe, your fellow Liberal Cory Bernardi has already spoken.

Apart from the fact that Bernardi’s statement is nothing more than homophobic blathering, there are excellent reasons why bestiality has zero to do with marriage equality.

And yes, I am attempting to treat this matter with due gravitas all the while battling my instinct to reply to Bernardi in a Shakespearean way: Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!

However, will Bernardi’s argument against gay marriage be taken up by certain right-wing shock jock types? Ans: it’s possible. Therefore, as per below:

MARRIAGE ACT 1961 – SECT 23B

Grounds on which marriages are void

(1) A marriage to which this Division applies that takes place after the commencement of section 13 of the Marriage Amendment Act 1985 is void where:

(iii) that party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony; or

(e) either of the parties is not of marriageable age;

Bernardi also suggests that gay marriage would have the consequence of leading to polygamy.

Why should it, as we have s(1)(a) of the Marriage Act which states that a marriage is void if “either of the parties is, at the time of the marriage, lawfully married to some other person”.

And so there we have it, that in order for Bernardi’s fantasy nightmare of bestiality and polygamy to come to pass it is the Marriage Act (Cth) 1961 which would have to be amended, and in such a way as to allow underage marriage, marriage without consent and bigamy.

In spite of the opinion of Cory Bernardi, marriage between consenting adults, irrespective of gender does not alter the basic integrity of the fundamental that two people who agree to unite, and who are prepared to take on the responsibilities and privileges of that agreement, should be permitted to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: Cory Bernardi quits. This would be one of the rare times that I would have to agree with Tony Abbott.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has resigned as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s personal parliamentary secretary following a widespread furore over the South Australian’s comments that legislating for gay marriage could lead to demands to legalise bestiality and polygamy.

In announcing Senator Bernardi’s resignation, Mr Abbott said his contribution to the same-sex marriage debate was unwelcome.

“They are views that I don’t share. They are views that many people will find repugnant,” Mr Abbott said.

In the year 2050

Tony Abbott has lamented that the introduction of the carbon tax has not been “absolutely catastrophic” but warned Australians they will be $5000 worse off by 2050 unless it is abolished. Because of that dastardly Julia Gillard the carbon tax will take $2.53 a week out of our pockets for the next 38 years, quipped Blogotariat.

So that’s the worse thing Abbott reckons can happen to us and our future generations over the next 38 years. I can live with that.

In 2050 Australia will probably be a good place. Thanks to a long-gone Prime Minister way back in 2012 we’ll awake to clear blue skies and we’ll have jobs to go to. Our economy will continue to be the envy of the world and our telecommunication systems have been modeled around the world, as have our green technologies.

There is no such thing as a minority group as Australia will be a country where all people are equal. Even our Indigenous brothers and sisters can walk down the street without being racially vilified.

Tertiary education is affordable and there are enough hospital beds to house the sick.

The image of Australia in 2050 paints a very attractive picture.

But I wonder what it’ll look like had Tony Abbott have been Prime Minister way back in 2012. Allow me to amuse myself with the following picture.

Those people lucky enough to have jobs – and there aren’t many of them – will don face masks before they leave for work. The streets will be empty; acid rain has been forecast.

Twenty people have been killed by the riot police in Melbourne’s shanty town.

The nation’s capital, Port Hedland, now has a population of four million.

Areas of Western Australia that were once sacred sites containing art work from a lost civilisation are now big holes in the ground.

Prime Minister Thomas Rinehart dismisses calls to end Australia’s ties to the monarchy.

Meanwhile, the war with Malaysia goes well. It’s also good for the economy and helps line the pockets of the billionaires.

The unemployment rate of 46% is steady.

Refugee boats are sank as soon as they enter Australian waters. Tony Abbott’s long ago promise to stop the boats has been a success.

The reintroduction of the assimilation policies have failed so Aborigines are again sent to reserves.

Gay marriage is illegal.

It’s now been 12 years since a fish has been caught in the Murray. The waters are too polluted to sustain life.

Plans are being drawn up to move the major coastal cities inland due to the rising tides. This should help employment.

Meanwhile the war with India goes well.

There is great excitement in the country after the Government announces the go-ahead of a National Broadband Network.

In the finance sectors, interest rates have dropped to 26% and the dollar is 35 cents against the Greenback.

A new university is planned for Port Hedland. The country will then have five universities.

Religious Instructions are compulsory in primary schools.

The skies are black, the riverways are murky and the beaches are sludge. Nothing grows.

The billionaires thank Tony Abbott for their lucky life. And for a white Australia.

Meanwhile, the war with Somalia goes well.

Gay marriage rights: 4 votes

No government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love. The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody ~ Rita Mae Brown, 1982

The above very simple quote, devoid of embellishment to me expresses how a very simple concept can be twisted and turned, until those debating the issue hardly know what is real in the argument, or what is speculation taken from the point of view of emotional aloofness.

My own personal feelings are exactly as the above quote, with the exception of some important issues contained in The Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).

The Mercury reports:

JUST four votes could determine whether Tasmania becomes the same-sex marriage centre of Australia.

With Labor and the Greens set to pass historic same-sex marriage legislation, the real battle will be held in the Upper House, with lobbying of those MPs beginning in earnest.

The Tasmanian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Mark Brown posed the question:  “Do we want Tasmania to be the gay marriage capital of Australia?”.

The obvious answer to Mr. Brown’s question is:  Yes we do and if not, then why not.

An alternate opinion, and one which is not based so-called moral grounds comes from Small Business Council executive Mr. Robert Mallett, who has stated: “..gay marriage could be a boost to tourism, saying modelling put the income figure at $100 million if Tasmania”.

The article also notes that there is still possibly dispute over whether the change is constitutionally possible, with a High Court challenge potentially launched if the legislation was passed.

As stated by NSW Labor MP John Murphy: “we should be doing everything to defeat a redefinition of marriage – so do the majority of people I represent. The Tasmanian law would be the thin end of the wedge.”

Mr. Murphy’s statement clearly refers to the definition of a marriage as introduced by the former Howard government as being between person of the opposite gender, however I prefer this definition as expressed by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Unfortunately, to date we are not receiving any leadership from PM Julia Gillard:  Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to be drawn about the possibility of a federal legal challenge.

This brings us back to my original quote that no government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love, and The Marriage Act (1961) Cth. For those interested in the full text, this can be found via Austlii.

Every Act is preceeded by something called “Interpretation”, a section where definitions of words and phrases are provided. This is all that John Howard did, where the word “marriage” is mentioned this now reads as: “marriage” means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Just one single sentence, no explanations, no reasons just a mere definition. The anguish and heartbreak that one brief sentence has caused to so many.

I hope that all involved will take heed of the words of Mr. Alex Greenwich, national convener of Australian Marriage Equality, who has said that: (Mr. Gray’s support) “..highlights the central role of mental health arguments in changing hearts and minds on marriage equality. This issue ultimately is about people not politics.”

“Research shows that denying marriage to same-sex couples only serves to increase stigma and a sense of social exclusion among gay and lesbian people, which has a direct negative impact on mental health.”

Marriage: it’s a ritual

There are issues which although they may not effect one personally, nor even effect one’s friends and family, that it becomes a matter of justice.  That which is right; in the name of equality.

HISTORY….

In 1959, Gladys Namagu was denied permission to marry her white fiancé, Mick Daly.  In response, the Menzies government promised that such discrimination would never be written into Australian marriage law.

The history of this travels back somewhat further into misconceptions as to the meaning of Terra Nullius.  Originally meaning a land which belonged to no one, it was later interpreted that the inhabitants of the land, our Aboriginal peoples were not human, a subspecies at best hence “no one”; nonentities.

Although there are many examples, and far too many for our white culture to come to terms with, where Aboriginal women were forced into sex, there were also many loving couples who were refused the right to marry, due solely because of the color of one’s skin.  In Queensland we had white/black unions forbidden, while in WA we had black/black unions forbidden.  The reasoning for the former was to maintain racial purity, whereas the reasoning for the latter was to “assimilate” black people so as to allow the race to die out naturally, by being gradually diluted.

In 2004, John Howard sought to overhaul the Marriage Act so that marriage could only be between a man and woman, and to stop courts recognising foreign gay unions.

Prior to this, the Marriage Act had evolved from customary law, the major change in modern times being the introduction of civil registrations in 1856.

That which motivated former Prime Minister Howard was that after extensive lobbying by the then powerful fundamentalist church lobby groups, that it was insisted that he, John Howard “shore up” the Marriage Act to ensure the exclusion of same sex couples, and to deny recognition in Australia of same sex couples who had married overseas.  Mr Howard sought this action in a move he said was to defend traditional families.

The Rev. Fred Nile was particularly vocal:

The federal government under John Howard recently introduced a bill to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to secure the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life,” Nile said. ”That was done deliberately because of threatened legal challenges. Three Australian same-sex couples, including one couple from Western Australia, had been to Canada to get marriage licences. They returned to Australia and announced their intention to seek legal recognition of their Canadian marriages from the Family Court of Australia.

These are major examples of senseless discrimination which have existed in Australia.

Forward to today, 18th June 2012: Churches lay down law on gay marriage

Church heavyweights have been spurred into action by the bills, with the heads of the Catholic, Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches issuing strong statements to their congregations yesterday urging them to oppose any move towards same-sex marriage.

I would ask these “church heavyweights” the question, Why.  Why do you oppose an item of contract law which has not been your sole jurisdiction since 1856?  Do you the church, believe that you have the right to say who one should love, and who one should not love?

You, the bishops and priests had the right to choose your vocation, and to marry or not to marry.  Gladys Namagu chose to love, but did not choose the colour of her skin.  Our dear gay and lesbian friends choose to love, and the gender of their loved one is but an incidental.

I hope, not just hope, but I pray to the angels that this last piece of discriminatory legislation will soon be overturned.  The heartache that this has caused defies description.

In 1958 Sir Robert Menzies vowed that discrimination would never be written into Australia’s marriage laws, but in 2004 John Howard did just that.

**For Lloyd, Paul, Joni and their partners, this one is for you.

And of course for Reb too.

Do Me A Favour…

Some of my opinions are often seen as straying a bit left of centre,  and on occasion I may put things across a little bluntly, but I rarely ask for anything more than an open mind.

So with that in mind, I have a favor to ask of the gay community.

Not really a favour, probably more of a suggestion, or bright idea, you may well say.

Although you may think this idea is strange, and a bit funny, I am as serious as a heart attack.

I would like the gay community to adopt the Southern Cross as a symbol.

The Southern Cross is an iconic symbol of our country, that has been hijacked by bogans and racists, much to the dismay of the rest of us.

I, for one, would like to see the Southern Cross being used as a symbol of love and unity, rather than a symbol of fear and hatred.

I’m not suggesting you go and get tattoo’s, but maybe some T Shirts, pink Southern Cross pict badges for profile pics, some signage in clubs and shop front windows, maybe even some Southern Cross decorated floats in the Mardi Gras parade, that should get some coverage.

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