What the same – sex marriage result really means

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Images: iStock

The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to legalise same – sex marriage, forty – three to twelve affirmative. Plus 62.1% of people who took part in the postal vote also voted “Yes”. It’s going to happen.

So, what does that mean? I try and not be too mean about this, but, as I pointed out before, the ‘no’ campaign was a complete failure. Why? I think it was because they had no argument. They focused on Safe Schools. And through that, I truly believe that a lot of it was about painting LGBTQ+ people as sexual predators. The “slippery slope” arguments turned ridiculous and dangerous, with Senator Pauline Hanson saying that there needed to be a referendum to make sure child marriage doesn’t become legal (I’m not kidding).

Most Australians, including senators, obviously took a different approach. They realised that same – sex couples and LGBTQ+ people in general aren’t some sick conspiracy. Most people don’t link same – sex marriage to polygamy, or bestiality or child abuse. Many people, over 7 million Australians, were fair minded and thought about the debate through their own eyes (if they are LGBTQ+) or through the eyes of a friend or family member. The debate was, to many of those Australians, was about the future of their loved ones.

Over 7 million people didn’t think about schools teaching children how to masturbate. Most people who didn’t think that LGBTQ+ people were automatically linked to socialism (even though I do think the “Yes” campaign did become too closely aligned with Socialist Alliance and other far – Left organisations). The last ‘Coalition for Marriage’ advertisement was the most bizarre, making links between same – sex marriage and the Chinese Cultural Revololution of the seventies and eighties. LGBTQ+ people and same – sex marriage activists aren’t out to massacre anyone!

The biggest strength of the same – sex marriage debate (this time around), was that LGBTQ+ people were given a voice, particularly in the media. I think women’s site Mamamia did it the best, doing articles on people who are gay or in same – sex relationships (who may have been in an opposite – sex relationship before) and their families. This put a human face to the debate, taking away the conspiracy theories and paranoia about it. Founder, I think Mia Freedman has been a hero to the LGBTQ+ community over the years. I have so much respect for what she and the other writers and editorial staff.

Same – sex marriage opponents and skeptics haven’t been all bad either. While i think he’s been a scaremonger in the past, I applaud Newscorp’s Andrew Bolt for also giving LGBTQ+ people a voice, both on The Bolt Report, 2GB and on interviews he’s done, including on Christian show Think Again late last year. He has mentiojed his loved ones, including his sister, and their views.

Pic of Andrew Bolt last year being interviewed on
Andrew Bolt expressed regret on the strains on his relationships with LGBTQ+ friends and family over same – sex marriage.

Love didn’t win. Well, not just that. The humanity of the LGBTQ+ community did. The majority of the Senate and over 7 million Australians showed the LGBTQ+ community that they are viewed as people, worthy of the same legal rights as non – LGBTQ+ people and couples. My hope now is that there is healing in both mental well – being and relationships where there’s been damage.

As I’ve said before, I hope this is only the start — the start of LGBTQ+ people being fully accepted. The start of young people feeling safe admitting they are LGBTQ+ or are questioning their sexuality/ gender identity. The start of LGBTQ+ people being fully acknowledged in education, media and other institutional settings. And, I think the public and the Senate have taken the first step.

UPDATE: potential step back. According to The Guardian, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has caved in  to the conservatives in his party and guarantee anti – discrimination exemptions to charities and civil celebrants. Maybe that was always going to happen.

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Anti – discrimination exemptions: a slippery slope?

The issue of anti – discrimination is heating up in the same – sex marriage debate here in Australia. This week, Andrew Bolt interviewed owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who was sued for not making flower arrangemwnts for a same – sex wedding. From what I heard of the case, the case turned pretty callous, with Stutzman receiving death threats. That is horribly wrong. It’s disgusting and whoever sent threats to her should have the law book thrown at them.

Former florist Baronelle Stutzman on The Bolt Report
Former florist Baronelle Stutzman war s Australia that they face similar issues if same – sex marriage gets up here

I was sympathetic to cases like Stutzman. It was one of the reasons why I opposed same – sex marriage for a while.

However, what I worry about — and what Stutzman nor Bolt discussed, is what has happened since then, especially since Trump took office.

This has gone beyond caterers and florists. Last year, Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslain, signed a bill that allowed mental health workers to discriminate against LGBTQ+ clients for religious reasons.

A year earlier, a pediatrician in Michigan refused to treat a baby girl because she was being raised by a married lesbian couple.  Luckily another pediatrician was available.

Then, there was the whole “Bathroom Bill” debacle in North Carolina, which prohibited trans people to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Former ADF officer, Cate McGregor put it quite bluntly on ABC’s The Drum, saying that it was putting trans people at risk of violence.

 

If the issue on same – sex marriage exemptions stayed solely on that, I would be fine with it. i’ve read that even some LGBTQ+ people have rallied behind Stutzman. But what I’ve noted above concerns me.

There’s another issue, too; what if cases like the pediatrician happens in a rural area? Rural areas are always crying out for more GPs, nurses, etc, but they’re not always easy to come by. So what’s an LGBTQ+ person to do if the only doctor they have access to wants to discriminate against them because of who they are? What if an LGBTQ+ person needs mental health assistance and the only psychologist/ counsellor available doesn’t want to treat them because lf ‘conscience objection’?

This has gone beyond cakes and flowers and marriage. This is about whether LGBTQ+ people should be able to access services that they need.

I think there is a possibility that ‘religious’ or ‘conscientious objections’ loopholes in anti – discrimination laws (beyond religious leaders and celebrants) can be widened, widened and widened to the point where LGBTQ+ people, especially in rural areas, are denied essential services, leaving them vulnerable to poor health outcomes.

While I sympathise to a degree toward those who feel targeted, a part of me wants to tell objectors to suck it up. If you own a business, you serve the public. That includes LGBTQ+ couples. And LGBTQ+ people should NOT be refused essential services!

What to you think of the Baronelle Stutzman case? Do you think businesses should be able to refuse services to people, including for certain events (weddibg of a same – sex couple)? What do you think about health workers discriminating against LGBTQ+ people and their families? Should that be allowed?

Let me know what you think in the comments. Sorry for the amount of questions. Just so much I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on. You don’t have to answer all the questions.  Just please let mw know what you think.

 

 

The misreporting and omissions in the media on same – sex marriage need to stop

Sunday Herald Sun17 September2017
I think the media plays a role in what side of the same – sex marriage wins or loses.

The debate on same – sex marriage is still going on as the postal surveys are being sent out nationwide.

A win for the ‘Yes’ side is not guaranteed.

Yesterday in Sunday’s Herald Sun a study by ‘No’ campaigners predicted that there was a million vote swing against the ‘Yes’ vote. According to the stats, if that’s the case, the ‘Yes’ vote will still get up, but only just. Only a few hundred thousand less, then it’s gone.

Million vote swing claim in same - sex polls article Sunday Herald Sun
Story in ‘Sunday’s Herald Sun’ reports that poll estimates that there is up to a million vote swing to oppose same – sex marriage

If the ‘Yes’ side doesn’t get up, I’ll personally blame the media.

The liberal/ Left and conservative media have been pathetic during this campaign. Commentary, for the most part, have been deliberately skewed and extremely selective on what they are willing to report, condemn and support.

The earliest example of poor journalism (or in this case ‘interviewing’), that saw the demise of the ‘Yes’ campaign in my view, was The Project’s ‘interview’ with former tennis champion, Margaret Court.

This was the first of a number of extreme media biases that ended up painting the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters in a bad light.

More recently, ABC’s Insiders allegedly promoted Tim Minchin’s parody of Peter Allen’s I still call Australia home, titled I still call Australia home -o – phobic (look it up on YouTube if you want. I won’t post it here). While opit got some praise in the media and elsewhere, there was a fair bit of backlash on social media due to it’s crudeness.

On a more serious note, is the misreporting of incidents between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners. One example is Channel 9’s coverage of a standoff between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners in Brisbane, in which, a meeting attendee was falsely accused of deliberately using his car as a weapon to mow down ‘Yes’ campaigners, in which protester Jessica Payne — who Today Show interviewed. Andrew Bolt pointed out that Payne was not injured by the driver, but tripping on a gutter.

There was more misreporting by the media on another confrontation happened at a barbeque set by a group of ‘It’s OK to say no’ campaigners. Contrary to the media reports, it was members of  the ‘Yes’ side that was causing the trouble, not ‘No’ campaigners.

Talking about ‘No’ side causing trouble, I’ve been incredibly disappointed about the lack of reporting and condemnation when the shoe is on the other foot. I noticed this for the first time last year when bomb threats were made against Melbourne’s LGBT radio station, Joy 94.9FM. At the time, I looked up multiple Facebook and news sites. There was no article ddon Mamamia, nothing on The Project and, most disappointingly, Andrew Bolt did not mention itvat all, on his TV show, on radio, in the papers or his blog.

There have been other events that haven’t been reported or condemned, for example, a Greek Orthodox priest saying that gays should be shot on Fatger’s Day this year. Another, more frightening example happened in Dubbo, New South Wales where a man was arrested after he threatened a 14 – year – old girl after she posted her support for same – sex marriage. Plus, very few from the mainstream media is pointing out that Madeline’s former contractor, Madlin Sims,  has faced abuse over  the incident with Madeline.

Plus, I’ve also read that parents of LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ celebrities, like Magda Szubanski have been abused on social media. The abuse has been vile, including the false link that LGBTQ+ people are paedophiles. Author, Anthony Venn – Brown recently put his foot down and took to his Facebook page, warning that anyone who suggested a link between being LGBTQ+ and paedophilia were at risk of being permanently banned from his pages.

Screenshot of warning from author, Anthony Venn - Brown
Anthony Venn – Brown often takes criticism and insults on the chin, but has put his foot down when LGBTQ+ people are compared to paedophiles

 

So, from now on, can I make a plea to both sides of the media, please report factually. And please condemn ‘Yes’ supporters when it’s due and don’t ignore when it’s the ‘No’ side. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he wants respectful debate. A bit of accurate reporting and fair commentary might help.

Were the homophobic posters fake?

Yesterday, I criticised Andrew Bolt for not criticising homophobic posters allegedly plastered over Sydney and Melbourne. Well, today, he has commented on it — to raise doubts about the claim.

To be fair, he said that he wasn’t passing judgment, just a bit wary, which I get. Maybe I should have done the same thing?

I shouldn’t be so hard on him, should I?

 

For Sydney – ites and Melbournians, have you seen any of the alleged homophobic posters in either city?

Censorship isn’t the answer

Last night, Andrew Bolt and Daily Telegraph columnist, Caroline Marcus criticised Facebook for blocking a user after he posted on the upcoming postal plebiscite on same – sex marriage.

After pressure from the public, the page and post have been restored.

Defending Natural Marriage's restored Facebook page
Facebook bucked under pressure and restored ‘Defending Natural Marriage’ page
Restored page of Defending Natural Marriage
Facebook page and acciunt of its creator has been restored by Facebook after inquiry by Sky News (Australia)

This has sparked an angry response from some of The Bolt Report fans. In retaliation, some have said they’d retract their support for same – sex marriage,

Screenshot of FB conversation on 'The Bolt Report
Censorship and bullying tactics are driving people away from supporting same – sex marriage

 

The same – sex marriage debate hasn’t been easy for some members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Frankly, it’s made me cry at times, and I’m single and asexual. I can only imagine how it must be for some same – sex couples. To have your identity, your relationship and your rights debated is tough.

However, I don’t think silencing debate will help the LGBTQ+ community. To be frank, the actions of some have been appalling. From the disgraceful treatment of Margaret Court on The Project earlier this year, to the threats made against the Australian Christian Lobby (I’m not commenting on the current case that’s presently before the court), and more, the LGBTQ+ community and the same – sex marriage campaign in particular are bleeding supporters.

Please step back.

The past couple of weeks have been hard for many LGBTQ+ people. I get it. I really do. But the attacking of opponents, or even some supporters like Marcus, is just wrong. Stop it!

If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to cry. Journal. Scream,  if you need to. But don’t abuse people in real life or online. If you do say something in the heat of the moment, apologise.

If you think you are struggling too much, please, please reach out and seek help. Talk to a family member or friend. Let them support you. If you think you need more, seek out professional help. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Same – sex marriage affects people, maybe including people you care about

I watch Sky News Australia from Monday to Thursday. I have my regulars: The Bolt Report at 7 p.m. Paul Murray Live at 9 and Chris Kenny’s Head’s Up at 11 (although recently, I’ve only been watching the start).

Not surprisingly, their sick of the same – sex marriage debate. I get it. For them, it means nothing. Bolt, Murray and Kenny are straight and married. So are most (almost all) of the panellists they have.

But what about people they love?

Gay marriage image: rainbow coloured hands holding each other.
Image: Canva

To his credit, at least Andrew Bolt has acknowledged his LGBTQ+ friends and family during this debate. Last year, in an interview with Senior Pastor James Macpherson of Calvary Christian Church, Bolt admitted that he regretted the strain that the same – sex marriage debate had on his relationship with someone he’s close to. Recently, I have to say, on his shows, both on The Bolt Report and 2GB, he is often very cautious and keeps his loved ones in mind when talking about his view, even in his recent criticisms about the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and their data on same – sex parenting.

Pic of Andrew Bolt last year being interviewed on "Think Again" conference
Andrew Bolt expressed regret over the strain that the same – sex marriage debate has had on some of his loved ones

But while Chris Kenny and Paul Murray don’t oppose same – sex marriage, I get annoyed that they talk about the plebiscite as if it’s of no consequence to anyone. That’s how I view it, anyway. Yes, lives ARE affected. Whether you like to admit it or not, some LGBTQ+ people do see this as a personal attack on their rights to live authentically.

 

I’ve written before about the need for more voices from the LGBTQ+ community and those who care for them or work with them (i.e. in mental health), into the debate. Not that I’m knocking people, especially Paul Murray for his stance, not just on this, but other issues as well, such as the alleged bomb scare at Melbourne’s Joy 94.9 last year. His regular panellist, Graham Richardson defended Alan Joyce after he was publicly criticised by tennis champion, Margaret Court. I’m not knocking these guys. I’m really not. But while we should value them as an LGBTQ+ ally, I don’t think it’s the same as letting an LGBTQ+ person being able to openly talk about their own experiences; why the issue means so much to them.

 

Mamamia has done this. Angie Green wrote a passionate open letter expressing why same – sex marriage was important to her, and it was her brother. Why can’t we hear more about relatives of LGBTQ+ people about how they feel about same – sex marriage?

The reason why I bring this up is because, for some, this is not a ‘non – issue’. This is about people’s lives. It is about safety and for certain members of the community to live authentically, without fear. It is about being legally recognised as married, but also, I believe a social affirmation that LGBTQ+ have freedom of expression and can do things like hold their partner’s hand in public. That is a separate issue, and it won’t be automatically granted if (when) same – sex marriage is legalised. But that’ll be another crucial step to acceptance.

We need to stand against antisemitism

Animation of Jewish synagogue
Image: Canva

The local council of Bondi, Sydney, has prevented a Jewish synagogue being built due to the threat of Islamic extremism. The Land and Environment Court has agreed with this decision.

This has understandably outraged the Australian Jewish community and non – Jews alike. And it shouldn’t be tolerated. Anti – Semitism needs to be condemned. Period. If the Australian Jewish community are in any danger, the answer is not to punish the Jews by not allowing them to have a house of worship. The answer is to crack down on anti – Semites — that includes some Muslims.

 

We should all know the danger of antisemitism if we have learnt anything about the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930’s and the Holocaust. This is why I feel so strongly against this. Andrew Bolt is right on this. The Bondi Council and the Land and Environment Court are letting Islamic extremists win. It’s also letting antisemites win. Why can’t they be protected? What’s more, why is antisemitism becoming OK… again?

Anyone who threatens the Jewish community, or makes any indication that they shouldn’t be safe needs the book thrown at them. The only fitting punishment for extreme cases, such as threats is jail. For a long time.

It goes beyond that, though. Antisemitism needs to become unacceptable in society, just like racism, sexism and even homophobia are starting to be. If you see any antisemitic speech on social media, I’d say report it. Or, at the least, (if safe to do so), confront the person who’s made the comment. Don’t allow yourself to be antisemitic either.

From what I understand about World War II, the Nazis thrived on antisemitic propaganda that went unchallenged. People in the media who tried to bring to light what was going on were punished. Many Germans didn’t know the horror of the Holocaust until it was too late. This can’t happen again. Good on both Joe Hildebrand and Andrew Bolt for bringing this to light. I offer a plea to all other journalists in Australia, please, please, please call out antisemitism when you find out about it. And good on the caller to 2GB that brought it to Steve Price’s and Andrew Bolt’s attention last night.

\To all the Jews, both in Australia and abroad, I am so sorry what you’re going through. I’m sorry if some of you feel that history is repeating itself again. I sincerely hope it won’t. I think if people like Bolt, Hildebrand,  Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi, or even myself can call it out and demand that we won’t be silenced, then, hopefully, it’s something.