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 allegedly retracted 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 what rights you should be granted 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 real,y 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. Takk to a family member or friend. Let them support you. If you think you need nore, seek out professional help. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Other people affected by the same – sex marriage debate you may not have thought of

pride heart shaped hands
Image: iStock

 

 

I’ve planned to do a few posts on same – sex marriage. And it’s also something that I thought of leaving behind. It’s taxing. It can be painful for LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones.

Same – sex/ marriage equality supporters argue that it’d affect gay and lesbians and them only. Well not quite. I want to list a few more groups that are rarely mentioned:

  • Homoromantic people – this includes homoromantic asexuals.
  • Bi – romantic people in same – sex relationships
  • Bisexual people in same – sex relationships (or who want to be)
  • Pansexual people in same – sex relationships (or want to be)
  • Pan – romantic people in same – sex relationships
  • Those who don’t identify as gay or bi, but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex
  • People in a queerplatonic relationship with someone of the same – sex, or people who want to be

 

The romantic orientations are what I want to talk about because this may affect members of the asexual community in Australia. This will (hopefully), frankly bust this obsession that some people have with equating same – sex relationships on sex and having that reason why they oppose same – sex marriage. For certain romantic asexuals, this affects them too.

Hopefully, changing the conversation in this way may get some heads out of the gutter. I am so sick of LGBTQ+ to being equated to sexual stereotypes or just outright lies about the LGBTQ+ community and every excuse why tbey shouldn’t be afforded same legal rights.

The list I’ve made above only makes up a small percentage of the population, but so what? I get so sick of that argument! That ‘small percentage’ of people may include someone in your family, friends, co – workers, etc.

That wasn’t the main aim of this post. My main point is, I think sometimes we keep revolving the marriage debate around sex. Sometimes, it literally has nothing to do with it. It IS about love and love only for some. Will this change the course of this ongoing debate? Probably not. But I do think it’s important.

 

Who have I missed? Who else is potentially affected by this debate? (WARNING: Any reference to bestiality or paedophilia will be removed and you may be banned from commenting on here again).

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.

Mia Freedman deserves a hug over same – sex marriage, not crucifixion

Media personality, Mia Freedman has come under fire if she tried to start a campaign #married4marriageequality on Twitter and on an article which she originally displayed her wedding ring (she deleted it in the following photo of the article).

Screenshot of article that sparked the controversial "married4marriageequality campaign by Mia Freedman
Mia Freedman comes under fire for standing for LGBTQ+ people and their right to marry with #married4marriageequaility campaign

This is ridiculous.

Freedman deserves a hug from the LGBTQ+ community, not crucifixion. She is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Has she been perfect? Of course not! No one has. But I think it’s unquestionable where her heart is on this issue.

It goes beyond the same – sex marriage issue, too. She, along with the other staff at Mamamia has been instrumental in LGBTQ+ advocacy and visibility, including asexuality visibility. The Mamamia website has also advocated for LGBTQ+ people being persecuted overseas, calling on the government to give them asylum.

So, LGBTQ+ people, don’t crucify Mia Freedman., She’s for us, not against. She was using her status as a married woman to fight for LGBTQ+ rights, not to push it in our faces. Straight people can support LGBTQ+ people, you know. I believe, at least at the moment, we need their support.

It’s not just her, either. It warms my heart to see straight people support LGBTQ+ rights. I love it when they speak out on our behalf. It’s when LGBTQ+ are deliberately left out or shouted down I get critical. Mia Freedman is not one of those people.

 

LGBTQ+ people need to be careful not to push out allies away. In fact, we need them if we want same – sex marriage here. Already, I’ve read comments and columns from people who have been scared off supporting same – sex marriage because of the overreaction from certain members of the LGBTQ+ community. We are really shooting ourselves in the foot for looking for a witch hunt all the time when it’s not needed. We should call out comments that harm the LGBTQ+ community or when someone makes grossly unfair comparisons (i.e. linking LGBTQ+ with bestiality and paedophilia), but this isn’t a battle to pick.

Mia Freedman should be embraced and applauded by the LGBTQ+ community. We should be grateful at the tireless campaigning she has done for us. We should applaud, that, unlike others, her support for us hasn’t wavered.

 

If you see Mia Freedman in Sydney, or where ever, if you can, give her a hug for fighting for us and the LGBTQ+ community around the world. Thank her for using her status as a media personality give a voice to those who are affected by issues like same – sex marriage. At the end of the day, like I said, we still need voices like hers to win the eventual fight for acceptance, and yes, marriage.

Sounds like plebiscite is about to take its final breath and the football of LGBTQ+ rights

Voting booth with 'no' sign through it
Images from Canva

It looks like the plebiscite on same – sex marriage is dead. Well, Liberal MPs including Warren Entsch and Tim Wilson and two others I can’t think of now, have sided with Labor and the Greens and pushing for a free vote in Parliament.
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(Video from 7 News Sydney, Facebook)

This is obviously going to create a backlash and a war in the party if indeed it does happen. I’ve got a funny feeling that there’ll be a push to kick Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after the 2019 election at the latest. That’s my prediction.

I just hate that this has all become a political game. And that’s what it is — a sick game. I don’t trust LNP or Labor to legalise same – sex marriage without strings attached. If Liberals legalise same – sex marriage, there will almost certainly be talks — or demands — that there be conscience – based exemptions. That’s became a dangerous slippery – slope in the U.S, with mental health professionals being exempt from anti – discrimination laws under “conscience” grounds. While laws and the Constitutions of Australia and the US may differ, make no mistake, this will be a battle that LGBTQ+ people will have to fight. I don’t doubt, either that trans people will be on the hit list as well.

This, and the surge in anti – LGBTQ hate crime have been the main reasons why I supported a plebiscite when I did. For me, both the physical safety and mental well – being of LGBTQ+ Australians is paramount. Legalising same – sex marriage doesn’t automatically guarantee that.

However, I’m changing my mind on the plebiscite because I see it as a delay tactic. I don’t think the LNP sold their case well. The well – being and struggles that LGBTQ+ people may face, in my opinion, wasn’t for the most part, adequately discussed. And when a person like music pioneer, Molly Meldrum dared to join the debate about Margaret Court, he was, I think he was unfairly jumped on (read the comments).

There are exceptions. Two people who have allowed LGBTQ+ to speak or voiced their concerns on their behalf are Sam Crosby and Andrew Bolt. I have admired how Bolt, even though he’s a sceptic of same – sex marriage, has voiced some of the views of LGBTQ+ people in his own life. He’s did it on Steve Price’s show not that long ago (last week?).

But it was the confrontation between Sam Crosby and journalist Nick Cater on Sky News Australia that got the most respect from me. The fact he gave LGBTQ+ a voice, I think is commendable.

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(Video: Sam Crosby Facebook page)

Like I said, it seems that the plebiscite is about to take it’s last breath. What will happen next will be anyone’s guess. Will a conscience vote happen or will PM Malcolm Turnbull shy away from that route, again? Only time will tell. They should just do something!

To Australian readers. Were/ are you in favour of a plebiscite on same – sex marriage? Are you critical of how any of the parties has dealt with it? Feel free to leave your comments below. 

 

 

LGBTQ+ people don’t need ‘allies’ like Eugene Peterson

Author and Presbyterian minister, Eugene Peterson caused a stir when he told Religion News Service that he’d happily perform weddings for a same – sex couple.

While he was praised by LGBTQ+ Christians, he received backlash.

When the news broke of his retraction, progressive Christians accused Peterson of retracting his statement to the RNS for financial gain.

Screen shot of Facebook - reaction of Eugene Peterson's retraction on gay marriage on Facebook
Eugene Peterson upsets progressive Christians retracting his earlier statements on same – sex marriage.

While progressive Christians accuse Peterson of retracting his statement for financial gain, I wonder whether it’s the other way around — whether he said he’d perform a same – sex wedding because he thought it’d actually increase his popularity and the popularity of The Message if he said he’d perform a same – sex wedding.

IBook copy of Eugene Peterson's The Message Bible
The Message Bible – a controversial paraphrase of the Bible

I just wish Peterson was honest from the start. Does he support same – sex marriage? Apparently not. Therefore, I don’t think he should have said that he’d be happy to perform a same – sex wedding.

Allies of convenience

In the heat of the same – sex marriage and the broader question of LGBTQ+ rights both here in Australia and the U.S, the Eugene Peterson and Christopher Pyne controversy over his comments on same – sex marriage have left me really annoyed, frankly. Neither of them should have said what they did. Why? Because they didn’t mean it… at least not strongly. I don’t think we need that, especially over something that is often quite sensitive to LGBTQ+ people.

Most LGBTQ+ are well aware of the conflict that many Christians have when it comes to LGBTQ+ issue and — from what I’ve read — don’t expect churches or religious ministers to perform same – sex weddings against their conscience. It’s (understandably), when the issue of secular businesses, services and celebrants becoming exempt from anti – discrimination laws that there’s a problem. I’m becoming increasingly sympathetic on LGBTQ+ people and advocates over that one, especially after laws have been introduced to make mental health professionals exempt from treating LGBTQ+ people except for emergencies. One thing that made me respect the medical and mental health industries was their stances on anti – discrimination. But… not sure what to think about this.

That aside, I think it’s fair to say that most LGBTQ+ or allies don’t expect Christian or any other religious leaders to go against their own will. This is what makes Peterson’s retraction so pathetic, frankly.

I truly believe that LGBTQ+ don’t need that. I believe that we need allies that are going to stick by us, even when a backlash is imminent. Of course, no one should put their lives in danger, but being an ally does carry a certain risk. There are people who have taken that risk, got backlash and stood their ground. To be fair on Peterson, he may have (or have had) genuine questions and may have had debates in his own head. Coming out, so to speak, and say what he did to Religion News Service probably wasn’t easy. But, to be honest, the fact that he backtracked so quickly gives me the impression that his heart wasn’t fully into supporting same – sex marriage to begin with.

What are your thoughts on people who retract support from things like same – sex marriage? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

Bring LGBTQ+ people and allies into the same – sex marriage debate!

I love watching Paul Murray Live, but to be honest, I’m sick of the whole line ‘if the plebiscite wasn’t voted down by Labor and the Greens, we’d have same – sex marriage/ marriage equality (depending which term they use) in Australia by now”. Even Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson jumped on that bandwagon last night. Host Paul Murray then parrots statistics by “The Essential Poll”, which suggests that 61% say that there should be a national vote and 60% want same – sex marriage to be legal. OK, The Guardian Isn’t a ‘right – wing’ publication, true, but can anyone tell me how many people were polled?

I am not a complete opponent of plebiscite and in an earlier post, I did say that Labor was guilty of treating the LGBTQ+ community like a political football. But here’s the thing, if a plebiscite was such a good — and harmless — option for the LGBTQ+ community, why was it sold so poorly? Why did a poll by PFLAG (however small), show a fall in support for a plebiscite when people were told (correctly), that it was legally non – binding? Why didn’t the Coalition ensure that the result would be respected?

People, like former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Peta Credlin kept saying that the government would respect the result, but why didn’t an MP say that? It’s easy for her and on Paul Murray Live and the like. How many of them have felt fear holding their partner’s/ spouse’s hand in public? I’m not sure many, if any have — at least not recently. How many times have they had their sexual orientation linked to paedophilia and bestiality? (you see that all the time on social media) and the whole “they’re luring young girls to parties and things” comments. Not to mention a lack of reporting  and commentary after an LGBTQ+ radio station in Melbourne was faced with a bomb threat last year. To be fair, Dee Madigan commented on it on Paul Murray Live and, Paul Murray did say that he was going to condemn it. But no comment from others — including those who constantly accuse the same – sex marriage supporters for mob attacks on same – sex marriage opponents (which, unfortunately do happen). I guess I should be fair and say that this year, commentators have picked up their game and condemned homophobia. There have been a few incidents that have been condemned and let’s hope it keeps on happening (the calling out, I mean).

Going back to the first point, I believe that LGBTQ+ need to be included in the debate, preferably without being screamed down. Seriously, why shouldn’t gay/ bi people like Molly Meldrum have a say about issues like gay marriage and the Margaret Court controversy if straight people are demanding the same? That’s what a ‘debate’ is — people expressing opposing views. Yet, we hear echo chambers of people mostly saying that the plebiscite should have happened. They can have that view, sure, but what about have a member of PFLAG or an LGBTQ+ add to the discussion and maybe expressing some worries that they have? Why not have a counsellor/ social worker, etc who works with LGBTQ+ people? (I’ve seen the ABC do that once). I’m not saying that people like Paul Murray, Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi or anyone else shouldn’t have a say. They can. But I think there is another side. There is concern on how it may have turned out, and I think they need to be heard as well. Because ultimately, LGBTQ+ people will be the ones affected by the result and, possibly, the process.

Gay couple just married
Image iStock

For Australians, do you think the same – sex marriage has been hijacked? Leave your thoughts below.