Same – sex marriage is won. My hopes for the future

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Images: iStock

It’s happened. The Upper House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for legalising same – sex marriage on Thursday. There were celebrations and tears across the nation.

61.6% of eligible voters that decided to take part in the postal survey made the decision that people in same – sex relationships should be able to marry. This is quite an optimistic result. It has made me positive for the Australian LGBTQ+ community in the future.

 

Over seven million people believe people in same – sex relationships should be treated legally as those in opposite – sex relationships. They have the choice to make that commitment.

So, what does this mean for young people who are yet to recognise their sexuality or those who have been previously married (in a straight relationship), but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex? Will it easier to admit their same – sex attraction, without fear of retaliation from those who they care about?

The extremes of the ‘Yes’ campaign were right in one sense. This does go beyond marriage for same – sex couples. It should. Here me out and I’ll explain what I mean. My hope is that with this embrace of same – sex couples, that other members of the LGBTQ+ community waill also be embraced – that bisexual and asexual people will be believed and safe. That bisexual men are believed. That transgender, including non – binary people feel safe to come out and express their gender identity. I hope that intersex people will be granted the right to be autonomous and have a voice in what happens to their bodies medically, rather than being forced into having invasive surgeries without their informed consent.

I hope that schools become safer places for LGBTQ+ students and their families. I hope that anti – LGBTQ+ bullying will not be tolerated and that victims don’t have to doubt whether they should speak out in fear of further attacks or rejection from family, school staff, or peers.

I hope that asexual people will be acknowledged in school. I hope that when there is talk about sexuality, there is a separation between sexual and romantic orientation, allowing potentially asexual students the ability to experience their romantic attractions (if they have any), without the worry or confusion.

 

Even though the process was painful for many in the LGBTQ+ community, I hope the vote showed that many non – LGBTQ+ people are willing to treat us like people, not outrageous stereotypes or caricatures. I hope that this means that lesbians and bisexual women are not treated or viewed as a porn fantasy. I hope this means that gay and bi men aren’t negatively stereotyped and attacked because they are not “masculine” enough.

My guess is that over seven million people didn’t buy into the paranoia that gays were out to get kids, or to turn them gay, or that transgender people (especially transwomen) are predators. Like the general population, the vast majority aren’t!

 

So, here’s to love. Here’s to acceptance. And, most importantly, here’s to LGBTQ+ people being free to be who they are without fear.

 

 

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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.

A big call out to LGBTQ+ supporters

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In the eve of the same – sex marriage postal survey announcement, I want to give a shout out to all those who stood by and advocated on behalf of many LGBTQ+ Australians.

Thank you to those who have actively campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights: written to politicians; called them; and used your voice in the survey.

Thank you to the counsellors/ psychologists who dedicated much of the last few months listening to and supporting LGBTQ+ people who were distressed.

Thank you to those who comforted LGBTQ+ friends and family. It hasn’t been an easy process, (in fact, at times for many, it’s been downright hard!). Thank you to those who have offered a shoulder to cry on when needed.

Thank you to the religious leaders who have called for compassion toward the LGBTQ+ community and have aimed to build bridges between, what have been warring factions. Thank you to those who joined campaigns like Equal Voices, and called for healing and reconciliation between the Church and the LGBTQ+ community.

Thank you to older LGBTQ+ people. like Anthony. Venn – Brown and Magda Szubanski, who have offered their advice and advocacy to younger LGBTQ+ people. Also, thank you to other LGBTQ+ people who have been willing to be open about their own struggles, but pushing forward and fighting for what you want. You have been so brave and strong!

Finally, I’d like to thank media personalities for standing by us. Thanks to Mamamia founder Mia Freedman and other staff for being an endless advocate for LGBTQ+ people. Thank you for giving LGBTQ+ people and their families a voice. You don’t know how much that means to us.

Thank you to Sky News’ Paul Murray and Patricia Karvelas for also being outspoken supporters for same – sex marriage. Thank you also, for being, sadly the few, who have consistently called out and condemned abuses from both sides of the debate.

Who would you like to thank for supporting you or the LGBTQ+ community more broadly during this debate?

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.

 

 

We will rise: Episode of Gaycation offers LGBTQ+ people hope

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Despite fear about the win of Trump last year, the LGBTQ+ people and their allies’ unity was touching and something Australian LGBTQ+ people can take strength from.

I won’t lie, the last few months haven’t been easy for many in the Australian LGBTQ+ community. That includes me. I’ve been quite strong and have offered my own support to LGBTQ+ family and friends but on and off for the past couple of weeks, it’s finally got me. Old insecurities and worries about how others viewed me came back. And I’m not even in a same – sex relationship. I feel for those who are.

On Wednesday, I saw the end of a repeat of Gaycation: United We stand  on SBS Viceland. It was about the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. Many people were worried about the President’s Cabinet and their links with organisations and political parties that had been opposed to LGBTQ+ rights, including Vice President, Mike Pence, who was responsible for the Religion Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, which permitted businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of personal belief. (Apparently, he did backpedal in legalising discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, despite anger from conservatives). There was also worry about the rights of trans people and their ability to access medical care.

While the backdrop of the documentary was quite grim, the end of the documentary was surprisingly uplifting. It gave me hope for Australia in the postal vote process. I took strength from the fact that the LGBTQ+ community and allies were determined to stand together and not allow things to backslide to where they’d been in the past. They were not going to let those with homophobic or trans – phobic views win. Caucasian and people of colour were willing to stand together. They seemed to believe in the cause and their right to, not just exist, but live freely, love and express their gender that they saw fit.

It was heartening to see parents of LGBTQ+ people, including co – host Ian Daniel’s father, who were willing to stand by their children and fight for them. I truly think that these people don’t get enough credit. They are such a great source of love and strength. You have seen the same thing with the postal vote process. I’ve been heartened at the number of straight people; including parents and grandparents, who are willing to have their LGBTQ+ children’s and grandchildren’s back.  If you are a parent, friend, family member, educator, who’s been a shoulder for LGBTQ+ family or friends to cry on, on behalf of members of the LGBTQ+ community, can I just say, thank you. You’re love, support and contribution in our lives will never be forgotten. To LGBTQ+ people, please, give these people in your lives a massive hug! They deserve it.

Can I please implore Australian LGBTQ+ people to take heart. It will be OK. If we can stick together, we can get through this and more (if the US is anything to go by, this won’t be the last fight).

If we keep going, we will win this. We will gain the right to love, to be safe and express our gender authentically. To quote Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy: We Will Rise. To quote them again: “United we stand!”

The AFL has every right to support the LGBTQ+ community, including same – sex marriage

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Herald Sun’s acting media lawyer, Justin Quill has praised AFL’s corporate stance on same – sex marriage

I was going to criticise the AFL’s stance on same – sex marriage. My argument was that they shouldn’t it’s a hot – button issue and they may alienate spectators. Reading Justin Quill’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Herald Sun gave me a new perspective.

Companies DO have a right to express a view on social issues. As Quill pointed out, this is not the first time that the AFL has supported social causes. The AFL has had a reputation of trying to combat racism in the game, starting with former St. Kilda player, Nicky Winmar, who lifted up his Guernsey to defy racism back in 1993.

Now, the AFL has turned it’s attention to supporting LGBTQ+ people.

Over the past two years, the AFL has had the “Pride Round” between St. Kilda and the Sydney Swans. As I wrote last year in another one of my blogs, I supported this as I though it was good that the AFL were taking a stance against discrimination. I still hold that view.

While there are no openly gay or bi men in the AFL, there are two AFLW players in long – term same – sex relationships. It’s great that these women have gotten so much support, both from the media and the AFL.

 

Having said that, the AFL hasn’t been without controversy when it comes to homophobia, or at least, a lack of acceptance. In 2010, former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions player Jason Akermanis controversially suggested that gay players should stay in the closet to avoid making other players uncomfortable. Maybe Akermanis’ comment revealed that, at the time, the AFL wasn’t openly embracing of gay and bi players.  Last week on ABC’s The Drum, former footballer – turned LGBTQ advocate, Jason Ball highlighted how hard it was to be gay in football. This was largely due to the prevalence of homophobic slurs and jokes in the game.

Screenshot of Jason Ball on ABC's the Drum
Jason Ball talks about how hard it has been for gay footballers when talking about the AFL’s controversial change in their logo in support of same – sex marriage.

The AFL has worked to tackle racism in the AFL and now turns it’s attention to homophobia and bi – phobia. This is great, as players, regardless of background, religion or sexuality should be able to play the game they love.

Likewise, LGBTQ+ spectators, should be free from discrimination and any that does occur will be condemned. LGBTQ+ who want attend a AFL game should be able to without fear of having slurs hurled at them or worse. Same – sex couples should be able to attend and enjoy the football like any straight couple. To be honest, it’s a shame that this still seems to be a controversial idea.

Regarding the criticism that the AFL is trying to enforce same – sex marriage on  the spectators and players, Quill made the point that no same – sex marriage opponent was being thrown out because of their stance. If that was the case, it’d be wrong. What the AFL are trying to do is make LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and that discrimination won’t be tolerated. That’s not a bad thing. Is it?

What are your thoughts on the AFL’s stance on gay marriage or the Pride Round? Let me know in the comments below. 

Madeline should not have been let off for opposing same – sex marriage

18 – year – old, only known as Madeline, was let go from her contract at Capital Kids Parties, Canberra, after putting ‘It’s OK to Vote No’ filter on her Facebook profile.

Her contractor, Madlin Sims made a Facebook post saying that she let go of Madeline because she thought her views were “hate speech”.

There are feelings that there is more to this story, but I’ll go with purely the issue of unfair dismissal and anti – discrimination.

I don’t think people like Madeline should be let off purely because of their political or religious beliefs. And, as long as they are not advocating for the killing of LGBTQ+ people or they are openly hostile towards people because of sexuality, gender, race, etc, they shouldn’t be sacked/ lose their contract.

However, I’ve got a funny feeling that some people who defend Madeline also want businesses to be legally be able to discriminate against people based on their relationships, gender or sexuality. It should be all or nothing. Sims should be able to discrminate against conservative Christians, or it should be unlawful for a business or servicecto refuse to employ or serve LGBTQ+ people. All of one or the other.

 

There is something that I think has been left out of this discussion. Madeline is only eighteen. She’s probably just finished Year 12. She still needs time to grow and I do feel for her. She’s had her work and her beliefs scrutinised in the most public way. Her character has already been debated,bsparked by Sims’ Facebook post. Regardless of who you agree with in this, Madeline is still so young. She has her whole life ahead of her and she’s been subject to public scrutiny already. All over a Facebook filter. That to me, is extreme.

 

I feel for Madlin Sims, too. By the look at her Instagram picture, which supince has been taken down, apparentky,bshe’s also incredibly young. And the abuse she and her brother have allegedly suffered must be condemned. Why this hasn’t been talked about and condemned by mainstream and independent media, I don’t know. (You already know how I feel about the whole ‘debate’ and ommissions,bso Ivwon’t repeat them here).

 

Unfortunateky, I think this case has put a bad light on the ‘Yes’ side, again. It’s also exposed my worst feears about same – sex marriage; a values clash between the Left and conservatives that I believe needs to be sorted before (if) same – sex marriage becomes legal in Australia.

 

What are your thoughts on anti – discrimination laws? Should there be any exemptions on moral grounds?