Sunday, May 27, 2012

One of These Kids Will Grow Up To Be Fabulous

I Cried Laughing

Last night my partner showed me the photo below which he had stumbled across on someone's facebook page. Without even reading the text I almost suffocated laughing. Once I read the text and looked at the faces of the boys to his left and right, I laughed even harder.

I think what I liked about this was the complete absence of any gay hate text and just a kid being embraced for who he is. I think I also see a little of myself, I'm not sure I was quite that "fabulous" when I was his age - but I probably felt it inside.

Won't it be a good day when we can just embrace people, especially kids, for who they are and not through what we expect them to be. If you know any kids like this little fella, let them know that when they grow up, they're also going to be fabulous.

The Gay Marriage Debate Continues

The Media Reporting Cycle

Over a few of my past blogs, I've shared my views on gay marriage and shared with you some of the letters I've written to my elected officials. It seems over the past twelve months, from my own observations, there is barley a news cycle go by that the gay marriage debate is not mentioned in some way or another.

We have a TV current affairs show in Australia called "ABC Australia - Q&A" (Google "QANDA ABC"). The shows tag line is "Adventures in Democracy". It's a great show and generally has a political bent to it, but not always. On Monday evening, May 14th, 2012 they had Penny Wong - Federal Minister for Finance & Deregulation on the show. She and her partner have recently had a child, however I should point out Ms Wong does not flaunt her sexuality to the media, in this instance, she's a private women.

Whenever she's on QandA there are tweets across the bottom of the screen "Wong for Primeminister". She's a very cool operator, decisive, clear when she speaks and certainly has an air of authority. The challenge came in the show recently where a question from the studio audience asked one of the other panellists, from the opposition party, how his wife and children seem to be more of a family than Minister Wong's. (See the youtube video below with an excerpt from the show)

You could see he was uncomfortable with the question, his response was the usual rhetoric that a child's best chance for success was by having a mother and a father, not two mummies or two daddies. I always feel bad for the single mothers in this debate, while never mentioned, they're quietly told that their family is also not ideal.

Amongst her response, Minister Wong said "I know what my family is worth". There could be no real additional comment to that statement and as timining would have it, that was the end of the show. The media picked up on that statement as did some enterprising individuals.

You can buy t-shirts on line with the statement and I imagine mugs, coasters etc within a short period of time. While our ability to love those whom we love and to possibly marry those whom we love is the desired state of some in the gay community, for others it doesn't seem to matter.

I think most of us want the same legal rights as heterosexual couples and especially the safeguards that come with that legal position for our children, the tag of "marriage" is perhaps not as eagerly sought after. The straight folks don't seem to have done so well with the institution of marriage, divorce rates, general levels of happiness etc. Are we sure that's what we want?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Letter to Australian Prime Minister - Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia

This morning as I sat at my local cafe, wearing my A&F hoodie and with a blue wool scarf wrapped around my neck because it was so cold, I decided to write an email to Prime Minister Gillard in relation to an article in today's Sun-Herald newspaper
For my readers outside Australia, Prime Minister (PM) Gillard is Australia's first female PM. She's living in a defacto relationship and has no children, she's a lawyer and politician. A common mix. That background will help in relation to my comments below.
Good Morning PM,
It seems Major General Angus Houston is far ahead of your government in his acceptance of the gay community. I'm at a point where I simply don't understand why you do and say the things you do. While I absolutely respect your opinion as a private citizen on the matter of same sex marriage, I absolutely don't support your view as my PM.

Your stand against me, my friends and those I love is nothing more than bigotry and a denial of what I believe is my right that you and the opposition seem adamant to enforce. If the ADF, the bastion of all things macho can, for the past 20 years, be accepting of the gay community, why on earth is it such a struggle for you.

The hypocrisy of your own living arrangements makes your stand even more of a joke. Let me be clear, I personally don't care who you live with and the circumstances under which you live - that's your right afforded by law. But, in part, to align your views with those of the conservative Church community while "living in sin" is unfathomable to me.

I'm not 100% clear on what moral ground you base your opinions about same sex marriage. The media tell us you're an atheist, that's cool. But any humanist view would typically be open to same sex marriage. But are you a humanist? I don't know!

You're now in a minority more aligned with leaders of backward African and Middle Eastern countries on the subject of same sex marriage. Please don't defend your position by espousing the changes to legislation that gave gay folks many of the rights as straight folk, personally I thought that legislation was a joke. It missed the key point of providing equality for all Australians.

Well, that's my thoughts for the day. Like so much of what your government has done, your stance seems to be about clinging to power and not being the leader of a great democracy where the citizens of this nation are heard and their voices are respected.


For US readers, you may enjoy this "tongue in cheek" editorial from one of Australia's journalists - Annabel Crabb. "Time we call came out of the closet" in response to President Obama's recent comments about gay marriage. 

"Familes are Families" - Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston: Australian Defence Force

This year marks 20 years since the Government of Australian Primeminister Keating lifted the ban on gays serving in th Australian Defence force. It's taken time for that change to become culturally accepted, but changes along the way have helped.

As head of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Major General Angus Houston said in 2005 "Familes are Familes". This opened the way for gay and straight defacto couples to become entitled to relocation funding, compensation and superannuation (401k). It's seems the ADF is far ahead of the current Gillard Government in recognizing gay couples and their rights. In today's Sun Herald newspaper there's a two page spread titled "Gays in the Military". Sounds like a play on words from the Little Britain skit "I'm the only gay in the village".

I have friends serving in the ADF, only straight that I know of. On occasion I've socialised with these guys and girls, they're outstanding people. I've always had a high level of respect for anyone who would volunteer to take up arms and potentially put their life on the line for their fellow countrymen and, it what seems the case in modern warfare, defend those who can't defend themselves i.e.Iraq, Afhganistan etc.

I describe this as an "inflated level of respect and even reverence". To give you an idea, did you ever watch the West Wing? In a few episodes President Bartlettt would have to make a phone call at the end of the episode to a family who's son or daughter had been killed in a military operation. I would be brought to tears as he went through that process, he afforded the deceased soldier, I thought, the greatest level of respect by making that phone call. Yeah I know, maybe I'm a sap, but it's more than simply liking men in uniform I assure you :-)

Second Class Citizens 

My partner and I have been together for three years, that's a long time in any relationship these days. I love my partner mor than words can express, he's my oxygen, I think of him every day, I love all aspects of who he is as a person. I'm lucky to have a family that are open to our relationship and care for him as I do. Mum (mom for you Yankee readers) has asked from time to time about marriage.

At this point I gently remind her that it's illegal in Australia for gays to be married. She suggests that a commitment ceremony would be nice. I'm adamant that I will not partipate in a ceremony that I believe reinforces my status as a second class citizen. Until I can be married to the man I love and I'm afforded the rights associated with that union from law, I won't do it. What do you think? I'm cool with other gay folk who want to do this, but it's not what I want to do.