Sunday, May 13, 2012

"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.

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