AFL Player comes out

I was given another ‘hot’ lead last night, from a very reliable source of course, that we will hear from an AFL player this week who has chosen to declare his homosexuality. The headlines on the daily papers will blast “Insert Name Here comes out” “Football fraternity tickled pink” or something equally as riveting and insulting.

I want to pen a note to that football player, or indeed, those football players.  A few of them might just need to do it together if they are to survive the insane media onslaught that will come. This is not just the mainstream media – there are some rainbow coloured seagulls circling this issue like its a bag of hot chips left unattended.  These are people I know, part of the LGBT media who love to jump on a story that we can legitimately claim. Then there will be the unnecessary and potentially damaging media circus, where this person will be the talking head within the sport for every issue that pertains to the community. Thats too much pressure for one person.

I’d love a tenner for every time I have hard that an AFL player is on the cusp – this is my third very reliable source in the past month. Rumour has abounded since someone first strapped on a pair of boots. As old as our game is, so are the rumours.

 

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The note reads: 

Dear (insert name here).  The step you have taken today is both brave and courageous and, at the same time, maybe foolhardy.  There are few things in football left to be the first at, and today you have claimed one of the last seats on the pew of AFL firsts. You have shown that you trust yourself, and your playing fraternity to manage this situation with respect. I congratulate that trust.

I want to apologise in advance for the behaviour of both the mainstream media and the LGBT community, among the many people who will offend you during the next few weeks and months. The mainstream media will pry into your past and ask why you dated this woman, or brought that young lady to the Brownlow. And then they’ll ask who the beau will be on your arm at this years medal count.

They will ask inappropriate questions, and although they mean well, there is no doubt they will cock something up.  Not all of them will – some will think they are being respectful and helping you declare your honesty, but, rest assured, they will cock up.  Some ratbag on commercial radio will say something so insensitively stupid, and you will feel hurt after that – it will pass. You will be okay.

Our own community will try and gobble you up in so many ways that you won’t know which way to turn.  They are ruthless.  I look back to when Daniel Kowalski, Matthew Mitcham, Ian Thorpe and Magda Szubanski came out.  My media and my community were so desperate to have a scoop, and are so ravenously searching for relevance, that they will be more insensitive than most. Many lack integrity or journalistic ethics, regardless of how self important they seem. Please rest assured that it is more about them than you. And not be scared to say no.

Surround yourself with good people. People who you trust and respect – who will have your back, who will shield you and protect from those most ravenous. Chat with a gay friend or family member – we all have one somewhere.  They can be the most important ally you can have.

Don’t read the newspapers for a few days Thankfully, the news cycle is very short and there will be someone else on the front page tomorrow. Be patient – it will pass and life becomes all rather normal very quickly. Talk to others about your mental health – humans are fragile and sometimes when we expect we will be most resilient, we are not.

Always, always remember what you have achieved – before the public demanded to know of your most intimate life.  Thousands of young men and women dream every year of making it to the big stage and many of them don’t.  Be proud – not of your sexuality but of who you are and what you have done to date. You did make it, you earned your spot in the AFL probably under more difficult circumstances than others.

Be private as much as possible. Your personal life will be under scrutiny and media from all corners will try and undermine that. There are ways to maintain privacy when it comes to your sex life.. be guarded. Be wary of star fuckers.. there lurk behind every grinder profile or offer of a drink at the bar.  There are plenty who will want your name written in to the notch on their bedpost – you will become just another conquest and offer some bragging rites. They are like vultures waiting for an animal to die so they can start on the process of devouring the carcass. Trust your instincts,

Finally, be proud. Applaud your bravery and courage but also respect your own integrity.  What is to come is going to be difficult for a short while.  In the end, who you love and how you love them is a matter that belongs entirely, selflessly and ferociously your own.  Now is the time to guard that more than ever.

Sincerely,

Pete

 

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This is what Marriage Equality really means.

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I have been thinking about what Marriage Equality will mean when it happens in Australia – maybe this year, maybe next. I know people understand that its a great step forward for human rights, but to those of you who are not lesbian, gay bi or trans, I would love you to know what it means – on a deep, visceral level – to us. What it will mean to us, not just in our lives but also in our minds, our hearts and our souls.

Lets start with what it means on a psychological level. You need to understand what it was like growing up knowing you were different, and the trauma that was endured in school, in the playground, in the street and at home. If, like me, you suffered considerable bullying, taunts and teasing from a young age, where people would point a finger, laugh at your voice, beat you up, make fun of the way you walked or ran or throw food at you on a bus to footy training when you were trying so desperately to fit in and be normal, then you know the pain. That pain was vile, it was deep and it went right to the very heart of who you were.

Where little remarks made in the house that were barely heard by anyone else, cut deeply and critically in to your heart. They stayed there too, and those in your family that made them, had absolutely no idea. They didn’t understand that what they said was hurtful, how it stung you. This was from people who suspected who you were before you knew or understood who you were.

There was one hateful thing after another as you grew up; terrified of puberty, terrified of being around others for fear that you might be found out, terrified of making a close bond with a member of the same gender for fear that you would develop a crush or fall in love. It was so much easier to hang around with the others where that danger was far less likely, and where you felt like less of a freak.

While you were holding hands with a girl or boy of the opposite sex, sneaking a pash near the bike racks, the shelter sheds or anywhere you might have found some space, going on dates and hanging out after school at the shops, we were alone, at home, crying, hurting and feeling alone, left out and shunned. We were not sure why, but we were. We tried to play the game, lied to you and ourselves, but always wary that the feelings we had were going to accidentally get out. We were terrified and we closed down, adopting a mask that we could wear when we were among friends. In doing this we were inadvertently hurting other people by pretending to be like you, pretending to want to go out with someone, just to be like you. You made us feel that very acutely.

And there was the constant and probably the most awful hurt when we did develop a crush, fall in love and yearn to be able to tell someone, anyone, that we understood what love was, that we had felt it and we had to bury it. The deep and powerful longing to touch that person, in any way, the desire to be always near them, but never too close! That was one of the most awful things we went through.  We were in pain from being in love when it was supposed to be the most joyful and exciting thing that we would ever know. It was nothing but pure, unending torture.

On a spiritual level, especially for those of you who believe or have a faith – you never had to think about whether your faith and your god accepted you. You didn’t have to think about lying all of the time in the church and what that meant to you inside to always be dishonest. You didn’t have to panic that somehow, your god knew and was punishing you in other ways – with pimples, with weight, with always coming second in the swimming race, with always having to live up to a brother or sister who did things better than you. Thats how we felt – we were being punished by our god, if we had one. We didn’t understand that the verses and readings we heard in the church, the synagogue or the temple were meant for us – they were meant for the other members of the congregation who didn’t have this filthy secret. How could our god love us when it seemed nobody else did.

Physically, you are lucky if you were never made to constantly doubt yourself or feel incredibly ugly to the point you still live in fear of being seen as ugly – because you felt that those feelings inside that you couldn’t speak of, that manifested themselves in other ways. That you were afraid to exercise or play sport because of the way you walked, ran, threw, hit or kicked. This meant that other things became your solace, and for so many, it was food. There, in the corner with some food, we could hide and feel good for a little while and nobody would taunt us. That way you could taunt us about our weight and not who we were inside.

Then there were our minds – and how your stinging verbal barbs played with our minds. The many times we thought about how disappointed our parents, our siblings, our friends and our peer groups would be if we admitted to our difference. It was sometimes very dark and we thought about making the darkness permanent. There are many who still do because of that fear. There was the lack of intimacy in our lives because we closed ourselves off. We were your best friends, no doubt about that, but we were the loneliest people you knew. We were always the person you wanted at a party, because we would come in our mask – as the joker, the entertainer, the fun one who isn’t interested in hooking up with anyone there, so we become the clown. Behind those masks were rivers of tears that we had to shed alone and quietly.

AIDS terrified us and the nasty things that it made you say. You couldn’t share a cup or hold the hand of someone you assumed was gay because you would catch it and die. It was the gay disease and if there was as much as a whiff of something different about anyone, they were a poofter, a lezzo, a faggot, a dyke, a pansy. You weren’t going to put yourself at risk of death by being nice.

We deserved to be loved because we knew your secrets, we held your trust, you respected the fact that when you told us something, it would stay with us. We knew what it would be like if your secrets came out, because ours were bigger, darker and so much scarier. We became the person you came to because you needed to offload emotionally, knowing we could never do the same. Not only were we carrying our own baggage, but we were stowing yours as well.

So what does marriage equality mean, when it happens? It means that we are the same, equal, on par with you. It means we don’t have to feel different any more. It means that you can’t tease and taunt us because of our secret, because we are like you, it doesn’t have to be a secret any more. It means that kids everywhere will feel a part of something – something so enormous and something so terribly normal that everyone is doing it. It means that we no longer have to hide how we feel and kids no longer have to fear being different. Watch the suicide rates fall – in young men, in youth and especially in regional areas.

It means that we don’t have to put up with your bullshit anymore. You aren’t superior to us because your normal is no longer different to ours. We all deserve to be loved and to love in return. We all need intimacy and physical comfort. We all need sex. And we all need to feel we are not shunned because of those needs. Having full equality means we are the same as you and we can aspire to fall in love and get married, just like you.

Marriage Equality is a lot more than a rainbow patch on your profile picture. We know now that you love and accept us, we know now that you didn’t mean to be cruel, hateful and hurt us. Some of you will never get past that teenage stuff because you haven’t matured. We wont judge you for that and we will still be your friends, but it is you now who needs us to support you.

Reach out to those you know and tell them you understand what marriage equality means. That you get how horrible it must have been as a child, as a teenager, to endure that emotional loneliness. It’s more than a pride sticker on your profile. Go and march in a rally to show your support rather than talking about it how good it will be when it happens. Track down someone you went to school with and say sorry, that now you understand a little better what being equal means. Reach out to your child, your sibling, your relative or someone else you knew and say sorry. It could be the most powerful two words you ever utter – ‘I’m sorry!’ That’s what marriage equality means. It’s not about a big, fabulous wedding event and a boost to the economy.

Its not about politics or religion – its about humanity and finally being loved as an equal, without having to hide, to think of other ways to introduce your partner or to scurry from the room when aging aunts talk of marriage and children. Those around you who are gay or lesbian or bi or queer or trans or different are still here because of their strength, their tenacity and their faith in themselves. They have made a life for themselves, etched out a space and found their niche not in spite of you but because of you. You are more than lucky to have them in your life.

For some of you, marriage equality wont change the deep seated homophobia and hatred you feel – and that’s more about you now. That’s your arrogance, narcissism, ignorance or perhaps your fear that you are not as straight as you might like others to think. That’s your baggage now and we are no longer going to carry it for you. Its time you did the heavy lifting.

Marriage Equality means all of these things and so much more. When you say you stand for what is right and good and loving, then this is what you stand for. We know, we feel it in our heart when your honesty is evident. This is what Marriage Equality means to us.

Scott Morrison – I don’t know how you made it through puberty

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Dear Scott Morrison

I have just read your letter to one of your constituents who felt compelled to write to you about marriage equality. To say I was horrified to read your heartless response to someone who took the time to write to you, is most probably the understatement of the year.

Your response has probably broken the spirit of your correspondent, and the fact that you couldn’t address your response to that person by name tells me a bit more about you.

I don’t know how you made it through puberty without suffocating in that ignorance and bigotry that you clearly hold so close.

Lets have a look at your response and break it down a bit.

http://www.samesame.com.au/news/12072/Scott-Morrison-Why-I-oppose-same-sex-marriage

Dear Fellow Australian, Would it have hurt you to address the person who found the time and energy to sit and write to you in the first place? Would that have cost anything? No, but it seems courtesy isn’t your strong point.

You will also note in these statements that I also support the view that no Australian should have to pay a dollar more in tax or receive a dollar less in benefits or superannuation because of their sexual preference. During the last parliament laws were passed to give effect to this objective with the support of both major parties. 

Clearly you are so busy trying to dismantle our welfare system, or patting Peter Dutton on the back for continuing the cruel and dehumanising treatment of genuine asylum seekers and refugees, that you have failed to grasp the very simple concept that sexuality is not a preference.  I am sure you didn’t choose to be straight no more than same sex attracted people chose to be gay or lesbian.  I am not sure I can speak for all gay and lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex or queer folk when I say this but I am confident in the fact that some of us wouldn’t choose to be who we are if we had a choice. Why would people choose to be gay in Australia when your government treats us as second class?  So many of us have embraced our sexuality, and live full and committed lives paying taxes to keep you in blue ties and brylcream, and shock of all shocks Mr Morrison, many of us raise children.  Yes, children, and the plagues and pestilence have not yet come to our shores because of this.

The fundamental reason for my position was well summarised by our former Prime Minister, Hon John Howard AC, who stated when legislating the current definition “marriage, as we understand it in our society, is about children, raising them, providing for the survival of the species, and I think if the same status is given in our society to gay unions as are given to traditional marriage we will weaken that bedrock institution.”

Hmm – again I think you need to pick up a book that wasn’t written before 1950 and catch up a bit. Marriage, as it is understood in many societies and cultures, is about love.  We don’t get married to have children – children are the product of heterosexual intercourse.  There is no requirement to be married to have children – that thought process is subscribed to by those that think the world is flat. Perhaps you need to pick your knuckles up from dragging on the ground a little bit and have a read of a census or something out of the bureau of statistics.  Shock horror again Mr Morrison, but there are many children born each day out of wedlock.

Your marriage will not be weakened by affording the dignity of marriage to all Australians.  That is nonsense and there is not one piece of evidence globally, written by a person of science rather than the cloth, that would support this claim at all.  Nada, none, nil.

For me this is ultimately about a child’s natural right to a mother and father. I believe that this right should be protected in all Commonwealth laws, especially the Marriage Act. I am extremely disappointed by the recent decision of the NSW Parliament to legalise same sex adoption. However, I do not consider this error should be compounded by our federal parliament.

Please explain to me Scott, if you would, the significant abuse of women and children by men, fathers, stepfathers, mothers and stepmothers, foster parents, and others. You see, some of the children who do have a mother and a father in your old school view of the world, are in homes where they are abused – physically, mentally, emotionally, and most horrifying, sexually. This happens Scott and its not the children of same sex parents that are suffering through this mostly, but the children of heterosexual parents. Think about that for just a little bit and for a novel thought, perhaps have a look at a piece of evidence or two.

Family is the most important institution in our society. Religions and cultures over centuries have held that family is optimally based on the union of a man and woman. I do not believe that tested wisdom over centuries has been overwhelmed by more contemporary arguments.

I think this is the ignorant thinking that irks me most.  Religions and culture over the centuries thought the world was flat, that women could be exchanged for money or livestock to be the chattels of men, children could be forced in to arranged marriages and alarmingly, still are. Cultures and religions, Mr Morrison have said that you can’t wear two different fabrics, eat prawns, munch on a tasty bit of bacon or indeed, farm some land with two different crops.  I am sure you know the bible better than I do as a godless heathen fudge packer, but let me remind you anyway that most of the above offences against god could be punished by death, stoning, whipping and other similar punishments.

I acknowledge that in today’s society too many heterosexual marriages relationships fail. Family breakdown is a primary cause of poverty, disadvantage, mental illness and related conditions in our society today. The biggest victims of marriage failure and family breakdown are children. The social and economic costs of family breakdown are incalculable. This is a genuine national tragedy, not an argument for same sex marriage.

Hmm – is there was ever an argument that was uniformed or moot, this would be it.  Marriage is abused on a daily basis – people manage to stay married for hours, weeks, even a few months, and some stay together for years.  Sexuality has nothing to do with that.  More shock for you – some of those broken marriages where children have a mother and father is because those people who tried to suppress their sexuality by marrying and having children, can no longer face the pain and anguish, the torture anxiety created by having to suppress their sexuality because of the ignorance of elected officials like you.

A few other points Mr Morrison – our children in particular have one mother and three fathers – one biological mum, one biological dad and two step dads – and therefore have twice the amount of love to be showered with, attention, wisdom, knowledge and guidance – but I guess in your world thats too much now?

I also would like to point out that same sex attracted children are born to straight people 100% of the time. Think about it … go on…. got it?

Now also ponder that outmoded views like yours mean that a young person or indeed someone in their 60’s might consider that they are less than valued because of who they are. Imagine a life lived where the very core of your expression – sex and love – is denied because of societal pressure to conform.  Imagine never being able to tell someone you love them because in a society where the dignity of marriage is denied to some people, they cannot be who they are.

In May this year Ireland is likely to enshrine marriage equality into law and the remaining 14 states of the US will see marriage equality protected under federal law. This will leave Australia as the ONLY primarily english speaking nation not to have marriage equality in law.

So while I appreciate your lack of forethought, compassion or decency – there is no place for you to force your outdated and outmoded philosophy on hard working, scent Australians.

To deny the same legal protection to all Australians is inhumane, it breaches the very core of a decent society and it is further evidence of how Australia is sliding away from being a progressive society to a place where I don’t want to live.

Yours,

Pete Dillon

Sexual Abuse, George Pell and Suicide.

I am sitting in my home office working today, and listening to an interesting discussion on radio about suicide, and the darkness and despair that so many find themselves in before they take their lives.

It’s interesting to me because on the same day, Cardinal George Pell is appearing before the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. There is a link here – stick with me.

When I first started agitating for this Royal Commission, and telling my story of sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest from the age of 8, I had Pell in my sights.  I had waited more than 22 years to speak about what happened to me and how my childhood, my teen years and a great deal of trust were damaged, in some senses beyond repair, because of what I survived. I wanted Pell to sit down in front of the thousands of survivors and victims, and their families, and state that they accepted responsibility.  Pell was, at the time, The Archbishop of Melbourne, and another man who has refused to appear before the Royal Commission- Ronald Mulkearns, was the Bishop of Ballarat.  I blamed them, I still do.

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I had contemplated suicide a couple of times in my life…  especially when I knew I was hurting people.  I was not trying to hurt people, it almost seemed like I was doing it to keep them from being too close, while at the same time, I was desperate for someone to just love me for who I was. I had so much hurt, so much darkness, and I felt I had to still play my role as a clown. That was always my role in my world – not everyone else’s but certainly mine.  I had to put on a brave face and remain the joker.  But behind all of this, was a very sad, damaged and hurt little boy.

So its interesting listening to this discussion on ABC Local Radio – trying to work out the feelings I have, while the twitterverse is alive with comment about Cardinal Pell and the ignorance, or lack of empathy being show to these who were affected by the abuse from those in power inside the Catholic Church.

I want to tell my story – I want to shout it from the rooftops that my life was affected so greatly, by those that my parents invested their faith in. When I was eight years old, the sexual abuse started, and continued for about 18 months, when it stopped as suddenly as it started. My suicidal thoughts were not just directed at my own turmoil, but I wondered about who was the next victim that this priest chose, and what could I have done to change that. Was my inability to speak about it the cause of someone else suffering similar torment and abuse?

When I found a therapist who helped me navigate the darkness I was so lucky.  He steered me away from the path of damage I was on… and I started to live.  From the age of 29 when I was able to admit to my sexuality, I allowed myself a bit of forgiveness. I also started to address the guilt and shame that I felt.

I think, in the long run, I am going to be okay.  I have a partner and stepchildren who keep a light on in my life that won’t be extinguished.  My family are amazing, my work colleagues care for me, my friends are incredible in their support.  I think often about those who did not survive the abuse or what followed, and the questions that their families must have answered Royal Commission. I hope that they can find what they need to help prevent more suicides by survivors and victims of sexual abuse who have not had the good fortune and support that I have.

Please, if you are feeling alone, in dark place or are despairing, ask for help.  Speak with someone. Call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Sane Australia on 1800 187 263

Its Time, surely, Its Time

On the 19th of September, 2012, I sat and wrote emails to the 24 members of the Labor Party who voted against marriage equality in the House of Representatives in Australia.  Each letter was almost the same, except I made sure I knew the names of the spouse or partner of each of those politicians.  This is what I wrote – this particular letter was to Deputy PM, Wayne Swan:

Dear Wayne

Today you decided that your love for Kim is more important, better and perhaps stronger than my love for my partner, Nathan.

Today you made it harder for us to tell our kids why their Mum’s relationship is more important than their Dad’s.

Today your vote made it clear that Nathan and I remain second-class citizens and are not deserving of equality under the law.  It seems our love does not matter to you.

Today, you had the opportunity, the power to make a decision to effect change that is supported by a majority of Australians and to do your job to represent the will of the majority.

 Today, you were on the wrong side of history.

Today, I have decided that I no longer have faith in our democracy, that I don’t want to support a government who treats my life and my relationship with contempt.

This vote around equality in marriage is not about religion. This vote is not about parenting because those of us who want to raise children (as we do) don’t need to be married like many other Australians who have children and are not married.

This vote is an issue of democracy, human rights and equality under the law.

I hope that when you go home to Kim and your family that you can explain to them and your friends why our love is not equal.  I hope that when you go to bed, your conscience allows you to sleep.

Because I won’t sleep. I can’t explain to my 8 siblings and their collective 20 children, and ten grandchildren why my love for my partner is different and not deserving of the choice to marry.  I can’t explain to friends why our democracy has failed us. I cant live with the fact that I am and will remain, because of you, a second-class citizen.

I remain confident that one day my government will see that this simple piece of legislation is easy, as it will be in New Zealand, The United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and South Africa. I remain hopeful that future leaders will see that there is no different type of love.  That there is just love.

I wish that you had been strong enough to make that decision today.

 

Today I am going to write to them again, because we have woken to news that the House of Commons in the United Kingdom have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality. The vote will now go to the House of Lords, and may not see the same majority, but given this legislation has been put by the Conservative Tory party, and supported by Labor and the Liberal Democrats, in a free vote, it is most likely that it will pass.

There are countries across the world who already have voted in favour of equality. Catholic dominated countries like Spain and Argentina both have marriage for all of their citizens. Protestant Netherlands has marriage equality. Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, Canada, some parts of Brazil and Mexico, Norway and now 10 of the United States all recognise equal marriage.  It is most likely that France will pass it in the coming weeks, and New Zealand will also enshrine equality into law. We have seen in the US that Barack Obama not only supports marriage for all of his constituents, but is the first ever President to say and most likely do something about it.

But in Australia, oh no! Not with our atheist Prime Minister who believes in the traditional tenets of marriage as a sacrament – the same Prime Minister who lives in a defacto relationship and whose partner is afforded all of the benefits of a married partner – because they are heterosexual.  Not with the leader of the opposition who seems so threatened by equality and so threatened by gay people that he has denied his front bench a conscience vote – something that his party’s leaders have never done in history – ever! And yet, a majority of Australians support marriage equality.

One of the most extraordinary things about the vote in the UK – is that both of our leaders are born there.  Julia Gillard, born in Barry, Wales and Tony Abbott born in London, England.  It is these two countries that have passed this law overnight in the House of Commons to protect and enshrine the rights of their citizens!

So, Its Time.

Its time to see equality for all Australians.

Its time for people on both sides of  our government to understand that this is an issue of human rights.

Its time for members of parliament to realise that this is our happiness, our future and our love they are playing political games with.

Its time for history to change.

Proud Day for American Equality

As the sun rises over the United States this morning, many gay and lesbian Americans awake with renewed hope for respect, inclusive leadership and equality in their nation.

Barack Obama, the first black President of the United States and the 44th President was re-elected yesterday to a second term. Obama follows the footsteps of fellow Democrat Bill Clinton, who was elected to his second term as President in 1997. He is also the first sitting President to acknowledge, defend and recognise the rights of America’s LGBT population, by supporting marriage equality.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try,” he said as he closed his acceptance speech yesterday.

 

 

Watch the historic speech here

Obama’s win was fairly definite and not as close as many pundits would have thought. The counting in Florida is all but over and it looks highly probable that Obama will end with 332 Electoral College votes. He only needed 270 to be re elected. The key swing states of Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Florida were important to his win (although, at the time of writing, Florida has still not been called).

But there were other issues in yesterday’s election that are important for the 3.4% of the United States population that identify as LGBT. In some rough mathematics, the population of the US is about 311 million people. In some simple math, that makes about 10.5 million Americans openly gay or lesbian.

They would be very happy with some state-based questions that were put as part of this 2012 election.

In Maine, in the very north east of the country, the question was put on the ballot “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

It is pleasing to see that the good people of Maine voted in favour of this 53%-47%. This will overturn a 2009 measure that banned equal marriage in that state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Minnesota, located in the mid-west on the Great Lakes, the people had their question put differently. They were asked to approve or deny “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.” At the time of writing, the no vote is similar to Maine, with about 6% difference over the yes vote. Minnesota legislators will probably move during this term to allow legal marriage between same sex attracted couples. Good on you Minnesota.

 

In the Mid-Atlantic state of Maryland, question 6 on the ballot asked the population who voted to agree or disagree with the statement: “you would approve a law that allows same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license.” With 99% of the vote counted, the ‘yes’ vote has been successful with about a 4% margin. Maryland, you rock.

 

 

 

 

Across the other side of the country, in the state of Washington, which sits in the Pacific North West, the ballot asked voters if same-sex marriage should be legalised in the state of Washington. The answer was also a resounding yes with another margin of about 4%. This follows the success of a bill in the Washington State Senate in February 2012. It’s a terrific result and although the votes have not all been tallied, it is most likely that there will be no move now to challenge that February result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were other moves foot during the election campaign that we did not really hear about.

Back to the mid-west and to Iowa. Known as the American Heartland, there was a move by the Republicans to take the State Senate and introduce a bill to ban equal marriage in that state. Imagine their shock when the Democrats held the state senate and Justice David Wiggins, who affirms equal marriage, was retained. This is great news for LGBT Iowans. Although that state did not ratify any sort of vote in favour of equal marriage, the GOP will not have the numbers to move anything against it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In New York State, the Democrats took the State Senate, a surprise to many. The National Organisation for Marriage (N.O.M.), which is a bit of a Republican sponsored organisation that doesn’t very much like marriage equality, has already outlined and published a three part plan to repeal the ‘Marriage Equality Act’ that was passed there in July 2011. Clearly now that won’t be going anywhere. Senator Mark Grissanti, one of the few Republicans who supported Marriage Equality in New York State, was returned in yesterday’s election.

One of the most pleasing results, however, was the election of Tammy Baldwin to the Federal Senate. The seven-term congresswoman from Wisconsin is the first openly gay person elected to the United States Senate. In other news from Wisconsin, the man that was elected to her congress seat, Mark Pocan, is also gay.

Watch Tammy Baldwin’s victory speech here:

Baldwin was one of four openly gay House members of the 112 U.S. Congress, along with fellow DemocratsBarney Frank of Massachusetts, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jared Polis of Colorado. There has never been an openly gay or lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.

Legislatures in Rhode Island, Delaware and Hawaii are likely to tackle same-sex marriage next, with the knowledge that they could pass a bill that may hold up at the ballot box.

All in all, this was a monumental election for Marriage Equality in the United States. There are many GLBT people in the U.S. and elsewhere who think that there are bigger issues in the United States, like the economy and healthcare, but for the time being, there are many millions of gay and lesbian Americans who are revelling in the post-election glow.

 

This article first appeared on www.samesame.com.au 

Obama and Romney – the gay vote

In just over two weeks, the next President of the United States will be elected. Following their recent debates, some polls indicate that Republican nominee Mitt Romney has made up some ground over the incumbent Barack Obama.

 

But where do the nominees stand on equality for same sex attracted people, and marriage equality?

Whilst political experts in the US suggest that GLBT equality will not be a deciding factor, in some of the key swing states, it is. North Carolina will be a swing state and could be one of those that will determine the outcome of the election, and it has recently voted in favour (61% -39%) of an amendment that states marriage is between one man and one woman, similar to the Marriage Amendment Bill of 2004 here in Australia. But it is also suggested by the experts and pundits that a majority of those who voted against the amendment, will vote Democrat. Confused? So am I.

In May of this year, following comments from his Vice President, Joe Biden and several of his key ministry secretaries, President Obama made clear his position with this statement:

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married… when I think of members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think of soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors…”

The next step was to seek endorsement at the Democratic National Convention, and when he was endorsed as the Democrat nominee for this election, his platform for change was endorsed as well.

Each nominee has indicated publicly where they stand, and it is clear that Obama would be the choice for the millions of GLBT Americans.

Romney is unflinching in his opposition – for the moment at least. As early as December of last year, Romney was telling a gay Vietnam veteran to his face and in front of television cameras, that he believes marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For now!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRN9Y5Nvdqk

But in his bid for a Senate seat back in 1994, Romney wrote a letter to a gay rights group known as the Log Cabin Club claiming that he supported full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens.

Then in his gubernatorial race in 2002 to become the Governor of Massachusetts, Romney’s campaign circulated a flier in a gay pride weekend asserting his support for equal rights for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation.

So, where do gay rights sit now, officially, as part of each candidate’s election platform?
Romney has committed to the appointment of an Attorney General who will defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

He also plans to champion a Federal Marriage amendment to the US constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. How this will affect those states like Washington and New York that have recently legislated in favour of equal marriage, we are not yet sure.

President Obama, on the other hand, is the first sitting President to publicly announce his support for equal marriage, and it is also supported by former Presidents Clinton, and Carter and former Vice Presidents Cheney and Gore as well as the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Obama’s website states that the President believes that LGBT Americans should be treated fairly and equally.

The President has repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation to protect members of the United States armed forces, and prevent them from having to lie about their sexuality. Obama also endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the aforementioned DOMA.

He has also signed various acts, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, ensuring that hate crimes include those that are committed against a person for perceived or actual gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability and ensuring extended hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights to LGBT couples.

Obama seems to be the clear choice for LGBT Americans. On November 7th, I for one hope that the rights of those citizens are upheld and Barack Obama is allowed to forge forward to further protect our US lesbian and gay friends.

What happens post-election if Obama is elected? How will his decisions change what happens in the rest of the world, particularly in those countries where gay men, lesbians, bisexual, transgendered and intersex people are put to death or jailed for the way they love? We can only hope that the tide of conservatism that has pervaded international politics over the past few years will turn in our favour.

 

This article was first published 19.10.2012 on samesame.com.au