US Election simplified.

I am a bit of a political animal – and have spent many early mornings and late nights watching the result of US Elections.

Its a pretty complicated system, unlike ours in many respects… and I was having a conversation about how hard it is to understand how it works.  So in the interest of community service, here is how it works.

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Firstly, voting is non compulsory in America and thats why there is a massive amount of energy and money expended in these elections – to get people to vote a particular way. In recent years (and forgetting mid term elections), about 60% of the population are bothered enough to vote. Both sides of politics work hard to attract voters to their cause.

Hilary Clinton is a Democrat – a centrist left party,  founded in 1828 and along with Barack Obama, it has boasted Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Bains Johnson, Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson – and many more right the way back to Andrew Jackson.

Donald Trump, who has never held public office, is a Republican which is often referred to as the GOP – the Grand Old Party.  Oddly enough, although nothing in the US surprises us, the Grand Old Party was first used in the Pennsylvania Agitator to describe the Democratic party in 1856 – not long before the US Civil War.

But I digress – I was supposed to be making it simpler. Sorry.

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Rather than voting directly for a Presidential nominee, electors vote for representatives in their state’s electoral college – its not a real college but a term used to describe the voting groups.  They are usually loyal to a party, and each state’s ‘college’ then award their college votes to one or another of the nominees.

 The number of electoral college votes is determined by the number of people in congress in that state, and those numbers are based on the states population. Are you still with me? Good. 

Many of the states are already kind of locked in – some states traditionally vote red (Republican) or blue (Democrat). So when Americans go to vote on Tuesday, they will vote for a group of electors to make their decision.  One nominee for President has to get 270 of the 538 available electoral college votes to be inaugurated as President.

There was a tie once, and there is an interesting situation at play in this 2016 election. There is a third nominee – Evan McMullin from Utah, a mormon businessman (Utah has a huge population of Mormons) and a former CIA operative.  He is leading both Clinton and Trump in that state. If neither Trump or Clinton can get enough college electoral votes (less than 270), then the top 3 candidates are required to go to Congress (the kind of equivalent of the House of Reps here) to ask the states to vote for them.

Each state has one vote in this situation – and Evan McMullin could potentially become the 45th President of the United States. If he can gather enough support from some of the other swing states who don’t want either Clinton or Trump as President, he could earn enough votes to win.  This could be a bit of a Stephen Bradbury moment (remember the Aussie speed skater who won gold at the Winter Olympics by coming from last?)

The Republicans have won Utah since 1964 – so if McMullin wins in Utah, the 6 electoral college votes they have won’t count for either Trump or Clinton – and could very well provide one of the most fascinating outcomes in a US election in many years.

So in short – one candidate must win 270 votes  The first to do so will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the US.

If neither candidate makes it to 270, then Utah comes in to play.

If congress decides they don’t want either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump, then the Utah independent could become President.

My prediction – Hilary Clinton will make the 270 vote quota and win with a narrow margin and Utah wont come in to play.

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.

An open letter to Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

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Dear Mr Abbott.

You have been presented with an opportunity to go down in history as a Prime Minister that Australia will remember.  You have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. You have, Mr Abbott, an opportunity to make the lives of millions of Australians different and I implore you to take this opportunity.

Its time for us to catch up to the rest of the world on marriage equality.  Its time for you to put your personal prejudices aside and realise the will of the Australian people.  I know you personally don’t approve of lesbians and gay men getting married, but you weren’t elected to foist your personal prejudices on the Australian people – you were elected to govern for and on behalf of the people of Australia.

More than 70% of those people from all walks of life – christians, atheists, grand parents and teenagers, new australians and sixth generation Australians, the old and the young, the gay and the straight – approve of our government affording the celebration of a marriage and the life long commitment it entails to all Australians. You have the power Mr Abbott – this decision rests firmly in your hands.

In 2004, at almost 12 midnight, your political hero, then Prime Minister John Howard and his band of merry men, of which you were one, redefined the Marriage Act, with the Marriage Amendment Bill, 2004 firmly stating that marriage is only between one man and one woman, and that same sex marriages solemnised overseas would not be recognised. 11 years on Mr Abbott, the world is a different place that you have the power to change.

When you took your oath of office, you swore the following “…. and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the Commonwealth of Australia, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. So help me God!”  I fear that you are not standing up to your end of the bargain, Mr Abbott. Your fear of homosexuals is on the record, and your favouring of the Catholic Church, of which you are a staunch believer, is also on the record.  Mr Abbott, you are not abiding by your oath of office as the Prime Minister of Australia.

Its not about the children Tony – you and I both know that, because same sex couples in every corner of this country are raising children – those born to one of the partners of the relationship, those born through IVF and surrogacy and those who don’t quite fit your 1950’s view of family – but we are doing it already Mr Abbott and our kids are fine. They are well functioning humans who know love and compassion and don’t understand bigotry and fear.

Its not about pandering to a christian minority either Mr Abbott. I reckon for every practising (and I mean actual practising) believer in god, allah, jesus and buddha you find, I can show you a homosexual man or woman who is equally contributing to our society.

Our kids ask us, Mr Abbott why we can’t get married?  We are buying our house, we go to work and contribute to the economy, we volunteer with a number of organisations and we go about our lives as all of our friends do.  Tell me Tony, how would you explain to our kids that it is you who are in the way of us getting married. Our 19 year old son, who we raise with Down Syndrome and an acquired brain injury from chemotherapy thanks to leukaemia, watched Modern Family and has seen Cameron and Mitchell get married. He sat in font of the TV and watched that show, and he asked why we can’t get married like Cameron and Mitchell.  How would you answer that question Tony?

You are at a political crossroads – lets face it, your Prime Ministership isn’t going down in history as one we will remember in a positive way – think of the treatment of asylum seekers and the disadvantaged, neither of them your finest hours! Imagine your name in the annals of history one day as the PM who oversaw the introduction of marriage equality in Australia. This has the potential to be the biggest social change in our post war history. What a way to be remembered Tony?

I know that this simple letter wont change your mind. Your moral upright opinions held by you and your morally upright compatriots are hurting people. You have had to do nothing to fight for your rights as a heterosexual white man- by the virtue of a bit of DNA colliding after your parents had a shag, you were born heterosexual, white and middle class – what a magnificent privilege you enjoy. We don’t choose to be gay Mr Abbott, but we bloody well fight for our rights to be who we are. Does it offend you so much that two people who have found love, can be happy?

Marriage is not a christian celebration or sacrament  -it was happening long before your jesus walked this earth. It is a social construct where women were once traded for livestock. Thats what marriage was – it has evolved over centuries to what it is and Ireland has shown us this week that it will continue to evolve.

So Mr Abbott – when it comes time to make the decision on behalf of so many of us, please consider how much we have had to fight to this date, how exhausted we are with fighting for this basic human right and how you hold the power to make the biggest social change in our history. Think long and hard Tony, your very political survival will rely on it.

 

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

Death of a Statesman

Death of a Statesman

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November 11, 1975 – it was a pretty big day in Australian politics. It started in 1972, on December 2.  The Liberal Party, in a coalition with the Country Party had governed us for 23 years and Billy McMahon was our Prime Minister. McMahon was on the nose and Australia went to the polls.

The campaign slogan for the Australia Labor Party, Its Time has since become one of the most iconic campaigns in our political history. Gough Whitlam was elected with a slim majority of nine seats. Remarkably, Whitlam was able to instigate reform unlike we had seen before and Australia changed – it changed a great deal. It was a cloistered, conservative time that ended when Gough was elected. In 1974, after an attempt by the opposition to block supply, his margin was reduced to five seats – but he certainly got some major reform happening.

Some won’t agree and will tell you Gough stuffed the economy with rash spending and poor economic management. I would suggest that this is not entirely true. While the US and UK economies went in to recession during Gough’s time, ours did not. Great social change comes at a cost – and the Whitlam Government oversaw the greatest social change in Australia since Federation.

Universal health care for all Australians costs money, education reforms costs money, law reform costs money, changes to the rights of women costs money, championing the rights of our Indigenous population costs money, and the recognition of and relationship with Red China, costs money. None of these things could have been achieved without a cost – and human rights, equality and justice should not be counted in dollar terms, at all. Ever!

War costs money – and we were at war in Vietnam. The collapse of the US Dollar, a 400% increase in the cost of oil, industrial disputes in the UK with miners walking off the job and forcing the price of coal sky high, the UK inflation rate skyrocketed from 7,4% to almost 25%. Likewise, the US was in some serious doodoo as well between ’73 and ’75. Our financial woes were meek compared to what was happening north of the equator.

Gough Whitlam changed this nation like no leader before him and certainly not one since. Hawke was an incredible leader and Howard one of the best politicians that we have seen. But neither of them can be remembered like Gough. He got rid of the death penalty, he pulled our troops out of Vietnam, he ended conscription. He was behind no fault divorces and saw independence in Papua New Guinea.

Gough was not perfect – East Timor is a dark stain on his record, his indifference leading to the invasion by the Soeharto Government of Indonesia – a wrong that took decades to fix.

Conversely, without his foray in to China, we would not have the relationship we have with China today.

I was saddened by the death of Gough Whitlam. I don’t know that we will ever see another leader like him. There were many tears shed after his death last week – and I fervently hope that there were many more political careers thought of as a possibility. Change doesn’t just happen – people make change and if the death of Whitlam has sparked anything in me, it is a desire to be a part of change.

Edward Gough Whitlam will be remembered by many people in many ways, some of them less than kind.  I will remember him as someone who made Australia a place that I can live in safely, with dignity and respect and in a place that I can be who I was born to be.  There is no greater legacy than that. There has been no greater statesman.

RIP Gough.

There is a lot going on – and I am struggling

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There is a great deal going in the world that is causing me grief and making me wonder about the world we live in and what will be left of it all.

I don’t know if my fears are justified but just the same, I feel betrayed by our leaders and wonder to what end we should be fighting a war on the other side of the world, that is only going to make us a target?

Australia is not a place for the radical or the extreme – it never has been. We don’t enter in to the fray of religious fatwas and political jihads – its not our style. Sure there are extremists everywhere –  feminists, Christians and Muslims, and we only need to look to the Tea Party in the United States and the extreme right of the Republicans, to the KKK and white supremacists everywhere, and then there is Russia.

But I wonder why we have to get involved.  We live in an idyllic little paradise here in the Antipodes.  We are not the US, we are not Germany or China.  Our military might is miniscule compared to others and we do punch above our weight in the big wide world. Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Yemen, Ghana, Madagascar, Peru, Venezuala and Malaysia all share similar population sizes to us – and they are not strapping in their nations ready for war.  Most of them probably lack the funds or are dealing with internal civil or economic wars of their own. Why is Australia weighing in to this?

Again, I am not naive or alarmist – in fact I am pretty tolerant of most people, most of the time. Frequent exclusions to that general rule usually include reality TV personnel and certain members of the federal Government front bench.  But I do fear what our involvement will bring and what the repercussions are.

Some will say that terrorism is growing here – that recent raids have netted some scary results. I say that if there are five people living here who are arrested for being extremists, then I say we are pretty safe and in a good position. I am a step dad and I want to make sure that the world that the two small people in my life, and the many in my extended family, live in, is safe.  I want that they can grow up to be the best that they can be without restriction – just as I have.

New terror laws that will restrict the already diminishing freedom of the press, and others, are alarming.  Does this mean that every time I write a missive that disagrees with the powers in parliament, that I am a terror suspect? Because I am writing this piece, am I putting myself forward for questioning and potential incarceration for having a strong, non supportive opinion that disagrees with the government?

Does allowing ASIO and other agencies the ability to tap in to any online network (including the entire internet) take away the individual freedoms and privacy that Australia has become known for? Soon we may no longer be the lucky country, but simply another nation where news is dominated by war and atrocity – that’s not us.

I am struggling to understand it, I am scared for what the future will hold.  I am confused about a budget emergency that went out the window the minute there was a chance to be involved in a war that is not ours to fight.

I am struggling with a lacklustre opposition who seem not to have any bite or fight – who are supporting some of the heartless decisions that are being made by our government – sending asylum seekers to Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt nations and a country that has an abysmal human rights record. That’s not what Australia is about.

Few will read this, less will comment but it might give me the kick in the pants I need to get off my ass and be a bit more vocal about what I am struggling with.

I am not nationalistic, nor am I one of those who sees Australia above all others, but this is becoming a country of which I get more ashamed every day.

There is a lot going on – and I am struggling.

 

 

 

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.