I am, we are….

We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian

Read more: Various Artists – I Am Australian Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Spontaneously the 600 assembled in the public gallery of Australia’s House of Representatives burst into that song last night at this moment:

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See Same-sex marriage signed into law by Governor-General, first weddings to happen from January 9 and ‘I’m glad I’ve lived this long to see it’: At 98, Neville Wills can finally marry the love of his life.

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Check my previous posts. For more context visit SSM: A global perspective on Australia’s change.

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Postal survey: almost zero hour

Nine minutes to go!

While we’re waiting, look back over my posts tagged Vote Yes!

The Chicken Littles are doing their best to spike the result, should it be YES! Their case really has been utter nonsense. As I wrote in September:

First, just to make it plain, I do not believe that every opponent of same-sex marriage is a homophobe. Indeed there are examples of same-sex couples who will themselves choose NO in the current Postal Survey. Nor do I think that Israel Folau has no right to his views compared with David Pocock, to confine ourselves to Rugby players for the moment. Naturally, though, I do hope that there are many more David Pococks in the Postal Survey!

Second, I commend careful reading of Legal Eagle’s thoroughly thoughtful post.

But when it comes to the NO case as it now so often appears, I still cannot but see it as other than rampant Chicken Little. Or slippery slope-ism. That the question is essentially a simple one seems to get lost.

Five minutes to go!

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South Sydney Uniting Church

And here is another of my September posts: Reject Chicken Little!

Two minutes!

One minute!

Australia says YES!

The Australian people have voted. Same-sex marriage will be legalised in Australia by Christmas if the Turnbull Government sticks to its promise.
The official results are emphatic: 61.6 per cent of all Australians voted to change the law. Every state and territory voted Yes.
Only 17 electorates in the whole country voted No.

 

In which I am made to feel very old…

So the Same Sex Marriage Survey is in its last fortnight, with as of yesterday 75% of eligible responses received. The feeling is that YES has won, but you never know…

I was chuffed to see iconic Aussie songman John Williamson (“Hey True Blue!”) on Channel Nine this morning saying absolutely sensible things as he talked about his latest release. See ‘My whole life has been about loving Australia’.

But it’s not all looking back: It’s All About Love is a jaunty call for marriage equality, sung as a duet with the out-and-proud country siren Beccy Cole. It’s not a new thing for Williamson, who has toured extensively with the unashamedly gay fiddle player Pixie Jenkins since the early 80s, but it’s refreshing to hear a country song dedicated to a time “…when it’s not important what sex you are, or what sex you have”, as Williamson explains. “Or what colour you are, or where you’re from. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

On Monday #QandA dedicated itself to the marriage survey. They had the wonderful Magda  Szubanski, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, the excellent Father Frank Brennan, and NO campaigner Karina Okotel, a vice president of both the Federal and Victorian divisions of the Liberal Party, a champion Chicken Littler.  Now as the show neared its end came this question:

This question is for Karina. In your speech at the National Press Club last month, you cited a case in the UK where an orthodox Jewish school was threatened with closure because it didn’t teach kids about tolerance and respect. I was teased at school for being “faggy”. They said I was a little too expressive with my hands. I spoke with a bit of a lisp, I liked fashion magazines. I got teased much, much more for looking gay than being Asian. Can’t you see that by not raising awareness in class about gay people in society perpetuates the feeling of isolation that children have, like I did, in coming to terms with their sexuality?…

KARINA OKOTEL
That material is taught to children as young as 11 or 12, from Year 7.

TONY JONES
Our questioner is shaking his head, so I’d just like to get back to him.

ANHTAI ANHTUAN
I think you’re taking the Safe Schools program, there are fringes of that program which were inappropriate, definitely, but at the heart of that program, was about teaching about tolerance and respect. That there are people that aren’t heterosexual but they’re normal people, but yet we lose sight of that and that’s the problem here. I think by saying No, you’re saying Yes to being treated differently for something I can’t change.

See my posts on the much maligned Safe Schools program, especially Show some backbone, PM.

Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87: .@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.

First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers.

And I remember Anhtai from my teaching days at SBHS. Proud to see him handle himself so well on #QandA, but at the same time it really makes me feel old. The world now belongs to these boys I knew as teens — to me such a short time ago!

And then earlier on Monday who should pop up on The Drum but another one: Jack Manning Bancroft. What an impressive human being he is!

Finally, there is much heat at the moment concerning the internet activist outfit GetUp! I really suspect that GetUp’s cardinal sin is that it is effective. See my post on the Class of 1995.

There is much of interest to me in today’s Sun-Herald, not least a wonderful cartoon by Cathy Wilcox – not yet online. Going back a bit I was drawn to the article The class of 1995: HSC high achievers 20 years on, having taught the Class of 1995 at Sydney Boys High. One member, Jeremy Heimans, features in the article.

Having received a TER of 99.95, he studied Arts Law and then Honours in government at the University of Sydney. After studying at Harvard he has spent the past 10 years working as a political activist and entrepreneur. In 2005 he founded Get-up in Australia. Today he is chief executive and co-founder of the New York-based company Purpose.com. In 2014, he delivered one of the year’s top TED talks, which attracted more than a million views, and today he is working on a book on the topic of “new power”.

Heimans describes himself as “an activist from the age of 12”.

“I had this funny childhood where at age 12 I sounded like a 40-year-old,” Heimans jokes. “In many ways I’m doing a lot of the work I did as a kid, but with better tools.

“I had to try on a bunch of different suits for size – I tried on a lot of different roles in my teens and mid-20s.”

“I benefited from a great public school education and I’m very grateful for that,” said Heimans, who remembers his final school years as a period of robust debates, challenging ideas and honing his debating skills.

Finally but irrelevantly I am posting for posterity this  oh-so-evocative image of Donald Trump. I gather he hates it. I think I can understand that! It is just TOO revealing!

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More from the world of the Postal Survey

First, just to make it plain, I do not believe that every opponent of same-sex marriage is a homophobe. Indeed there are examples of same-sex couples who will themselves choose NO in the current Postal Survey. Nor do I think that Israel Folau has no right to his views compared with David Pocock, to confine ourselves to Rugby players for the moment. Naturally, though, I do hope that there are many more David Pococks in the Postal Survey!

Second, I commend careful reading of Legal Eagle’s thoroughly thoughtful post.

But when it comes to the NO case as it now so often appears, I still cannot but see it as other than rampant Chicken Little. Or slippery slope-ism. That the question is essentially a simple one seems to get lost. See my previous post for more.

I particularly can’t get – though John Howard can – the argument on religious liberty. Legal Eagle helps.

It’s true to say (as some of my Yes vote advocate friends have said) that religious freedom and freedom of speech are different questions from the question that is being asked in the survey. Part of the problem stems from the fact that we don’t even know what we’re voting on – they won’t prepare a Bill until we vote on whether we want the law or not. But I think that any provision for same-sex marriage should make it clear that it will not force religious groups to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. Some of my religious friends are worried about what the position may become if a Yes vote stands, and cite the example of the Tasmanian pastor and preacher who have been the subject of complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. They fear this is the beginning of a greater trend. They are concerned that the acceptance of same-sex marriage will mean anti-discrimination legislation can be used to make religious people suppress their views, and to have to conduct same-sex marriages against their will. And then, of course, there’s the services cases (involving flowers or cakes for same-sex marriages).

As an aside, I have never understood why a person would wish to force a reluctant florist or baker to provide for a same-sex wedding. If I were in that position, I would rather not give the service provider money, nor have them anywhere near my wedding. But this may be something to do with my private law background – as a general principle of law, courts are usually unwilling to specifically enforce contracts for services because of the coercive nature of such relief (see eg, JC Williamson Ltd v Lukey (1931) 45 CLR 282, 293 (Starke J), 297–98 (Dixon J); Byrne v Australian Airlines Ltd (1995) 185 CLR 410, 428 (Brennan CJ, Dawson and Toohey JJ)). The rationale for the rule with regard to contracts for services is that it’s inappropriate to force parties who don’t get along any more to work together. And I guess that’s a greater point. As my co-blogger Skepticlawyer has pointed out, you can’t use the law to force people to like you or accept you.

In today’s news we read Church cancels wedding because bride and groom supported gay marriage on Facebook.

Presbyterian ministers and churchgoers are under clear directions to oppose same-sex marriage. Mr Wilson, who is also moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, published a blog post committing the church to the “no” case and calling on attendees to campaign actively.

“There are many powerful voices clamouring to tear down what God declares to be holy. The church must not be silent on this,” Mr Wilson wrote.

However, other church sources suggested the Ballarat experience was uncommon. Darren Middleton, convenor of the Church and Nation committee and a Geelong minister, said it was the first such case he had encountered.

“This is a decision for individual ministers to make. My guess is most probably would have let the wedding go ahead,” he told Fairfax Media. “It’s not normally a requirement to get married that you subscribe to particular views. I would want to talk to them about their views … but that wouldn’t be a bar to them getting married. That’s a separate issue in my mind.”…

On Facebook Trevor Khan MLC NSW (National Party) has commented:

So, let’s be clear:
1) This demonstrates that churches, now, have an absolute discretion (enshrined in the Marriage Act) as to who they chose to marry, and
2) Neither side has a mortgage on “crazy”.

My background, by the way, is Presbyterian.

And here is something else we can well do without.

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That is  former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s godson, bashed during an argument about same-sex marriage.

Now some personal notes. I am not TELLING people how to answer the survey. VOTE is apparently not the right word, by the way. But I am hoping that the majority do choose YES because, as I keep saying, it is the right thing to do. First there are all those same-sex couples I have known, not all of whom would have opted for marriage personally, though I suspect all would have supported the right of those who did so choose to have that option. Second there is my own relationship commencing in 1990 — yes, 27 years ago — with M. We did live together for over ten years, and still mean a great deal to one another. M was at my side at my mother’s funeral in 1996. One memory is of M sitting ensconced with my Aunt Beth at Kay and Roy’s place in Sutherland after that funeral. M’s own mother and younger sister have passed away this year.

Another highlight was the following year, when M, who is from Shanghai, gained his Australian citizenship. William Yang recorded it.

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Fast forward to 2012 here in Wollongong:

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Please! Ignore the Chicken Littles on “freedom of speech”, “freedom of religion”, and weirdness like the Revenant of Oz and her nonsense about not being able to call your Mum and Dad Mum and Dad! Choose a kinder Australia when you mark your survey form!