Monday, 12 December 2011

Alex Greenwich SPEAKS NOW

Alex Greenwich, the National Convenor of the very effective lobby group, Australian Marriage Equality, has drawn attention to the successes achieved during the campaign of 2011.  He also recommends some courses of action we can take to keeping this issue alive...

Thank you for your support throughout 2011, together we have achieved the following:

1. Changed the ALP Platform to support marriage equality
2. Gained the Tasmanian and ACT Government's endorsement of Marriage equality
3. Had same-sex marriages counted and recognisged in the Census for the first time

4. CNIs being issued to same-sex couples wishing to marry overseas

As this
unstoppable momentum continues into the new year we now need to help Coalition MPs wo open their hearts and minds to the importance of marriage equality.
We know Coalition leaders like Barry O'Farrell, Barnaby Joyce, Malcolm Turnbull and SA Leader Isobel Redmond all want MPs in their party to be allowed a conscience vote to reflect the strong public support for marriage equality. 

Shortly we will be announcing our exciting plans for 2012, but in the mean-time follow the below links to help make a difference now:

Sign the petition calling on Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote
2. Contact Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop directly and request the coalition grants a conscience vote
3. Email all your MPs and Senators asking them to support reform.

We will enter the new year confident that we have the support of a majority of Australians and progress on our side!

Thanks you for your continued support,
Alex Greenwich

Monday, 5 December 2011

Rodney Croome SPEAKS NOW...

Rodney Croome, leading rights activist and contributor to SPEAK NOW, comments on the recent political developments...

There was a mixed outcome from Saturday’s Labor National Conference debate on marriage equality.
On the one hand the Labor Party made history by adopting a policy in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.
This is a first for a major Australian political party and reversed the party’s anti-equality position adopted only seven years ago.
But the ALP also voted to give Labor members the right to vote against that policy should their conscience compel them to.
With Labor holding a wafer-thin majority in Parliament this means a marriage equality has no chance unless the Coalition also allows a conscience vote.
The 10,000-strong rally that converged on the Conference after the vote wasn’t sure to cheer or boo, so it did both.
But if there is one unambiguous message from the Conference it is that the campaign for marriage equality is working.
Up until the last election there was only a handful of Labor MPs willing to back marriage equality.
Fifteen months later it is supported by all but one state Labor leader, all but one state Labor conference, two state Labor governments, most federal Labor ministers, and now the Labor National Conference.
Even a conscience vote is, in its own way, a success.
Until just a few months ago a national civil union scheme was the preferred fall-back position for many Labor decision-makers.
But that option would have cut off progress on marriage equality, whereas a conscience vote at least provides a way forward.
Beneath these changes lies a more fundamental shift in community attitudes, with support for marriage equality rising from 38% in 2004 to 65% today.
All these rapid and important changes come down to the effectiveness of the marriage equality movement.
What makes it so effective is
a)     its emphasis on the power of personal stories in changing the hearts and minds of those conflicted about marriage equality (the popular It’s Time Get Up ad encapsulates this)
b)    its use of social media to translate popular support for reform into letter-writing and petitioning campaigns that, for the first time in Australia, are bigger than those organised by the churches
c)     its achievements of small but encouraging victories along the way (eg counting same-sex married couples in the Census and removing the ban on the documents same-sex couples need to marry overseas)
d)    its ability to learn from the mistakes of campaigns overseas (for example, not allowing civil unions to become an acceptable substitute for marriage equality)
e)     its cooperative and cohesive spirit when compared to many of the fractious and divided marriage equality movements in other countries
There are many challenges ahead for marriage equality supporters.
It is uncertain if Tony Abbott will allow a conscience vote, and even if he does, it is uncertain if there are the numbers for marriage equality to pass.
The issue may require more than one vote to pass, as was the case in New York earlier this year.
But if the ALP National Conference tells us anything it is that we are on the right track.
Our campaigning has made marriage equality possible, and in the minds of many, inevitable. The next step is to make it happen.
Rodney Croome is the Campaign Director of Australian Marriage Equality
To find out more about AME go to

Sunday, 4 December 2011

ALP changes its policy, but...

At the ALP's national conference on Saturday Dec. 3rd, Party delegates endorsed, on voices, an amendment to the party's platform to amend the Marriage Act and allow gay and lesbian people to marry their same-sex partners.

However, following Prime MInister Julia Gillard's lead, they voted 208 to 184 in favour of her motion  to allow state and federal MPs a conscience vote on gay marriage, meaning that if a Bill is introduced into Federal Parliament, representatives will not be bound by Party policy, but will be free to vote according to their own lights.

How much is an individual's conscience a reliable guide to legislating other peoples' rights?

As John Faulkner said, governments don't grant human rights, they recognise them. To give such a matter over to a conscience vote is unconscionable.

ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, a contributor to SPEAK NOW,  moved the motion to change the platform and, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, he received a standing ovation as he put the 'yes' case.  'We deserve the respect and the dignity afforded to others,' he said. 'We deserve equality.'

Joe de Bruyn of the Right faction re-asserted the definition of marriage as 'the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life', claiming that that 'It has always been that way since the dawn of humanity.'

On another issue, Julia Gillard also held sway and successfully argued that the Labor Party should lift its ban on uranium sales to India!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

SPEAK NOW for Marriage Equality

Australian Marriage Equality rally on Saturday 3rd Dec., from 12 noon, in Sydney's Hyde Park.

The rally, which has the support of the City of Sydney, will move from Hyde Park North to the Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. 

It's a critical time to speak up; after months of lobbying, the long-awaited National Conference of the ALP is poised to consider either adopting a binding policy in favour of equality or, following the lead of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to permit politicians to vote according to their conscience on this issue. 

As Tim Wright has written in his contribution to SPEAK NOW:
   Julia Gillard’s ascension to the Labor Party leadership in June 2010 briefly raised hopes that reform to the Marriage Act was finally within our grasp. A declared atheist and (at least nominally) a member of the party’s left faction, she has the pedigree of a marriage equality supporter. Indeed, in 2006, she launched a book that I edited titled Time for Change: Australia in the 21st Century, which rejected many of the Howard Government’s policies, including its opposition to same-sex marriage. But it was not to be. The new prime minister declared her support for the ‘traditional’ definition of marriage shortly after assuming the top job, which bewildered progressives and would plague her during the August election campaign.

It became apparent during that campaign that Ms. Gillard was not prepared  to 'move forward' (her election slogan) on marriage equality, content instead to position Australia to the rear of advanced nations such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, and recently, Brazil, as well as some states in the U.S. (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, D.C., New York) all of which have changed their relevant laws to allow equality.  Since that time Ms. Gillard has relied heavily on the plank in the Party platform that privileges opposite sex partnerships and the Australian Christian Lobby continues to run a fearful campaign to defend the conventional arrangement.

You can e-mail your Federal Labor rep. through this site:

Friday, 25 November 2011


Read Thomas Vale-Slattery's review of the collection, "Speaking Up on Same-Sex Marriage",  here:

See, too, David Allan at Gay Law Net

and Angela Yin's review for Q News, "Or Forever Hold Your Peace", is at:

Friday, 11 November 2011

Wendell Rosevear SPEAKS NOW

Dr Wendell Rosevear, OAM, is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of GPs who works tirelessly in the areas of Gay & Lesbian health, having co-founded the Gladstone Road and Stonewall Medical Centres in Brisbane.  He founded GLADS (Gay & Lesbian Alcohol & Drug recovery group) in 1991, and MARS (Men Affected by Rape & Sexual Abuse) in 1993.  Dr Rosevear has worked in prisons for many years, cares for people with HIV/AIDS and is active in suicide prevention.  
   Recognised in the annual SameSame list of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians, among his many awards and honours is the 1996 Brisbane Australia Day Citizen of the Year, a 2001 'Local Hero' award, and the Order of Australia Medal in 1998.  His community spirit has earned him the nickname 'Nelson Wendella' among his colleagues. 
   Known for his counselling work in prisons, he lobbies nationally to generate insight and compassionate understanding about drug addiction and recovery, sexual assault and suicide prevention.  His personal life motto is 'Make love infectious' and his chapter in SPEAK NOW is titled 'Love is not a threat'.

We asked Dr Rosevear to respond to the controversy aroused by the publication of SPEAK NOW,  in particular the criticism that it doesn't speak with one voice on the issue of marriage and that politicians could be 'spooked' by the proposal of polyamory expressed by some of the contributors...

Your aim in producing the book is to foster a dialogue or conversation, so thanks.  Of course that means there will be as many opinions as participants.  Resolution doesn't come from sameness or conformity, it comes from acceptance and respect for honesty and choice.  If we seek to not have a discussion because we don't or won't agree, then we miss out on the development of understanding and empathy that comes from interaction.  If we deny one person a voice because it isn't politically expedient, we are missing the point that safety comes from valuing each person and each perspective.    
   I think one of the book’s strengths is that it welcomes diversity of opinion and that gives it real credibility.  Not everyone in the gay community wants marriage, and some are opposed to it.  Really we need to foster respect for choice and we can't ask for more than that.  I work in sexual assault recovery and I am so aware that when you have a choice, you feel valued and when you have it taken away or denied, you feel devalued.  We are simply asking for choice to affirm the value of all Australians... to help make Australia safe.  I have seen at least seven homophobic murders in Queensland and homophobia is a toxic poison Australia can’t afford to sustain.

    Some want to foster ongoing prejudice, by raising the issue of polyamory.  However, polyamory is a reality in the heterosexual and gay world (and certainly part of the Muslim world).  We don't deal best with reality by denying it.  As we have learned, messages about safe sex for HIV and other STD prevention are best sent when we can be honest about practice and risk, not just about some myth that people are monogamous, in or out of marriage.  Everyone is valuable, no matter who they choose to love and, as I wrote in my piece for SPEAK NOW,  'Love is not a Threat, Hate is'.

    I also said Christians need to understand that civil government needs to stand up for civil rights, so that if they were to become a minority, their rights could be protected also.  This issue is not about whose moral or political opinion about marriage is right, it is about valuing people and respecting their choices, which is really the foundation of morality anyway.  
    I think it would be good to send a copy to Julia Gillard, as she needs to process the issues to free her thinking.  In no way does the book say one way is 'right'.  I don't let fear run my life, I am an advocate of love; it beats fear.  Just let there be honest voices heard to effect the change that comes from the power of people's voices.  .....make Love infectious.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Melbourne Cup Weekend - Launch at Hares and Hyenas - this Sunday

We're finishing off our run of 'October launches' with the Melbourne launch of Speak Now this Sunday.

Come along at 2pm, Sunday 30 October to Hares and Hyenas Bookshop and Cafe (63 Johnston St, Fitzroy 3065 Victoria). Prof. Dennis Altman, one of our contributors, and Victor Marsh the editor will be introducing the book.

The event is free and all are welcome.

Title details and information - Clouds of Magellan

Brisbane launch

Shelley Argent (Shelley Argent OAM National Spokesperson PFLAG) and Victor Marsh (editor) at the recent Avid Reader Bookshop (Brisbane) launch.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Shelley Argent speaks now

The issue of same sex marriage is an issue very close to my heart. As I constantly tell the MP’s and Senators I meet in Canberra 'I have 2 sons, one gay, one straight and I want equality for both my sons'.

Marriage equality is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed in Australia. Conservative, Catholic countries are legislating for equality which encourages inclusion but the Australian Government is very slow to act because, as I am constantly told by the MPs, 'we are different'.

The continued discrimination in this country against the gay community is similar to the belief that the White Australia Policy was a good thing, but of course we now know this isn’t true. Racist fears were found to be groundless once this discriminatory policy was removed. And the same thing will apply when equality comes for the LGBTI community.

What gives me hope is today the young people are more informed, with higher expectations, and won’t accept second best. As a parent I believe this is an issue where parents should be standing in front of their children saying 'We want equality for all our children, not just some'.

This book SPEAK NOW contains a variety of stories, all compelling and confirming to me that it’s time for change, regardless of whether couples personally want to marry. Most definitely, they should have the same choices and rights as their siblings and society in general.

Marriage is an institution that isn’t perfect, or a Utopia, but it is how society generally values and celebrates a couple’s relationship.

Shelley Argent OAM
National Spokesperson PFLAG
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Qld. Senior Australian of the Year 2011

Shelley Argent and Victor Marsh launched 'Speak now : Australian perspectives on sane-sex marriage' at Avid Reader, 18 October.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Rodney Croome speaks now!

Most Australians know that last week the Tasmanian Lower House passed a motion in support of marriage equality.

The motion sent an important message to the Labor Party National Conference and to the Federal Parliament.

The message was made stronger because MPs from religious and blue collar backgrounds supported the motion so ardently, and because opposition from the Liberal Party was muted (we heard none of the Liberals’ past claims about marriage equality being “socially destructive”, showing how much the issue has lost its edge as a political wedge).

All these positive messages will be amplified on October 11th when Senator Sarah Hanson-Young calls attention to the Tasmanian motion in the Senate.

Coverage of the decision highlighted the irony of Tasmania being the first state to pass a marriage equality motion when it was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality. But as I’ve argued, Tassie is leading because of its history, not despite it.

What many Australians will not appreciate is the impact the marriage equality motion has had locally.
There was a strong media focus on marriage equality in the lead up to the motion, thanks to David Foster’s support for the issue, as well as the release of an opinion poll and a survey of the economic impact of reform.

The motion itself put Tassie in the national and global spotlight.
In turn, this has sparked an intense community debate in Tasmania with floods of talk back callers and letters to the editor. Local newspapers have published a wide variety of opinion pieces on the issue and have highlighted the views of their local MPs.
The motion has also prompted a wave of requests from community organisations seeking speakers on the issue. For example, tomorrow I will be in Launceston to speak on marriage equality and other reform issues at a Tasmanian community sector conference.
I’m heartened to see that other states are considering motions similar to Tassie’s. The more states pass them the stronger the message to Capitol Hill will be.

But even more important in the long term is the constructive local debate these motions foster. By removing marriage equality from the distant world of national politics and giving it a local angle, motions in state parliament make the issue more relevant to a wider range of people than ever before.

Rodney Croome

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Speak Now will be launched in October at the following bookstores.

1.  Thursday 13 October. 3.30pm. Coop Bookstore, Southern Cross University campus, Lismore; with Prof. Baden Offord.

2.  Sunday 16 October. 3.30pm. Gleebooks, Sydney, with Justice Michael Kirby, jointly launching Speak Now and his new memoir A Private Life (Allen & Unwin). This event supported by Gleebooks, Allen & Unwin and Clouds of Magellan

RSVP for this event via Gleebooks

3.  Tuesday 18 October. The Avid Reader, West End, Brisbane, with Shelley Argent, national spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

4.  Sunday 30 October. 2pm. Hares and Hyenas Bookshop, Fitzroy; with Prof. Dennis Altman.

Further details will be added in soon

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Having just 'locked down' the contents of Speak Now: Perspectives on same-sex marriage in Australia, blog visitors can now read more about:

>> Contents
>> Contributor profiles

The Speak Now page on the publisher's website has also been set up - with ISBN, RRP and other title details.

We are aiming to 'hit the press' within the next week, and have the book physically available mid to late October - well in time for the Labor Party Conference. This blog will give details of upcoming launches and events.

Contributor profiles

CONTRIBUTORS to Speak Now: Australian perspectives on same-sex marriage (from the 'Contributors' section of the book)

Dennis Altman is Professor of Politics and Director of the Institute for Human Security at Latrobe University and a prominent public intellectual. Among his myriad publications, his groundbreaking book Homosexual: oppression and liberation (1971) influenced the politics of gay liberation across the world.

Dennis Altman laments the loss of the radical critique that was central to the early gay and lesbian movement.

Barbara Baird is Associate Professor and head of women’s studies at Flinders University in South Australia. She has researched the history and contemporary cultural politics of abortion, and changing discourses of sexuality in Australia.

Barbara Baird locates historical precedents for the political and social significance of same-sex partnering, from colonial times up to the present.

Andrew Barr is the first openly gay Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and the first to serve as a Minister in an Australian Government. He is currently Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer of the ACT. His partner, Andrew Toms, works in the rag trade.

Andrew Barr shares the experience of his own partnership ceremony, to provide a sense of the human element in this highly politicised issue.

Michael Carden is a biblical scholar with numerous published essays on the Bible, sexuality and religion, and he is on the editorial board of the e-Journal Bible and Critical Theory. His book, Sodomy: A History of a Christian Biblical Myth, was published by Equinox Publications.

Michael Carden revisits church history to show how the ‘institution’ of marriage evolved and argues for a broadening of recognition to include other kinds of relationships.

Rodney Croome, AM, is an honorary lecturer in sociology at the University of Tasmania and co-author of Why v Why: Gay Marriage. Campaign coordinator of Australian Marriage Equality and spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, Rodney fronted the successful campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania, taking the case to the United Nations.

Linking the current struggle to earlier government controls over who could marry whom, Rodney Croome argues that infringement of the freedom to marry is part of a broader ideological vision in which marriage is manipulated to discriminatory, ideological ends.

Elaine Crump moved to Australia from the midlands of England in 1970. After completing matriculation, she joined the Navy as a radio technician and since then has enjoyed careers in commercial radio, business machine maintenance, computer hardware, and data communications and has postgraduate qualifications in professional accounting.

Elaine’s story about marrying ‘across state lines’ underlines the importance of the social recognition accorded by marriage, rather than ‘civil partnerships’.

Sharon Dane arrived in Australia with her parents at the age of 16. She was awarded a PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Queensland. Her area of research interest is the relationship between social inclusion and psychological well-being. Sharon is currently employed as a social scientist at a leading research organisation.

Sharon Dane details research findings on the types of relationship recognition actually preferred by same-sex attracted people across Australia.

Michelle Dicinoski is a writer of poetry and creative non-fiction which has appeared in journals, newspapers, and anthologies, including The Best Australian Poems, The Australian Literary Review, and Meanjin. Michelle is working on a memoir called Ghost Wife which examines same-sex marriage, belonging, and the ghostly family histories that haunt us.
Michelle Dicinoski provides a personal account of travelling to Canada to marry her US partner in Toronto.

Luke Gahan is studying for a PhD in Sociology at La Trobe University while working part time at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. Luke was the founding National Convenor of Australian Marriage Equality and has remained committed to marriage and parenting equality for same-sex couples.
Luke Gahan’s experience of love, marriage and divorce shows that same-sex couples can face the same difficulties as their opposite-sex counterparts.

Paula Gerber is a senior lecturer at Monash University Law School and a Deputy Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. On the Board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, she is an expert on international human rights law, with a particular focus on same-sex families and children’s rights.

Paula Gerber (and Adiva Sifris) analyse some of the crucial legal issues when same-sex partners are also parents.

Evelyn Gray studied biology at University in the UK and qualified as a primary teacher before coming to Australia in 1971.

Evelyn Gray makes a personal plea for the partnerships of both of her daughters to be treated with equal respect.

Ryan Heath is speechwriter for the Vice President of the European Union, Neelie Kroes, and the most senior Australian to work there. Previously, he was Assistant Director at the UK Cabinet Office, and a political adviser to Peter Garrett and Kevin Rudd. Ryan has written extensively on social issues for Australian and British publications and founded The Gay Marriage Blog in 2010.

As a political aide in Australia, the UK and Europe, Ryan Heath has gained more than a glimpse behind the scenes of public performance and private political realities.

Lynne Hillier is a social psychologist and Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health & Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University. Her research over the last 17 years has focused on the marginalisation of young people, particularly same-sex attracted youth, and the ways that techniques of domination (such as homophobia) can lead to negative health outcomes.

Lynne Hillier’s long-term research, published as the Writing Themselves In reports, has provided unique insights into the health implications of society’s treatment of same-sex attracted youth.

Crusader Hillis and Rowland Thomson own the legendary queer bookshop Hares & Hyenas, which acts as a de facto community centre and referral service for many of its users, supporting the work of transgender, Indigenous, disabled, multicultural and other fringe artists and writers from the queer community.
They have been together for over 30 years but Crusader Hillis asks why you would bother to get married when you have the respect of your family, your friends, your neighbours and your work colleagues.

Walter Jennings runs the Australian operations of a global public relations consultancy. Originally from New Jersey, he has been with his (Italian) Australian partner for more than twenty years and they are raising an adopted (Chinese) child.

Walter Jennings recounts some of the complications of a relationship that has refused to stay within conventional, and national, boundaries.

Tiffany Jones has written for diverse media including LOTL magazine, Sextures, The American Journal of Sexuality Education and—her grandma’s fave—Dolls, Bears and Collectables. She is completing her PhD on constructions of GLBTIQ students in Australian education policy, at the ARCSHS (La Trobe University).

Tiffany’s personal story recalls painful (and comic) memories of a high school crush that led to unexpected but welcome outcomes.

The Hon. Michael Kirby, AC, CMG has had a remarkable national and international career as a distinguished jurist. He came out in Who’s Who in Australia in 1999, naming Johan van Vloten as his long-term partner. While President of the International Commission of Jurists he encouraged that organisation to give more consideration to human sexuality as an aspect of human rights and, as an Anglican, he has expressed disappointment at his church’s stance on gay rights.

Michael Kirby’s illustrious career as a jurist has been informed by his personal experience as a gay man, and we look forward to the publication of his memoirs.

Benjamin Law is a Chinese Australian humorist, noted for his mordant wit. A regular contributor to frankie magazine, to and The Monthly, among others, his collection of personal essays about growing up gay on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, The Family Law, has further expanded his audience.

From Law’s richly comic accounts of life in a distinctly white-bread region of Australia we excerpt his droll account of the awkwardness of being gay in a predominantly ‘straight’ world.

Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon has been a staff member of the NSW Ecumenical Council, minister of the Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney, and National Director for Mission of the Uniting Church. In 1997, she came out publicly as a lesbian. Since retiring she has continued to participate in the struggle of the church and community, in Australia and internationally, to build an inclusive society.

Recognised with many awards over the years for her contribution to the spiritual life of the community, Dorothy McRae-McMahon offers a moving personal testimony.

Victor Marsh is a writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, former television producer and student of comparative religion, who has taught meditation in a dozen or so countries. A research advisor at the University of Queensland, he also teaches writing and cultural studies at Southern Cross University. His critical study of Christopher Isherwood, Mr Isherwood Changes Trains, was published by Clouds of Magellan in 2010.

Paul Martin is Principal Psychologist, Centre for Human Potential, specialising in LGBTI mental health for over twenty years. Paul runs national workshops for psychologists and counsellors on working effectively with gays and lesbians and is an organisational consultant for corporations and government departments.

Paul Martin writes about the insidious effects of shaming, weaving together his personal story of coming to terms with his sexuality and his professional experience as a psychologist.

Alyena Mohummadally and her partner Catherine Roberts are practising lawyers, ostensibly from different sides of a prominent ethnic divide—Alyena is a Pakistani Australian who inspired Catherine to investigate her own Jewish ancestry.

Once vehemently opposed to the very concepts of marriage (a patriarchal institution to be dismantled) and motherhood (see previous brackets) Alyena and Cat are now married and raising a son together.

Chris Morgan is an academic and writer and lives in northern NSW.

Chris Morgan’s personal account of his family network shows how the complexity of lived human relationships simply cannot be contained under a single umbrella.

Wayne Morgan is a senior lecturer at the ANU College of Law. He (with others) instigated the teaching of law and sexuality courses at Melbourne University Law School and now teaches such a course at the ANU. He was a consultant to the Tasmanian Government in the drafting of the Tasmanian civil union legislation. He publishes in the areas of sexuality theory, anti-discrimination and relationship recognition.

Wayne Morgan traces the recognition of same-sex relationship as it developed from the feminist lobbying of the 1980s, through de facto law reform and the current debate, to look beyond the privileged ideal of coupledom.

Rev. Nathan Nettleton is an ordained minister with the Baptist Union of Victoria and has been pastor to the congregation in South Yarra since 1994. He has been engaged in dialogue on the place of homosexual people in the churches since his involvement on the Baptist Union’s 1997 Taskforce on the topic. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and their 13 year old daughter and two dogs.

While Nathan Nettleton does not speak for the wider Baptist church, here he provides a rationale for the equal recognition of same-sex marriages contributing to, rather than undermining, the institution of marriage.

Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli is Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University, Melbourne. Her primary areas of interest are cultural, gender, sexual and family diversity and their various permutations. Twice winner of a Lambda Literary Award, Maria is also an External Faculty Member of Saybrook University, San Francisco, the Honorary Patron of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Victoria, and Founding Member of AGMC Inc (Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council).

Maria Palotta-Chiarolli argues that to widen the framing of marriage to include same-sex couples simply doesn’t go far enough, for simply re-inforcing the unduly privileged status of pair-bonding doesn’t accommodate the true diversity of human partnering.

Kerryn Phelps, AM, was the first female president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) where she fought for many public health and social issues. Known through her work as a health journalist, she and her wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps have worked for legal equality for same-sex relationships since their marriage in New York in 1998. Prof. Phelps was honoured in the 2011 Queens Birthday honours list, being made Member of the Order of Australia for ‘service to medicine, particularly through leadership roles with the Australian Medical Association, to education and community health, and as a general practitioner’.

While initially a somewhat reluctant public spokesperson for same-sex partnerships, Kerryn Phelps has worked long and hard to bring them the equal respect they deserve. Her stirring speech to open the 2011 Mardi Gras in Sydney directly challenges the Prime Minister’s view that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Damien W Riggs is a lecturer in social work at Flinders University. He publishes in the areas of critical race and whiteness studies, gender and sexuality studies, and parenting and family studies (and the intersections of these three areas). Titles include Priscilla, (white) queen of the desert, Becoming parent: Lesbians, gay men, and family, and What about the children! Masculinities, sexualities and hegemony.

Damien Riggs draws our attention to the often-ignored racial dimensions of the national conversation.

Donald Ritchie is a writer and criminologist, living and working in Melbourne. Donald was a finalist in the 2008 Mardi Gras short story competition and had a story published in the Australasian Anthology of Short Stories by Spiny Babbler. He is currently writing a novel.

Donald Ritchie describes an encounter with Customs and Immigration that brought home the inequity of the second-class status accorded same-sex partners.

Wendell Rosevear, OAM, is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of GPs and runs a busy medical practice in Brisbane. Known for his counselling work in prisons, he lobbies nationally to generate understanding about drugs, addiction and recovery, sexual assault, relationships, and suicide prevention.

Wendell Rosevear believes passionately in the value of each person, including those in prison for violent crimes. Here he identifies some fundamental shifts in understanding that promote healing at the personal and social level.

Lulu Shapiro is a former nurse now working in recruitment for the health sector and she also works with the long-term unemployed. Her partner, Jannine Lockyer, a sales and marketing expert representing national and international organisations in development and sales roles, is currently owner-operator of a recruitment agency.

Many people can no longer accept that to be in a same-sex partnership precludes having and raising children. Lulu and Jannine share insights from the real world of a very human family.

Adiva Sifris is a senior lecturer at Monash University Law School who previously practiced in Family Law and she has a particular interest in same-sex parenting. Her publications include the book Children and the Lesbian ‘Homo-nuclear’ family: A Challenge for Australian Family Law in the New Millennium and she co-edited the collection of essays Current Trends in the Regulation of Same-Sex Relationships (2011) with Paula Gerber.

Adiva Sifris and Paula Gerber analyse some of the crucial legal issues when same-sex partners are also parents.

Peter Tatchell is an Australian-born human rights campaigner, based in London. He is coordinator of the Equal Love UK campaign, which in February 2011 filed an application in the European Court of Human Rights to overturn Britain’s twin bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

Peter Tatchell here argues to extend the ‘marriage’ model so that it might embrace a variety of supportive, caring relationships.

Yantra de Vilder is a composer and sound artist who has worked in film, television, radio and advertising for over twenty years. Her eclectic blend of musical talents encompasses composition, arranging, direction, conducting and performance. A versatile collaborator and consultant, Yantra is Creative Director of Labyrinth Studios.

Yantra de Vilder found that a lot of conflicting feelings were stirred up when she decided to tie the knot with her partner, Suzanne.

Zenith Virago is a celebrant, consultant, educator, facilitator, speaker and author who has been working in Byron Bay and beyond for over fifteen years. As a celebrant, she offers support for weddings and commitment ceremonies, and consults on natural and holistic approaches to dying, death and funerals.

Zenith Virago testifies to the blessings that accrue when same-sex partners have their relationship honoured and celebrated before their communities of family and friends.

Kees Waaldijk is Professor of Comparative Sexual Orientation Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Writing about homosexuality and the law for many years, he was responsible for major comparative legal research projects, and involved in influential test cases and legislation on same-sex partnership, parenting, and marriage in the Netherlands and North America.

Kees Waaldijk contributes an important record of the legislative steps taken when governments decide to acknowledge marriage equality.

Deb Wain is a poet, short story writer, freelance writer and marriage celebrant, with a passion for our environment.

When marrying her husband, Deb Wain was shocked to hear that the celebrant was required by law to assert that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.

Tim Wilson is an international public policy analyst who serves as Director of the Intellectual Property and Free Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs. A commentator on TV and radio, he is regularly published in journals and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and The Australian. In 2009 The Australian recognised him as one of the ten emerging leaders of Australian society.

Tim Wilson proposes a new model of recognising unions that would give equal respect to the civil rights claims of same-sex couples wishing to marry, while acknowledging the long history of practices associated with marriage within conventional religious settings.

Tim Wright is a committee member of Australian Marriage Equality and a former convenor of Equal Love. An adviser to Australian Democrats leader Senator Lyn Allison from 2006 to 2008, he interned for US Congressman Dennis Kucinich in 2009. Voted one of Australia’s twenty-five most influential gays and lesbians, he currently works as the Australian director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Tim Wright describes how legislation that cut across the basic principles of equality that he was studying at law school inspired his move into political activism.

Speak Now - Contents

Foreword—The Hon. Michael Kirby, AC, CMG
Love matters: Editor’s introduction—Victor Marsh

Why gay marriage?—Dennis Altman
Historical contexts for a very public Australian lesbian coupling—Barbara Baird
Out in the ACT—Andrew Barr and Anthony Toms
Christianity, marriage, love and friendship—Michael Carden
A history of freedom to marry in Australia—Rodney Croome AM
Married in Canada, living in Oz—Elaine Crump
Not so private lives—Sharon Dane
How to grow a lawn—Michelle Dicinoski
The ins and outs of marriage (and divorce)—Luke Gahan
Make my daughter equal—Evelyn Gray
Stuck on the mezzanine—Ryan Heath
‘On my 50 year anniversary I want a letter from the queen’—Lynne Hillier and Tiffany Jones
Thoughts of a marriage agnostic—Crusader Hillis
Head over falls in love—Walter Jennings
Tying the K(NOT)!—Tiffany Jones
I’m not even sure I really like rainbows—Benjamin Law
‘Are you and Ali married, Grandma?’—Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon
Gathering the pieces—Paul Martin
When worlds, happily, collide—Alyena Mohummadally and Catherine Roberts
Marriage at the edge—Chris Morgan
A brief history of relationship law reform in Australia—Wayne Morgan
Supporting same-sex marriage as a heterosexual, Bible-believing, Baptist Pastor—Rev. Nathan Nettleton
‘Messing up the couples cabinet’—Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli
No more lame excuses—Kerryn Phelps AM
The racial politics of marriage claims—Damien W Riggs
Customs—Donald Ritchie
Love is not a threat—Wendell J Rosevear OAM
Our family—Lulu Shapiro and Jannine Lockyer
It makes no sense: Adoption by same-sex couples in Australia—Adiva Sifris & Paula Gerber
Dear Julia, the public supports gay marriage. Why won’t you?—Peter Tatchell
Greetings from the Isle of Lesbos—Yantra de Vilder
Working as a civil celebrant—Zenith Virago
I got married, some can’t. That’s not fair—Deb Wain
Respecting diversity and rights—Tim Wilson
Love triumphing over fear—Tim Wright


Legal recognition of same-sex couples in the countries of the world: a chronological overview—Kees Waaldijk

Monday, 29 August 2011

Dr Kerryn Phelps speaks now...


Dr Kerryn Phelps, contributor to Speak Now, appeared in a brief debate on marriage equality on the Australian Seven Network's Sunrise morning program, Aug. 30th.

The discussion -- with Australian Christian Lobby spokesperson Jim Wallace promoting one Christian model -- probed the reasons for religious opposition to marriage equality.

Wallace relied heavily on the trope of the 'natural', reminiscent of Pope Benedict XVI's famous diatribe two days before Christmas, 2008, when he tied his campaign against homosexuality to environmentalist causes, calling for a 'human ecology' to protect the species from self-destruction.

The Pope averred that 'saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction' (Reuters 23 Dec 2008). Pointedly ignoring the pervasive deleterious effects on the environment that stem directly from Church teaching, he recommended that humanity needed to 'listen to the language of creation' to understand the intended roles of man and woman.

If the Pope were really drawing his teaching from observing the 'natural world', he would have noticed, along with zoologists, that so-called 'homosexual' acts have been observed among literally hundreds of species.  Such acts are recognised increasingly as normal variations of sexual behaviour.

Check out the book by Bruce Bagemihl, PhD, [Stonewall Inn Edn. 2000] which makes very clear how prevalent homosexual behaviour is a part of natural diversity.  Wallace and the Pope are both deploying a construction that manipulates the trope of the natural world in the service of the ideologies of their respective religions.

Phelps asserted that there are, in fact, religions that support marriage equality, in response to which Wallace invoked a document he had presented to Parliament, which he said had been endorsed by over 50 churchmen from the 'Evangelical, Pentecostal, Catholic and Orthodox divide', averring that 'You can't get broader than that'. Apparently he was unaware that  his 'broad' cohort included only Christian groups and that they were all churchMEN !

Phelps pointed out that in fact many church men have come out in support of the cause and, going beyond the narrowly Christian framing, cited the statement by a Council of Progressive Rabbis who issued this statement earlier 2011:

"We, the members of the Moetzah, the Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand, support marriage equality under Australian law.

"Judaism teaches that all human beings are created betzelem Elohim (Genesis 1:27), in the image of God, and are therefore entitled to full dignity and equality. The Jewish people are all too familiar with discrimination and worse, and we reject it however rationalised.

"Australian law should guarantee equality; marriage being both a religious and a civil status. There is no reason for Australian law to limit or discriminate against the civil or legal rights of any individual or group.

"Therefore, we, the Moetzah, call upon the Australian Government to enact speedily legislation granting full marriage equality."

Revd. Nathan Nettleton, a Baptist pastor in Melbourne, has contributed an essay to Speak Now that argues strongly for same-sex marriage as supportive  of the 'institution of marriage'.  See his piece, titled: 'Supporting Same-Sex marriage as a heterosexual, Bible-believing, Baptist pastor.'