Open Letter to the Socialist Alternative

Dear Socialist Alternative members

I can’t tell you how my heart sank as I watched this banner being erected at the Brisbane Marriage Equality Rally.

Socialist Alternative Banner
I don’t have a great shot. On the right it says “Dear Tone, Stahp ur homophobia or else, sincerely de gayz”
On the left, a depiction of Abbott being hung by the neck using a rainbow noose.

Put simply, Socialist Alternative, if that’s your idea of supporting our cause, then we don’t want or need it, leave us alone.

More disturbing to me is that it really reveals how you see us. You seem to see us as a weapon, a tool to get what you want. The only piece of gay imagery on the whole banner is the rainbow used in the noose.

We are not your weapons, and not your tools. We aren’t the rope you’re going to hang Abbott with, and if you think I’m going to do anything *remotely* like fucking Abbott, you’re totally delirious.

These are *our* rights that you’re toying with. I get that you see them as part of your political theory, for some of you, I know, they are more personal… but they are my, our, everyday life. Our reality you’re playing with and using as a platform. You see it as a left-of-centre thing. I see it as a spectrum of life thing. There are plenty of Liberal-supporting queer and queer-supporting people out there. There are a multitude of people who, like me, actually don’t hate Abbott, they just think he’s wrong, and some of them only think he’s wrong about one or two issues.

Equal Love rallies are peaceful. I will never condone violence against anybody. I will not remain silent while people threaten our prime minister regardless of how I feel about him. I cannot condone actions which will cost LGBTIQ rights the support from the right that we actually need.

So, Socialist Alternative, Take your red wedge and stick it wherever you find it most uncomfortable. I don’t want it, and I reject it.
Sincerely,
Dylan Carmichael.

(This is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organisation I am involved with. I am a member of Equal Love Brisbane, but this statement is not endorsed by or a reflection of their opinion.)

Marriage Equality: the fashion issue of this election

On Saturday in Queen’s Park, a whole bunch of people are going to support the “fashionable” notion of Marriage Equality. This crowd clearly knows how big of a trend it is and wouldn’t be caught dead in anything else. Tony Abbott recently declared that he wouldn’t support “radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”

Equal Love Brisbane, a local well-known group of fashionistas and gay activists, are holding a rally as part of a nationwide campaign to keep Marriage Equality the election issue that it is. And we would like to welcome you to our runway: the streets of Brisbane. Come dressed to impress in your Equality-promoting couture, and sashay through the streets of our city in support of the height of fashion: equal rights for all Australians.

“Tony Abbott’s statement about Marriage Equality? A fashion don’t!”

This election, make sure you stand for someone who thinks human rights are more than a passing fad. Come to Queen’s Park (opposite the Treasury Casino) on Saturday 17th at 1PM and add your voice to the the call. Equality is always in vogue!

The Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/173194766188014/

Marriage Equality Rally 18th May 2013

Brisbane had its Marriage Equality Rally yesterday at Queen’s Park.

With over 1000 people in attendance, we had 7 speakers –

  • Liz Ross, Author and Activist, and marched in the first Mardis Gras in Sydney in 1978
  • Graeme Perrett, Labor Member for Moreton [my apologies, I previously had Graeme down as a Candidate, thanks to Phil Browne for spotting this – twitter @palmboy4444 ]
  • Adam Stone, Greens Candidate
  • Rowan Oost and Rachel Gilmore – Trans* Activists
  • Jake Harrison – a finalist from My Kitchen Rules
  • Kat Henderson – Speaker from Equal Love
And the event was MC’d by Local documentary maker Chad St James and Equal Love’s own Kym Mead

I would dearly love to comment on the speeches, on everything! But I was simply too busy – I was manning the merchandise stall and so many people wanted things – it was all a bit of a blur until it was time to march for me to heft my trusty megaphone and bellow for all I was worth!

“What do we want? Marriage Equality! When do we want it? Now!”
“Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia’s got to go”
“Gillard, Abbott, ALP: We demand equality!”
“Homophobia: No way! We’re going to fight it all the way!”
“Gay, Straight, Black, White: We demand our civil rights!”

About halfway through, we stopped at the corner of Adelaide and Edward Streets and chalked a massive rainbow across the intersection!

Yours truly featured on SBS for 2 seconds in the National/International Marriage Equality story here (at 9:16) and the Brisbane Marriage Equality rally was also covered on Channel 7.

The atmosphere was AMAZING and the crowd marched and some of them danced their way down the streets. I can’t wait for the next one! Although I hope the Bandt/Wilkie bill passes on June 6 and we can raise awareness of other queer community issues!

See you all at the next rally on August 17th – first weekend of the (Official) Election Campaign

[Author’s note – I know some of you might have seen this before I posted the rest – I accidentally hit “Send to blog” early – whoops!]

Death, Marriage, Property, and Funerals

Recently I was alarmed to read a story of an Australian gay couple. I sadly cannot locate the story now but it highlights a part of why Marriage is so important.

The couple (Let’s call them Jack and John, the story mentioned no names) had been together for a number of years.  Eventually, Jack passed away, dying of cancer.  The story goes on to say that within 24 hours of his partner’s demise, John was served with papers asking him to vacate their home.  He was permitted to hold a memorial, but was told in no uncertain terms that he was not to attend the funeral, held in the family’s home state.  Jack’s body was taken away, and the family ignored that John ever had a part in his life, let alone being his partner.

It’s a sad story. I can’t tell you for sure whether this specific version of it has happened here in Australia.  But it’s hardly a unique story – Something very similar happened in America

This is not something that you hear of happening to married couples.  It doesn’t happen to wives, nor to husbands.  There’s this thing called “senior next of kin” which is one of the few things that de facto status does not grant.

According to the State Library of New South Wales

‘Next of kin’ can therefore include lesbian and gay partners. Despite this, if a person in a same-sex relationship dies without leaving a will, their partner’s wishes may be ignored by the family unless the partner can establish that a de facto relationship existed. This can be an important issue for a lesbian or gay person who may want their partner rather than their family to control the funeral arrangements. For this reason, it is especially important for lesbian and gay people to make their wishes clear in a will. Even then the executor is not bound by the directions left in the will. Disputes over ownership of the body or decisions about funeral arrangements are referred to the Supreme Court for hearing. Costs are met by the disputing parties.

Let me break this down: I could be in a loving relationship with a man for 40 years, I could die (I’m selfish, I’d rather be the first to go), having done everything I could legally, and the only way I can ensure that my partner has the right to do with my remains what he believes I would want (which in the course of 40 years, I’ve probably discussed at least once) is to make him the executor of my will – and even this can be challenged. I, fortunately, have a wonderful family and I can’t imagine them doing this to anyone. I know not everyone is so lucky…

Is this a question that straight people contemplate? I don’t think so.  I’ve heard a few people concerned about what will happen to them when they die – which is why they talk to their husbands or wives – but not about whether their family will let their husband/wife *do* what they’re asked to.

Marriage cements the next-of-kin bond and being both senior next-of-kin and executor is much more difficult to challenge.

Join with me and fight for this important right, to name our partners as our next-of-kin 

Stand with me at Queen’s Park at 1PM on the 18th of May – and remember to go to the Facebook event for the Rally for Marriage Equality Brisbane and let us know that you’re going, invite your friends, tweet it, post it on your uni campus, and put it on your workplace notice-board.  Get the word out that it’s happening. The more people who show, the bigger the push for Parliament to pass it.

Rally For Marriage Equality

It’s time! Time to pressure our pollies! Time to remind the nation that it’s still not done! Time to stand and demand a definition of marriage that, like love, is gender-blind! It’s time! Time for marriage equality!

Truth in Advertising

If you’re after a GLBTI-themed post, this is not the article for you…

This year, Campbell Newman and the LNP are talking about serious electoral reform.  Announced on Jan 3, I can’t help but wonder, in my cynicism, if it was meant to fly under the radar because of the Holidays… it didn’t.

Here’s the link to the community consultation page and from there the discussion paper

There are two Parts – one (Part A) is a discussion about the various campaign funding models and campaign expenditure

The other section (Part B) discusses other alterations to the Electoral Act.

I don’t overly care about campaign funding at the moment, but there are some Sections of Part B that I want to devote a little bit of time to (1, 2,5, and 7):

Section 1:Truth in Political Advertising

I’m honestly surprised they had the gall to bring this up.  We have seen outright lies in this government’s campaign: “We will not be making any changes to the laws on those matters,” Mr Newman said when asked about potential changes to surrogacy laws the weekend before the election and then on the very eve of his historic retraction of LGBTIQ couples’ rights, Jarrod Beijie announced the intention to remove access to altruistic surrogacy for same-sex couples.

The paper outlines enforceability and some other reasons as reasons why legislation is not the correct approach:

it should be up to voters to judge the veracity of claims made in political advertising, just as they judge the veracity of claims made in commercial advertising;

In fact, under federal law (The Australian Consumer Law, Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, Part 2, S18) “A person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.”

We do not (or should not have to) judge the veracity of commercial claims at all.

regulation may lead to an increase in nuisance claims by voters or candidates seeking to prevent the publication of an opposition advertisement;

Political advertising campaigns might need to be more carefully worded, and provided sufficient documentation is kept about where facts underpinning a particular statement came from, (Something academics have been doing for years, these should be standard practice anyway)

the neutrality and impartiality of the ECQ could be compromised if it is required to rule on what will be a highly vexed and publicised political issue;

Much like the Crimes and Misconduct Commission could be.  Introduce some limits – require “factual statements” to have verifiable facts. In instances where the truth is not known and cannot be ascertained, that might be reasonable to give as a victory to the defendant

it would be difficult to provide a prompt response to complaints, particularly on polling day.

Well yes it would.  Perhaps a requirement that complaints be lodged no later than x days before polling day, and no new advertising be aired/distributed any later than y days before that.

This section also discusses whether “advertising” should be extended to mean public statements and the like.

QLDers are seeing now just how important it is to be able to trust what party leaders have said before the election.

Section 2: How to Vote Cards

I’m from Tasmania, so when I rocked up to the QLD booths, I was shocked at being harassed and harangued by political harpies of every colour and stripe. It was confronting, and it was so *wasteful*.

In Tasmania, we apparently consider people smart enough to make up their own minds on this topic and to follow basic instructions.  If you haven’t got your message across by polling day, then tough luck sunshine! This made voting relatively pleasant and painless compared to my experience in QLD elections…

I should *not* have to explain my voting patterns to people when I refuse their “how to vote” card.  I’m confident enough to say “I’m gay, and your suggested candidates want to repeal my rights, so I wouldn’t vote for them in a million years.” I’d swear those people are paid by the number of flyers they go through… (and yes, I know they’re volunteers)

And even with that battle, I came to the Polling place with heaps of paper in my hand – none of it asked for, wanted, or even useful to me. How many trees were destroyed to go straight into the bin?

I don’t like HtV Cards. I also think that there should be a requirement that HtV cards are not misleading and should be registered and approved by the ECQ before they are due to be disseminated.

Section 7: Compulsory Voting

This section talks about removing compulsory voting. Frankly, the amount spent in those countries where voting is optional just in getting people to the polls is obscene.

I actually agree with most of the arguments outlined,  both for and against compulsory voting.  But I do have some caveats to my agreement:

it is undemocratic to force people to vote – in democracies such as the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, voters have the choice;

This would be the one I disagree with the most, particularly in light of the “the voter isn’t compelled to vote for anyone as it is a secret ballot” – they are completely at liberty to cast an informal vote – they must simply make the conscious decision that they do not want to vote.

it may increase both the number of informal votes and “donkey votes”;

I agree – it does increase both.  I don’t understand why this is problematic.  Actually, for Donkey Votes, I do see the problem, but this problem is easily rectified with randomised packs of ballot papers (each packet is printed with its own order) thus ensuring that donkey voting doesn’t introduce systematic bias into the system.

it increases the number of safe, single-member electorates – political parties then concentrate on the more marginal electorates;

Yep

resources must be allocated to determine whether those who failed to vote have “valid and sufficient” reasons.

Isn’t that why we fine people – at least partly to cover the costs of administering these laws?

Please make your submissions to the community consultation outlining your views on these important topics. Links at the top of the article…

Queer Rights: have we become a One-topic wonder?

One thing I’ve been grappling with throughout organising GMER is – have we, the GLBTIQ community, really become a one-point group?  We have Marriage Equality rallies now, to the exclusion of almost any protest over anything else, it seems.

How odd, coming from someone who organised a ME rally himself!?

I talk a lot about ME, particularly on this blog.  But I also talk sometimes about other issues that I feel are of import to the community.  My goal with this article is not condemnation, not mudslinging, and not to detract from the importance of ME or deter support for it – but it is supposed to provoke some thought, and hopefully some responses as to how we can manage the multiple issues the Australian LGBTIQ community face.

Why aren’t we, as Australians, up in arms about the ridiculous and archaic state of Queensland’s age of consent laws?  or the Gay Panic Defence?

Where is the groundswell support for access to surrogacy across the nation and why is there no national day of action as a  statement of disgust at the Newman surrogacy rollback?

Where do we march for LGBTIQ social infrastructure services (like Tasmania’s Working It Out) which are missing in so many regional areas?

Where are we standing in solidarity, holding a vigil dressed in green for TDOR?  Where are our voices for Intersex people’s lack of adequate inclusion in the anti-discrimination act?

Why aren’t we pushing hard for a census question on sexuality or gender identity?  

None of this is to say that Marriage Equality isn’t important.  It is.  And it’s a battle that needs to be fought and won, and fought now.  What I’m left wondering, I guess, is what happens to the other important GLBTIQ issues that are getting little-to-no air time?  I always say to opponents of Marriage Equality who say “Don’t we have more important things to think about/deal with/do?” that “We’re clever people, and can deal with multiple issues at the same time.”  But are we?  Can we?  I think the answer to those is “yes.” Do we?  That I’m not so sure about – particularly in QLD we have some serious problems that Marriage Equality is not likely to fix, yet we seem to focus a huge amount of time on it.

Is it because it’s a battle we feel we can win, where others feel much more difficult?  

Is it because Marriage Equality affects most Queer Australians, where the other issues are more localised?  

Is it because Marriage Equality has an easily identifiable goal where other problems are more ethereal and harder to determine when “we’ve got there”?

Is it because we’ve started on Marriage Equality, and we don’t want to divide the focus?

Talk to me! If you can, do it on the blog so that everybody gets to see the whole conversation – otherwise things get fragmented across multiple sites and posts…  Tell me why you think this is, and how we can work to campaign more effectively on more fronts?

This is the Caped Queersader, signing off!

eThankfulness 26 Nov 2012

I am thankful:

For amazing Gladstonites who have been standing up and refusing to shop at a store whose owner responded in a very negative  (homophobic) way to the Gladstone Marriage Equality Rally flyer when I asked him to put it up.  I’ve spoken to him since the incident, and he has apologised profusely, and asked how he can “make this right”.  I’ve suggested that I’m really not sure, but that posting an apology to GLBTIQ Gladstone might be an appropriate starting point.  at 3PM I pointed him towards the group, and I’m still waiting to get a request to join and post from him.  If another 24 hours pass and I haven’t heard from him again, I’ll be letting you know who it is.  I have my suspicions, but I think his apology to me is a reaction to the dead zone that the store has become.

I am grateful – to new housemate/landlord M who offered me a pet-friendly room when I announced that my house had sold.

I am grateful for the many well-wishes I’ve received from people over my impending move

I am thankful that the Rally went off with only a couple of minor hitches

I am so grateful to the Gladstone Observer for their continued coverage of the GMER – There was a full-page photo essay in the weekend observer documenting it!

I am also grateful to the Observer for having selected me as a winner in their firefighter fantasy competition.  Free firefighter 2013 calendar? Don’t mind if I do!

I am grateful, yet again, for the fantastic work friends that I have and will miss sorely when I leave Gladstone.  You’d all better let me know when you’re in Brisbane so we can do coffee or something, y’hear?

I am still overwhelmingly grateful to the population of Gladstone who made the GMER into what it was, and for the people who have started organising some once-a-month events to provide some organised GLBTIQ community here!  You guys rock!

Seriously, if you’re in Gladstone and want to meet other GLBTIQ people, check out GLBTIQ Gladstone – apart from being administered by the caped queersader, there are some very cool things going on there, including some story-sharing, coffees, picnics, and more!

Dylan from Gladstone, grateful for another week!