Help #ChangeAustralia for the better

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, until death do us part.” Extending the boundaries to include same-sex couples doesn’t weaken this definition of marriage – It reinforces it.

Welcome to From the Closet to the Aisle, a project aimed at overcoming marriage inequality and towards the recognition of same-sex marriage in Australia. Here, we believe in beating this ongoing issue by educating, supporting and debunking the misconceptions associated with gay marriage. Together, we can take action and help achieve marital recognition for gay and lesbian couples!

How?
– Join the conversation on social media by hashtaging #ChangeAustralia
– Share your comments, experiences, opinions and ideas with us
– Take action! Sign the petition to help make marriage a reality for all Australians.

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Remember, love doesn’t discriminate and neither should Australia. 

LGBT Love Stories throughout History

The true, the intense and the turbulent LGBT relationships of the ages for LGBT History Month.

Believe it or not, but homosexuality has always been apart of society, with marriage itself being defined and redefined, just as civilization evolves and develops. LGBT people can be found throughout history, and the stereotypes about them have been around for just as long.

There is even evidence to suggest that same-sex marriages were celebrated throughout history in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as areas of China and other parts of Europe!

So with October being LGBT history month, we thought it would be an ideal time to debunk the widely held myth that “same-sex marriages and relationships are a recent invention” and at the same time celebrate LGBT love throughout history…

Khnumhotep & Niankhkhnum

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Image: TourEgypt

Found buried together in an intimate, loving embrace, Khnumhotep & Niankhkhnum were Egyptian servants (manicurists to the royal court) living around 2400 BC. This form of burial was discovered in 1964, and was initially a puzzle to scholars and historians, due to the fact that this type of funeral was usually only reserved for married couples.

Early examination referred to the couple as brothers or relatives, however with reanalysis in the 1990’s, egyptologists concluded them to be a romantic couple. In some hieroglyphs, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep’s names are strung together in a way that is translated to mean “joined in life and in death.”

 

Hadrian & Antinous

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Image: BrtishMuseum

Being the first leader of Rome to openly announce his sexuality, Emperor Hadrian took the throne of Rome in 117AD with a 13 year old wife (ceremonially married for political purposes). However, his true love was with younger Antinous, who accompanied the emperor as his closest confidant from 128AD.

Sexual relationships between older and younger men were common in ancient Rome, however, it was expected that the older man would cease the relationship once his younger lover reached manhood. However, the emperor maintained the relationship well past this period and consequently, Antinous downed under mysterious circumstances.

Harian was so inconsolable, that he remained in official mourning for over a week and filled his home with statues of Antinous, as well as naming stars and flowers after him.

Vita Sackville-West & Violet Trefusis

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Image: BrainPickings

English author Vita fell in love with writer Violet during a period when LGBT pride was a laughable concept, but their relationship remained and became one of the most intense and turbulent affairs in literary history.

Both women had been friends since childhood, and began forming intense romantic bonds during adolescence, with it eventually turning into a relationship in their twenties. Despite both women being married to men, since 1918 the two ran off together several times to France, where Vita would dress as a man to avoid public attention.

Unfortunately pressure from their families, society gossip and Vita’s affairs put a strain on their relationship, however it was learning that Violet was still having sexual relations with her husband that ended their love.

Gertrude Stein & Alice Toklas

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Image: HereElseWhere

Gertrude met her life partner, Alice, on Toklas’ first day in Paris in 1907. Stein was an American writer, mentor and art collector, and soon after the two met they became constant companions. They also had a salon together which attracted some of the greatest artists, writers and thinkers of Europe and America, including Picasso, Hemingway, Thorton Wilder and Matisse.

Being another rare example of a proud LGBT couple in a time where discrimination and bigotry was eminent, the two remained deeply devoted to each other for forty years until Stein’s death in 1946. In 1980, a locked cabinet at Yale University revealed hundreds of love letters the two had written to each other over the period of their relationship.

Benjamin Britten & Peter Pears

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Image: HuffingtonPost

Colleagues, mutual muses and lifelong partners Benjamin and Peter were two musicians who met in 1934. Both being extremely talented, Britten was limited by his success due to being openly gay and a pacifist (however is now considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century).

Following Britten’s heart surgery in 1974, the composer wrote to his lover; “My darling heart (perhaps an unfortunate phrase, but I can’t use any other).. I do love you so terribly, not only glorious you, but your singing… what have I done to deserve such an artist and man to write for?… I love you, I love you, I love you.” Written in a desperate state of health, this beautiful love letter was written with Benjamin’s determination to live long enough to see Peter one more time.

The two are now buried side by side at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Suffolk. The Red house in Aldeburgh, where the couple lived and worked for twenty years, is now home to the Britten-Pears Foundation, established to promote their musical legacy, which was made a national landmark this year.

As you can see, same-sex relationships have been a fundamental human right since the dawn of time, and has been apart of society throughout history. With support for LGBT equality increasing across the world-wide political spectrum, Australia needs to jump on the bandwagon.

You can help make same-sex marriage a reality for all Australians by signing the petition here!

EJ.

Crikey! Australia moves towards Division, Discord & Dissent

“You don’t use a plebicite on emotional issues because you’ll only divide and upset the community.”

As you may now know, a nationwide plebiscite on marriage equality will be held on the 11th of February 2017, but did you also know that the federal government has the power to enact marriage equality more promptly than a national poll due to a highly criticized High Court constitutional decision in 2013?

So… if we were to actually have this plebiscite, how might it play out? Some believe it will be harmful to many LGBT individuals, others believe a vote is required to gauge the opinions of all Australian citizens, and others are more concerned about the significant amount of money (over $160 mill) being used towards a plebiscite and its yes and no campaigns rather than for public education, community services, and healthcare.

So before you turn to the person next to you and argue that a plebiscite is the only way to go, let’s take a look at the 3 previous plebiscites in Australian history and how they turned out…

Our first plebiscite on conscription took place a century ago in 1916-17. It’s remembered as awfully dividing families and communities, with people also suffering verbal abuse and being attacked for not supporting conscription. Unhealthy amounts of propaganda was also involved, with the government using their inflated wartime power to arrest opponents of conscription.

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What happened next? Well in 1917 many large rallies and public meetings took place across Australia, including 60,000 women promoted by the United Women’s No-Conscription Committee who gathered in Melbourne’s Swanston Street and blocked roads for an hour.

In the end, the pro-conscription vote was only narrowly defeated (51.61%). Not only that, but the Prime Minister Billy Hughes’ cabinet imploded, resulting in him leaving the Labour Party and forming a coalition of conservatives, which is known today as the Nationalist party of Australia.

If the dissolution of a political party following a decisive plebiscite doesn’t deter Malcolm Turnbull from implementing a similar poll himself… then what will?

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In 1977 the application of plebiscites moved from sending young boys into senseless, life-threatening fights on the Western Front to ‘What’s your favourite song?’ The national anthem up until this point was God Save the Queen, however, there was a debate to replace it with a more ‘Australian’ song.

As a result, the nation was, you guessed it… divided. Some wanted Advance Australia Fair, other preferred the Song of Australia (that no one really knows apart from South Australia) and others wanted Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda. There was also debate over whether Waltzing Matilda’s lyrics about robbery and suicide was appropriate for a national anthem. Not only this, but the much loved song was copyrighted by Banjo Patterson’s family, and a five-figure sum was the cost for the government to buy the song outright!

Soon after, the plebiscite was held, with the majority of the nation voting for Advance Australia fair, (South Australia mainly voted for the Song of Australia (surprise!), and the ACT largely voted for a suicidal hobo who evaded cops).

Many State Governments, RSL’s and other organizations also argued that “a national anthem is suppose to be a symbol of national unity; in Australia, it has become a focus for division, discord and dissent.”

There was also rumours that the government attempted to stitch up the result by planning to provide $150,000 towards the advertising of God Save the Queen and placing this song on the top of the ballot paper.

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Despite the large majority supporting Advance Australia Fair, it still took another seven years before the government actually implemented it as the national anthem!

So why don’t we use plebiscites? Because people remember the controversies of previous polls, the violence and hate that stemmed from it, as well as the long period it takes the government to actually implement the result once a the poll has been conducted.

Division, discord and dissent is not the Australian way, and as Dr Stephan Petrow has said; “You don’t use a plebicite on emotional issues because you’ll only divide and upset the community.”

And this firey debate on same-sex marriage is anything but emotionless. So make sure you help Australia towards a free parliament vote, not another plebiscite! Click here for more.

EJ

Get on board with Facebook’s #LoveIs Letter

There’s a new trend taking to Facebook over the last couple of days to help Australian’s take action and raise awareness against the continued discrimination faced by the LGBT community.

So, what is it?

The #LoveIs Letter circulates between friends and family, making its way through different social circles as a way to bring the ongoing, cruel and often violent discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenders back into the spot light. As an extension of the current debate for same-sex marriage, the letter raises concern about the issue and informs people that the legalisation of same-sex marriage will help demolish this bigotry.

How does it work? 

It’s as simple as A,B,C! Participants take action by spreading the letter through a Facebook status which asks them to attach a photo that finishes the sentence “#LoveIs___” and tag friends to do the same…

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How do I become part of the Trend? 

You don’t have to be tagged to spread the love! Just copy and paste the below text and follow the instructions.

Let’s make a change…

118,962 Aussies marry each year, but there are still over 35,000 couples who can’t.

Such discrimination saw 1,798 murders across 62 countries between 2008 and 2015. That’s one LGBT killing every two days! The 2016 Orlando massacre killed 49 people and injured 53 others, making it the worse mass shooting in U.S history.

1 in 4 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people have experienced physical or verbal abuse in the last 3 years. This may not be you, but it could be a friend, family or someone you know.

Let’s end LGBT discrimination by showing others that it should be ok to love and to marry, no matter what. Help #ChangeAustralia by taking a step towards marriage equality.

Because love knows no gender, and neither should marriage.

Spread the love by posting this as your status and attaching a photo that finishes the sentence: “#LoveIs ___________.”

Tag 4 mates to do the same!

EJ

Myth 4: Marriage is about procreation & LGBT couples can’t have kids, so they shouldn’t marry

The early Christians had discussed whether marriage between a man and a woman should be endorsed, and despite many being against such matrimony, it was finally recognized under the church as a sacrament for the sole purpose of procreation.

So the question is, should we disallow straight couples from marriage if they are infertile or don’t want children? And does adoption count? Because about 30% of female same-sex couples and about 15% of male same-sex couples are currently raising children.

Many opposite-sex couples decide to tie the knot to provide their children with the legal security, stability and social recognition that comes with having married parents. Similarly to any other couple, gay individuals can be exceptional parents, with adoption and fostering agencies even stating that gay couple’s understanding of bigotry and prejudice gives them additional strength when helping vulnerable children who have been through tough periods in their life.

Also, the 2011 census showed 6,300 children living in same-sex couple families. Although this only makes up for 1000 of all children in couple families, it is definitely increasing, and with the legalisation of same-sex marriage, such legal and social benefits will flow to the children of gay and lesbian couples as well as to the couples themselves.

Over 30 years of research reveal that children who are raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated “resilience with regard to social, psychological and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities,” as well as social stigma. Many studies have proven that a children’s well-being is affected primarily by the positive relationship they have with their parents, their parent’s sense of competency and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family rather than the parent’s gender or sexual orientation.

So stating that gay and lesbians are unable to have kids and therefore shouldn’t be recognised under this institution is, without a doubt, unjust.

And due to the fact that all children benefit from being part of a stable, loving family, this right and opportunity should also be extended to all adopted children, right?

EJ

Saying “Same-sex couples already have equal rights” is a lie…

“To be treated like I meant nothing to him, and was not even a part of his life, left me feeling like a part of my soul has been crushed into dust.”

Actually, last time we checked the rights and responsibilities offered to civil partnerships were significantly different to those of a married couple.

“When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 33,700 same-sex couples living in Australia. That means every 1 in 29 people that you know or meet identify their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual. Currently, those 1 in 29 individuals who are in a loving same-sex relationships have to live together for a certain period of time before they are considered a de facto couple and given any legal rights.

Sure in 2008, Australian legislation underwent a number of reforms to implement equal entitlements for same-sex couples in the areas of employment, superannuation, compensation, and social security, but when it comes to marital entitlements such as hospital visitation rights, estate inheritance and not to mention marriage itself, there are still many inequalities.

Still convinced that a civil partnership is good enough?

Late last year, Ben Jago struggled with the recognition of his same-sex relationship after his partner of five years, Nathan, committed suicide in their Hobart home. Despite joint bank accounts, joint tax returns, a shared property and even plans to marry in New Zealand this year, Ben was refused as next of kin and was considered simply Nathan’s ‘room mate’ by police.

“I lost my soulmate and was then left feeling worthless…”

Ben went through something no one else should ever have to endure, not only did he go through the traumatic event of losing his partner, but their relationship was ignored and deemed non-existent by state authorities.

Mr Jago was refused custody of Nathan’s body, had no say in funeral arrangements and was told by Nathan’s family members that he would only be allowed to attend the funeral if he was to sit at the back and say nothing.

“To be treated like I meant nothing to him, and was not even a part of his life, left me feeling like a part of my soul has been crushed into dust.”

Remember, separate but equal is never completely equal. Overcoming the issue of same sex marriage means equality to ALL citizens.

See Ben’s full interview here.

EJ

MYTH 3: Same-sex marriage opens the doors to other marriages, like a woman marrying their cat.

Many opposers to same-sex marriage argue that legalising this form of marriage will open the doors to polygamy, beastiality and incest.

One common argument from those that oppose same-sex marriage is that, if Australia were to legalise gay marriage, the nation will be one step closer to accepting polygamy, incest, objectophilia and beastiality.

However, have polygamists and other types of unconventional relationship advocates ever used same-sex marriage to justify their own marriage perspectives? The answer is no.

That’s because when discussing gay marriage, it’s clear that we are speaking about a legal agreement between two consenting adults, and not the idea of marriages or relationships between an adult and multiple other adults, an adult and a child, an adult and an animal, or even an adult and an inanimate object.

The fact is that the Australian Marriage Act currently states that matrimony is defined as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Removing such a statement to include the marriage of same-sex couples will not open the doors to those wanting to marry something other than another human being. Also with the ability to divorce and, not to mention, the increasing rate of marriage dissolutions, if the section regarding “entered into for life” is no longer relevant and has been altered to keep up to date with contemporary society, then how come the section “the exclusion of all others” has not?

We are all arguing for one issue: to overcome and accept same-sex marriage, which will have no effect and will create no precedents for polygamous, incestuous or any other such relationships, just like it will have no affect on heterosexual marriages.

Plus, most animals don’t have opposable thumbs, which means they can’t sign marriage contracts, and even if they do… well, they can’t consent to it anyway.

EJ

Join The Petition – No Mr Turnbull, We Don’t Want A Plebiscite!

An Australian plebiscite on gay marriage is expensive, pointless, and will give opposers the opportunity to run hate campaigns. Say no to a plebiscite and sign the petition today.

The current state of support for same-sex marriage sees Australia moving closer to a pointless, divisive plebiscite.

This public vote will cost over $160 million in tax payer money, provide a platform for hate campaigns, damage the mental health of many young LGBT individuals, and will not bind parliament to the outcome.

Many MP’s have also confirmed that they will ignore the results of a successful same-sex marriage plebiscite anyway.

Parliament has the power to enact marriage equality now, so why are we wasting time and money on something that the government will ignore?

Sign the petition today and say NO to having a plebiscite!

Tell Mr Turnbull, there’s a better way.

EJ

Rio Olympics Prove Sexuality Doesn’t Matter

The Rio Olympics are seriously kicking off…

First, we witnessed a marriage proposal on field (which could possibly be the most romantic thing we’ve ever seen at the games), where Brazilian woman’s rugby sevens player Isadora Cerullo was proposed to by her long-term girlfriend and manager, Marjorie Enya. Enya took centre stage at Deodoro stadium following her girlfriend’s rugby finals with heart shaped balloons, making a heart warming speech before asking her girlfriend to marry her.

Enya said; “She is the love of my life. The Olympic Games can look like a closure but, for me, it’s starting a new life with someone.. I wanted to show people that love wins.”
(Find the full article by The Guardian here).

Not only this, but Nike has recently aired it’s first ever advertisement with a Transgender athlete. Chris Mosier, being the first transgender athlete to make the US men’s Olympic team, has become Nike’s newest ambassador in their most recent mass television advertisement.

Mosier says “Everything that I’ve done in the last five, six years since I started to transition, has been with [a] ‘Just Do It’ mindset.” As part of Nike’s Unlimited Campaign, this duathlete has definitely ‘just done it,’ having broken through the invisible glass wall to compete at an international level in a sport he truly loves…

According to Outsports, there are at least 45 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex athletes competing in Rio this year and there are several athletes taking part in the Paralympics as well!

There’s no doubt that the Rio Olympic Games are breaking boundaries, not only in world records, but also in bringing further acceptance of individuals that identify themselves as something other than heterosexual!

You can be part of the solution. Make a change and let love win by joining #TeamEquality here!

EJ

Myth 2: Gay sex is unnatural

Bottleneck dolphins are well known for forming homosexual pairing bonds which often last for life…

People who use this mythologically based argument obviously shows a considerable ignorance of the animal kingdom. In reality, many animals engage in homosexual behaviour. In fact, among the 1500 species whose behaviours have been studied extensively by socio-biologists and researchers over the years, all species have shown signs of homosexual activity.

And it isn’t one offs – or as we call ‘one night stands’ – either.

This same-sex behaviour ranges from occasional displays of love and affection to life long pairing bonds where sex, adoption, raising orphans and even rejections of potential heterosexual partners have been documented. For example, bottleneck dolphins are well known for forming homosexual pairing bonds which often last for life.

It is common, and thus has evolutionary significance not only to human beings but also to the whole animal kingdom.

So why are we prohibiting something so natural?

EJ

Apple’s new emoji’s are so gay its beautiful!

This year, Apple has taken a stance in the federal Government’s lead up to the upcoming plebiscite, releasing a statement of support and posting their logo on the Australian Marriage Equality website!

Not only this, but the latest Apple operating systems update includes new emoji’s as a way to throw their weight behind greater gender diversity. This includes more female gendered sport emojis, male versions of dancers, as well as a rainbow flag and many LGBT diverse characters.

The company said; “Apple is working closely with the Unicode Consortium to ensure popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere.”

And now you’re thinking well, how many other companies support this non-discriminatory view of matrimony?

Many, actually.

Corporations, unions, community groups, local governments, churches and even government agencies (including the Australian Bureau of Statistics which included same-sex couples in the 2011 and 2016 National Census) now recognize and support same-sex marriage in Australia.

American Express, Telstra, ANZ, Australian Super, QANTAS, Commonwealth Bank, Foxtel, Holden, Kmart, NRMA and MacDonald’s are only a hand full of the long list of supporting Australian and inernational companies (for the full list click here!).

So don’t just sit there and twiddle your thumbs… Take individual action and make love a reality for all Australians! Check out #TeamEquality for the more information.

EJ