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

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

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

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