Friday, March 11, 2005

Wentwerff

...Is my federal electorate, the very effluent inner east bit of Sydney that stretches from Darling Point to Bondi. There was talk at the last election of ALP winning the seat from the Libs for the first time ever due to the then-Independent (read: shafted ex-Lib) sitting member splitting the conservative vote, not to mention those pesky doctors' wives. Didn't happen, instead we got Mr Lucy Turnbull.

Here's some random corro I've had with MT, which to me shows he's not so much resistant to same-sex couple rights, just ignorant of the issues. I hope I've educated him just a little and that he might even join the ranks of those apparently restless moderate Libs agitating for positive social reform. We can but dream...

Summary: Malcolm sends QP his Wentworth newsletter electronically.

QP's reply: Mr Turnbull,

Thank you for sending me your monthly newsletter.

Is it still your position to support your government's continued denial of same-sex couples in long-term relationships and refusal to offer any kind of positive reforms and/or formal legal recognition of those relationships (eg civil unions)?

If so, I would appreciate if you removed my name from your mailing list, as I will have little interest in voting for you, let alone reading your newsletter.

Thanks,

Sam



MT: Dear Sam,

I have no object to legal recognition of same-sex relationships. I don't support amending the Commonwealth Constitution to redefine matrimony as including same sex relationships. Such an amendment would be crushingly defeated in any event. My own view is that those supporting a fairer deal for gays would be better advised to forget about "marriage" and concentrate on ensuring that same sex unions have the same entitlements in other areas (health, super etc) as married couples do. The Federal Government has made a number of changes to super to address this issue already, but if you can identify other areas of apparent discrimination please let me know. The Commonwealth Parliament does not have the power to legislate for same sex unions, but the States certainly do and you should lobby them.

all the best

Malcolm



QP: Malcolm,

In reply to your request of identifying where same-sex couples are still discriminated against federally, I draw your attention to this posting on Rodney Croome's website -
http://www.rodneycroome.id.au/comments?id=1557_0_1_0_C - showing how your government is already reneging on its own promise to extend superannuation rights for same-sex couples.

Other federal areas of "apparent" discrimination that immediately come to mind include:

- Centrelink - same-sex couples are denied for the purposes of receiving various student/welfare payments (which, granted, can be beneficial as two people in this relationship can claim independently, but I'm sure we'd give up this "bonus" were the government to take our relationships seriously);

- Taxation - same sex partners cannot be claimed as dependents for taxation purposes. Nor can our partner’s income be counted in the few areas where household rather than individual income is counted – for example for purposes such as the Medicare levy and medical expense rebates.

- Defence forces - I'm sure you're aware of the case of the man who was denied a pension after his
partner of 37 years who served in the armed forces died (and yes, I realise that was because strictly speaking he wasn't a "widow", but I'm sure your government could think outside the square here);

- Anti-discrimination legislation - does not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexuality;

- Also Immigration, Health, Federal worker's compensation and parenting/family law. For more on these I draw your attention to the NSW GLRL fact sheet at
http://www.glrl.org.au/publications/fact_sheets/Federal_discrimination.html

At no point in my original email did I mention gay marriage, so you don't need to worry about "amending the Commonwealth Constitution to redefine matrimony as including same sex relationships" as it's very clear that gay marriages will not be happening in Australia for a very long time to come (even though Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, parts of the US, Spain and South Africa do not find this concept so terrifying).

What I would like to see is a similar form of civil unions as introduced in the UK or France. I'm quite sure such a union could be introduced without having to re-define the Constitution.

I thank you for taking the time to reply in person to my email. You have shown a lot more goodwill than many of your colleagues.

Cheers,

Sam



MT: Thanks Sam, I will follow up all of these points. On the gay marriage point, it is just not a battle that is worth fighting. The referendum results in the States that put the question on the ballot in the US last November were very telling. I think you agree; better to concentrate on substantive equity not semantics.

all the best

malcolm

4 Comments:

At 15/3/05 3:12 pm, Blogger DREADNOUGHT said...

Sam! Your tone during this volley demonstrates more than a little arrogance mate which stands in sharp contrast to Turbull's surprising and refreshing grace.

I especially like his last sentence re: semantics.

Turbull for Poof Minister!

 
At 15/3/05 4:54 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Dread: Well you labelling my writing arrogant reminds me of the time Bette Davis called Joan Crawford a "bitch" - pot calling the kettle, really. However, I agree with you that Turnbull did show grace, and as you will see I acknowledged his quick and apparently sincere response.

Now we see if he will actually "follow up" anything (I'm doubtful, but not ruling it out).

PS - Downer is a far more obvious Poof Minister candidate. The poor thing's camper than a row of pink frillies on a good day :-)

 
At 16/3/05 1:16 pm, Anonymous John Kloprogge said...

You go, QP!

Your correspondence with MT was fantastic: to the point, accurate, while still respectful.

But remember, even though he says "gay marriage ... is just not a battle that is worth fighting", it IS! It so is. Although it seems like a dream now, it is inevitable that attitudes will change and in a few years, a majority of Australians will support gay marriage (provided we keep campaigning for it). Look at Spain's reversal in attitudes.

MT is just saying that because he knows gay marriage DOES have a future (but only over this Government's dead body), and that he'd get lynched by his collegues to suggest otherwise.

MT knows that, even if he agrees with, or comes to agree with gay marriage, there is no room for that sort of attitude within this Government. So he is desperately trying to play it down so he can maintain the power of his party and thereby maintain his position.

Keep up the good work!

 
At 16/3/05 1:56 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Thanks for the kind words, John.

I guess I'm a bit jaded with gay marriage. Even though Australia likes to think of itself as a relaxed, "she'll be right mate" sort of country, there are some areas - such as gay marriage - where its ultra-conservative fangs come out. And with the undeniable rise of evangelical fundamentalism and its political front, there will be some very powerful and influential opponents.

If we go a bit more "softly softly", get through some kind of civil union scheme, then marriage as the next logical step would be (I believe) easier to argue. It's not to say I've stopped supporting the principle of gay marriage; I guess what happened here last year (and, as MT points out, in the country that our government does nothing but copy) was very-opening to the (im)practicalities of achieving same-sex marriage.

 

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