Mmm, Man Candy
So, a little less (political) conversation, a little more (hot boy pic) action.
Today's QP Lazy Friday Afternoon Man Candy posting is the fairly scrumptious Eric Balfour:
You may remember him from such quality movies as Can't Hardly Wait, America's Sweethearts and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I spotted Eric last week in a cameo role in the definitive chick flick's chick chick flick, In Her Shoes. Without giving too much away, he's the one who gets a little carried away partying with Cameron Diaz's character. Frankly, I don't understand why any woman, ever, in the history of the universe, would say no to him, but I guess that's why she's only a fictional character in a movie.
Honestly, would you say no to this:
Shush. Don't be contrary.
Anyway, when I spotted him he immediately had that "I know this dude but for the life of me can't remember from where" factor. I've never seen any of the abovementioned films so I IMDB'd his butt for TV credits. And since I also don't watch 24 I knew it wasn't there. So it must have been his cameo in Buffy that left such such a hole in my heart. And thankfully, a very considerate friend bought me the entire 1st season of Six Feet Under, his other big TV credit, so there's plenty of hours ahead of wholesome Eric nutrition.
He's also the lead singer of a band called "Fredalba". And, like all the greatest beings in the world, he's a Taurean. Talk about the perfect package!
Shush. Don't be filthy.
Howard is Still Not our Playmate
I feel obliged to nip a certain misperception in the bud before any more people get the wrong impression.
Having read this posting
from somebody who is obviously an intelligent and perceptive blogger I can appreciate why some people might now believe, with the recent Defence Force reforms
for queer servicemen and women, that the Howard government is in fact a friend to same-sex couples and that, contrary to lefty/socialist propaganda, reform can be achieved under this government through productive open channels of communication.
This is just not the case.
Let's look a little more closely at some of the myths.1. Australia allows a same-sex partner of an Australian resident or citizen to emigrate here.
True, but at the same time the Immigration Department will not issue same-sex partners residency visas because such partners are not recognised as family. So bad luck if your partner plans to be here working for only a few years, you won't be joining him or her unless you apply for a 12-month visitor's visa...that must be renewed overseas...and does not allow you to work here yourself.2. The government granted same-sex couples access to one another's superannuation as a partial concession to the marriage ban.
Not exactly - the government created a category of "interdependent" relationships for the purposes of superannuation in the private
sector, which luckily same-sex couples, after a few additional hurdles, can qualify for. Queers working in the public sector still have to wait.I've already outlined
the problematic nature of classifying our relationships as interdependent rather than acknowledging what we really are - spouses - but let me drag out one of my preferred analogies to illustrate the point.
Two people work in adjoining cubicles doing the same job. The boss leaves one alone to do his job without interruption, but every morning approaches the other employee and asks: "So, why shouldn't I fire you today? Justify your presence here until I am satisfied."
3. Queer soldiers serving in the armed defence forces now have parity with heterosexual soldiers regarding their relationship entitlements and benefits.
Again, not entirely. This week's reforms work on the same principle of interdependency, so not all areas are covered here, such as superannuation, veteran affairs' pensions and compensation.
As I've argued, the overarching problem is the government's blanket refusal to define same-sex couples as spouses and comprehensively reform all federal laws accordingly, still facilitating massive discrimination in taxation, welfare and family laws to name a few. Occasional bones thrown at us, almost accidentally, by legislating for interdependents, while better than nothing, still do not go far enough and will always lead to gaping holes in any kind of legislative reform.
Before I'm accused of being too socialist/pro-Labor/parochially anti-Liberal, let me make clear that I don't believe queer law reform and right-wing politics are automatically oxymoronic. The Victorian Kennett government, for all its many faults, was proof of this. Similarly, the current SA Rann government is a good example of how anti-queer a Labor government can be (and before anybody rushes to their defence by pointing out the reform Bill currently in parliament that this government introduced, please read this).
I have no bias towards Labor over Liberal in this area other than acknowledging what is fact: comprehensive reform of state laws relating to same-sex couples has always happened under Labor governments, and federal Labor, unless the policy changes before the next election (certainly not out of the question, especially with Kym Beazley at the helm), is committed to an audit and reform of all federal legislation, not merely piecemeal patchwork that the Howard government periodically offers.
What I do believe are oxymoronic concepts are comprehensive queer law reform and the current Howard government, not necessarily federal Liberal governments generally. This week's defence force concessions did not occur because of a sudden seeing of the light in the Liberal caucus - it happened because of agitation from groups within and outside of the ADF, including, somewhat surprisingly, the RSL.
The government would never have devised this reform of its own recognisance. The occasions it specifically targets same-sex couples are invariably part of negative, eg anti-terror laws, or regressive (same-sex marriage and adoption bans) policy. In fact, the theory that this week's reform has only occurred as a sweetener to the likely ban on same-sex couples adopting children from overseas, to be introduced later this year, seems quite logical to me.
The Howard government is resolutely unwilling to equate same-sex couples with The Family as it has defined in its extremely myopic terms. Federal Labor might feel uncomfortable about this too, but its history and (current) commitment demonstrate it is at least vaguely open-minded to the possibility of including same-sex couples and their offspring in their concept of "family".
This is why the Howard government attracts the most extreme of Bible-thumping zealots and Family Snobs (ie those who seek to exclude legitimate possible candidates from the concept). Granted, federal Labor might also harbour a few individuals like this - former Senator Jacinta Collins springs to mind - but such would likely be in the minority, and are not influential enough to prevent Labor caucus committing explicitly to comprehensive reform.
Which brings me to myth No 4, which I'll quote verbatim from the aforementioned blogsite:
4. The likes of the ACE engage in indiscriminate Liberal bashing.
It's not Liberal-bashing for queer lobby groups to identify and condemn the shortcomings of the Howard government; it's common sense. The Australian Coalition for Equality would like nothing more than to engage productively with a federal government, but it's just so plainly obvious this particular federal government does not want to engage with the ACE, or indeed any other queer organisation.
There may be an argument, often popular with conservatives, that some reforms can happen behind closed doors, in a very civilised, sherry drinking by the fire manner and without the threatening, in-your-face style of queer lobby groups. This week's reforms would appear to be proof of this, although I still believe the former approach is at heart naive. Comprehensive state law reforms only occurred due to the pressue of various state lobby groups. The impetus for comprehensive federal law reform will only exist with a federal lobby group to remind the Labor government (or, who knows, maybe even the non Howard-led Liberal government) of its commitments.
As I say, this has nothing to do with bias. It's just common sense.
Very Strange Bedfellows
Barry and Jose
have been up the North Coast the last few days in an orgy of Smug Couple Mini-Breakiness. So sue me, I'm happy. I mean, Barry's happy.
Anyway, that's why QP postings have been non-existent for the last few days. Today's is my column as I catch up with the work that's piled up in my absence. Or, more accurately, as I catch up on the many means of procrastination I have devised to avoid work that piles up. You get the gist.The Returned and Services League might be the last organisation one would expect to be an ally of the queer community in the battle for relationship equality.
It certainly came as a shock to me to discover the RSL is supporting federal government law reform
that will allow partners of Australian servicemen and women in same-sex relationships to have equal entitlements as heterosexual partners.
Of course, the support is not absolute and the legislative reforms are not comprehensive. The RSL President, Major-General Bill Crews, made clear that his organisation does not champion legal recognition of homosexual relationships – a rather meaningless statement in light of what they’re supporting – and the partnership recognition will still not extend to superannuation, veterans’ affairs pensions and compensation. Crews also believes that this endorsement, resolved by the RSL’s policy advisory group, does not have the broad support of its members.
The reason behind the Howard government’s about-face is somewhat unclear. Perhaps this is a concession to appease the understandable outrage many queer people felt when the government directly acknowledged same-sex couples in legislature solely for the prospect of detaining partners of suspected terrorists, as part of its sweeping anti-terror laws. So long as the government insists on denying same-sex couples legally-defined “spouse” status
in federal legislation gaping holes will continue to exist, as such couples must prove the unnecessarily complicated factor of interdependency in their relationship to claim any kinds of benefits.
That said, however, this is a significant gain and another step along the inevitable, if painfully protracted, path of full legal recognition of same-sex couples in Australia.
Not to downplay the hard work of campaigners within the Australian Defence Force to raise this issue and provide a solution, but one can only assume the government would not have committed to this reform without the RSL’s blessing. Perhaps due to generational change, the RSL now does not appear so resistant to queer sexuality as it would have been under the leadership of the extremist former President Bruce Ruxton
Or maybe this is just a case of a group of reasonably intelligent people adopting a common sense position. When irrelevant and harmful rhetoric is removed from the debate, the principle of same-sex couples seeking equal rights is not difficult to grasp or even endorse. It has nothing to do with the imposition of an unhealthy lifestyle, or undermining the sanctity of marriage, or threatening The Family, or any other of the hysterical catchphrases churned out by our more militant opponents.
If the RSL is prepared to see past these smokescreens, why won’t our government?
I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be partially defending a Nationals MP who manhandles an ALP Minister
during parliament. But I feel this has to be put in context.
For starters, I don't think very highly of Joe Tripodi. He earned his first black cross in my book not long after I moved to Sydney in 2003, when he was one of the few Labor Lower House members to vote against equalising the age of consent. Then there's his dodgy history
of corruption and sexual misconduct allegations.
Andrew Fraser is claiming the reason he lost it in the chamber was because Tripodi was deliberately goading him. Tripodi claimed that, on the occasion he went to visit Bonville as part of his dealings looking into improving the Pacific Highway, Fraser, the local member for that area, "was somewhere in Sydney...unable to be found in his electorate".
In fact, according to Fraser, he was travelling to Yass to attend the funeral of a close friend, the father of another MP Katrina Hodgkinson, who had taken his life as a result of the drought.
Now, I know goading is part and parcel of parliamentary debate, and that it is the responsibility of MPs to rise above it. If they react as Fraser has, ultimately they're the ones who look foolish, ill-tempered and aggressive. I also know it would be difficult to determine if Tripodi knew about the suicide of Fraser's friend and was deliberately using this to provoke Fraser.
But my gut tells me, given Tripodi's history and an understanding of how men in the NSW ALP Right machine operate, that he, and indeed the party, did know the state of play and this was part of a greater ALP plot to make Fraser snap, by exploiting someone's suicide and another person's close relationship with that person.
The fact is, if this is true, Fraser's actions have not brought down the NSW parliament any further; it's already very much in the gutter. Although it is correct that Fraser be reprimanded for his actions, perhaps this could also be a catalyst to examine what sort of system we have where politicians can be so devious behind the scenes that they can plot to exploit one another where even something like a friend's suicide is not sacred.
Of course, Labor aren't the only ones guilty of this unforgivable crime. Last week, Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja lost it at Nationals senator Julian McGauran
after he goaded her regarding her party's stance over the so-called "war on terrorism", presumably knowing about the friend of Stott Despoja's who died in the September 11 attacks. Neither of the two major parties is any better or worse than the other and Fraser's attack is just the tip of an iceberg.
Curse of the Christian Tuba Player
Poor Harold Bishop
. His first wife Mavis died unexpectedly, leaving him to raise son David and daughter Kerry by himself.
Then, Kerry was accidentally shot dead while out on a duck-hunting protest. "Won't somebody please think of the ducks?" she whispered softly into Joe Mangel's ear before carking it.
Then, Harold's beloved second wife, Madge,
asked for a pay rise and was written out of the show
contracted cancer and died. Her death was so catastrophically tragic that even her own children, Charlene and Henry, were so overcome with grief they could not bear to attend her funeral.
Now, it looks like Jelly Belly's about to lose his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter
in an orgy of Logie nominated-esque soap dramaticals.
All that's needed now is for Sky to suffer a surprise premature death - perhaps a nice decapitation in the style of The Omen?
- and Harold could snap, go all postal/bell towery on the residents of Ramsay Street.
I see it now - Harold's injected Lyn - who rejected his (nude) plea for solace and companionship - with a slow-releasing poison and chained her leg to No 26's letterbox. The antidote is just beyond her reach, but he does offer her a hacksaw (did I mention the chain itself was hacksaw proof?). Big decision to make, with only 11 minutes left to live...
Then again, does a man who wears bow ties
really deserve the privilege of his loved ones' continued existence?
Note to self: Pick up a life from the deli on way home.
Eternal Contradictions of the Howard Mind
If the Government's IR changes (I've given up on the ironic use of "reforms" in quotation marks) are so good, beneficial to employees, not biased towards employers and necessary to enhance productivity, why does it need to spend many millions of our tax-payer dollars
to tell us this? Couldn't they just ram the legislation through parliament (as they will anyway) and let us bask in the WorkChoices afterglow ourselves, saving us a few million bucks?
(Additionally: Why do labels for new government initiatives always adopt a gimmicky advertisement style? Does WorkChoices have to become one word? Would it lose any credibility if it were expressed correctly?)
If extreme laws
supposedly designed to combat terrorism are needed to protect our wonderful, free and democratic way of life, exactly which aspects of freedom are being protected? The freedom for potentially innocent people to be incarcerated, held incommunicado for up to two weeks with no access to legal counsel or friends and family? The freedom to be shot-to-kill by our police force even where there is not a life-threatening situation involved? We've seen recently
how important it is to maintain that freedom.
If democracy and freedom of speech form the basis of the style of Western lifestyle we enjoy - the sort of lifestyle Islamic extremists apparently hate us for and seek to destroy - why is the government attempting to rush through sweeping and revolutionary legislation without proper and due parliamentary, democratic process? One day for a parliamentary committee to examine the legislation?!
And why did the Government get so stroppy about ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope releasing a draft copy of the Bill onto his website if it supposedly comprises no more than what was already agreed to by the Labor premiers during the COAG meeting? Surely it wasn't that they were upset people would have more time to actually examine this Bill and formulate their opposition to it?
And why did it have to take government backbenchers (presumably the usual Commo suspects - Georgiou, Moylan, Payne, etc) raising their concerns before a clearer line was re-drawn between freedom of speech and inciting hatred or sedition?
Indeed, why is there even a provision for sedition when "the term is deprecated in most countries, though equivalent language may still be in use in totalitarian and fascist jurisdictions"?
Can I be jailed for up to 7 years just for even asking these questions aloud?
Where is the line drawn? Am I a terrorist, or am I inciting terrorism, if I suggest on my site that Islamic resentment of Western society, particularly against countries so closely aligned to the US, perhaps should be examined rather than blindly condemned the next time a bomb goes off in or around the neighbourhood?
Phew! Good thing I didn't say it, then. (*wink*)
I've taken down my recent posting on Michael Kirby/Bill Heffernan.
While I think that some people have completely misunderstood or distorted the points I was trying to make - and anyone who's ever met me or read more than one posting on QP will know that promoting negative stereotypes about homosexuality and paedophilia is not my thing - I appreciate the posting was potentially upsetting or offensive and perhaps not appropriate for publication on the Net. So it's gone.
Step Right Up, Step Right Up!
Yes, it's a Hansard link, but don't be afraid - it's remarkably compelling reading. Check out the various circus tricks
the Senate President and Liberal senators perform to cover up Bill Heffernan's heavying of Barnaby Joyce after he crossed the floor.
It would be laughable were it not for the fact that it's pissing on parliamentary procedure, just to shepherd one of the ol' boys, of the worst kind.
Random Neighbours Twists
Given it's all getting a bit saucy on Ramsay Street these days, I thought I'd offer some dream twists I'd like to see played out.
NB: Regular font = what's actually happening or will be happening for real, bold font
= QP's fantasies.
1. Dr Karl breaks his Hippocratic Oath to tell Susan the truth about Alex's terminal illness. Susan breaks off the engagement and (apparently) gets back with Karl. This devastates Izzy who, bored with being continually poisoned by Paul's daughter, breaks off her relationship with him and sets her love voodoo back on the Doc. This leads to a fresh batch of Izzy/Susan showdowns, the most memorable of which involves them beating one another with No 22 and No 28's mail posts in the middle of the cul-de-sac. It soon becomes clear, however, that all this aggression is (naturally) symptomatic of latent sexual tension between the two, and soon Susan kicks Karl out again and allows Izzy and an 110-pound Alsatian, "Sappho", to move in. A love triangle briefly forms when Sky decides she misses the minge action and seduces Susan but this is all happily resolved when she moves in with the two of them (causing a devastated Harold to become addicted to petrol sniffing to numb his pain). Lyn, unable to reconcile her Catholicism with her best friend being a dyke, sells the house to Janelle and moves to Horsham, successfully winning a federal seat with the Nationals on a platform of throwing lesbians in the Murray to see if they sink (not a witch/lesbian) or float (witch/lesbian).
2. Apparently David, Lil and Serena Bishop are all getting killed off at once when a plane goes down into the ocean. The Timminses all pile into their campervan home to rescue them but only get a few metres out to sea before they realise it doesn't actually work in water, and trapped alive in their coffin they all drown and die.
Mercifully, the torso of Dylan Timmins is preserved and the head of a much more attractive boy is surgically transplanted onto it. The new "Dylan" has a successful career in the Neighbours' spin-off of hard-core porn movies, "Gay Whores".
3. Ned, Stu's brother, has a mind-warping revelation that he is in fact Dan O'Connor, a really, really, really bad actor on a television show that no amount of Jan Russ magic can transform. Realising his total and complete redundancy on Ramsay Street whenever he is wearing clothes, he returns to Hillsong and finds enlightenment as Brian Houston's "special brother", albeit wondering occasionally if being rogered senseless while clutching to a crucifix is really part of "God's plan" as Brian insists.
4. Dee Bliss Rebecchi, Toadie's long-thought dead bride, is found and returned to Ramsay Street but with no recollection of her time there.
It turns out she's been brainwashed by Mrs Mangel, who secretly still lives around the corner in Eden Hills and is 127, into slaughtering one Ramsay Street resident at a time every time she hears Bob barking as her trigger.
Having stabbed, beheaded, flayed or thrown into acid vats almost all the residents, she breaks into No 30 to take out Toadie, but he counters her brainwashing by showing her the hives all over his flabby bottom, which puts her body's self-defence mechanism into a comatose state.
I also have a vision involving the zombie Madge Bishop in a death-match with the zombie Helen Daniels, but I think I have to flesh that out a little more...
Random Politics Test
No big surprise I guess. I don 't know that I care for being labelled a "Democrat", but it is a US test after all.
Meanwhile: avoid Gloria Jean's like the plague
. Which I already do anyway - and resent their recent presence in my neighbourhood (namely the Edgecliff shopping centre). There it goes...
Ain't capitalism grand? You get to help fund anti-queer fundamentalist evangelicism AND set up two of your styrofoam coffee mini-empires on Sydney's two gayest streets.
Does anybody else find these statistics as read into yesterday's Senate Hansard a little concerning?Table 7: Funding to non-government organisations under the Family Planning Program, 2004-2005 (estimated)
Non-Government Organisations 2004-05
Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia $100,165
Working Women’s Health $113,867Australian Episcopal Conference of the Roman Catholic Church $918,826
Australian Federation of Pregnancy Support Services $245,580
TOTAL (GST exclusive) $1,378,438
a/ Since when has the RCC ever advocated family planning, and
b/ Why are they getting nearly twice the funding of those that do combined ?
Unless I'm missing something, and this "Australian Episcopal Conference" is actually the one branch of Catholicism that doesn't condemn to Hell all women who choose or are required to terminate their pregnancies?
Come Out, Brendan
Sorry for the silence the last few days - I spent the long weekend down in Melbourneo. Crumbs they're a friendly, well-dressed, well-built sexy mob down there (with the obvious exception of Peter Costello). And their trains run on time, too. Makes me wonder why I keep choosing to live in Sydney and not just move down there?
Oh, that's right. Because we're the city
. And sinners. Heh.
Time restrictions limit me to reproduction of my SX column today. See you soon for something more substantial.Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson must be clearing the way for his prime ministerial pitch, recently promoting himself as the proud face of and spokesperson for the Howard government’s most extreme xenophobic and outdated, regressive teaching agendas. But was he always so reprehensible?
Apparently not. Ten years ago, Nelson’s brother died from AIDS, and although he has not yet admitted he was gay, he did mention his brother’s death in the context of an anti-Mardi Gras speech
he gave to parliament in 1998, so it’s perhaps not so presumptuous to join the dots.
While condemning the supposedly “hurtful” nature of the Mardi Gras parade and some of its participants, however, Nelson went to great lengths to express his support for queer people and same-sex couples, as he had done previously
the year before. In a surprisingly sensitive and tolerant statement for a senior Howard government minister, Nelson said: “Homosexual people are our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our sons and daughters, and some are even parents, and they should be able to live in a society that is free of intolerance, persecution and hatred.” He identified specific areas where same-sex couples were discriminated against and claimed that, whilst he could never endorse Mardi Gras, he would “gladly support a dignified campaign to overcome the injustices endured by homosexual people”.
One must wonder, then, why Nelson was so quiet during last year, when the injustice of a same-sex marriage ban was enacted in a particularly undignified manner. One must also wonder why he is not currently criticising his government over its broken promise to provide superannuation reform for same-sex couples.
The answer, of course, is simple: Nelson must tread very carefully while preparing the path for his leadership bid. John Howard will not allow any queer-friendly MP to go far in his government, which is why Nelson, as well as Communications Minister Helen Coonan, have attempted to bury their past records of positive queer activism. Joe Hockey, the Minister for Human Services, has also previously voiced his support for queer law reform – and to his credit, recently identified David Clarke for the extremist, Bible-bashing thug he is – but otherwise he is deafeningly silent as well these days.
The great tragedy is the people these parliamentarians leave behind when selling out their politics to further their own careers. I imagine if Nelson’s brother were alive today, he would be devastated to see his brother playing such an active role in a government that swiftly and enthusiastically panders to homophobic and hateful lobby groups and further marginalises queer communities for the sake of a few votes.
I believe there’s still a good man itching to burst out of Brendan Nelson. I just hope he hasn’t been lost forever.