Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Any Insight?

Tuned into SBS's Insight program last night to catch the forum on same-sex marriage. I myself had already attempted to wrangle a couple of seats in the audience for myself and the man, but the two cards I had up my sleeve to play - my involvement in ACE and SX - ironically appeared to be the two very factors most likely to work against my inclusion. When I received a text from a friend of mine, a much, much more prominent and committed activist, informing me that once the SBS producers, after pumping him for contacts, told him they wanted "no (queer) activists", the producers' agenda became clear: The pro-ss marriage side was to be "non-political" couples - ideally, with a child - struggling against the day-to-day practicalities of legal discrimination. Essentially, they were humanising the queers, while the s-s marriage opponents would comprise of robotic politicians (Liberal Senator for the ACT Gary Humphries, who barely sounded like he believed what he was saying anyway, merely trotting out the Howard propaganda on auto-pilot) and spokespeople for two of Australia's strongest anti-gay lobby groups, the Catholic Church and the Australian Family Association. Oh, and Dreadnought was thrown in for novelty value.

As is the nature of this show, the debate denegerated about half-way through into people shouting over one another to be heard. Jenny Brockie does a reasonable job as moderator but there's only so much she can do in the face of such strong (and at times self-opinionated) personalities.

I guess I was disappointed with the forum for a few reasons. Firstly, the bulk of the debate ended up being more on whether gays and lesbians should be able to have/raise children, rather than how and why our relationships should be celebrated and formalised. This, of course, is the usual offensive of the Christian extremists, to confuse the issue and scaremonger with platitudes of "won't somebody PLEASE think of the children", because essentially it's impossible to otherwise argue against some means of legal parity for same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships. It was wonderful seeing couples like Jason and Adrian and Deb and Lou showing the world that there are queers in the world willing and able to be amazing parents in the face of such adversity, and as one of these couples aptly pointed out, no child is born by accident to a same-sex couple, unplanned or unloved, as happens in many heterosexual encounters. However, I was more interested to hear from Gary Lowe, who with "two goldfish" has no plans to have children with his partner of many years but does want his relationship to be equal under the law. Gary's plea is more indicative, I would argue, of the bulk of same-sex couples and our demands. Unfortunately, however, they only got to Gary towards the end.

I would have preferred the parameters of debate to be defined not solely by whether queers should be allowed to get married, but by what legal model (interdependency, civil unions, marriage or something else again) should we have our relationships formalised. The argument put forward by the AFA and Catholic Church - that same-sex relationships should have no legal standing at all - is already essentially redundant in the face of existing state and federal law reforms that acknowledge and provide for such relationships. I guess my suggested parameters would not have made for such heated televisual debate, however.

Was also interesting to hear from former Chief Justice of the Family Court and outspoken same-sex marriage supporter, Alistair Nicholson, and the tremendously well-meaning member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch. I believe Entsch when he says he believes he has the support of enough people in his party to get up his private member's bill for same-sex civil unions. I don't believe, however, that he actually has the support, merely friends of his in the Liberal Party for now telling him what he wants to hear. As always, the proof will be in the pudding, when his bill is stalled, undebated in parliament. I hate to be this cynical and I certainly don't mean to downplay Entsch's hard work and genuine concern for social justice - the sort of "fair go, mate" mentality Howard himself pretends to espouse - but I think he's about to receive a fairly unpleasant wake-up call on this particular issue.

Jon Stanhope was also a class act. I could play Jeanette to him any day.

Two-and-a-half stars, Margaret. A very well-intentioned but only partially successful attempt to raise relevant issues and present opposing viewpoints.

MrLefty also offers a good round-up of the show.


At 17/5/06 12:01 pm, Anonymous bec said...

My girlfriend and i watched this with great interest, and we weren't satisfied at all. It was disheartening to hear the debate about 'gay marriage' spiral downwards into a conversation about children. Not all gay people want to have kids, for fucks sake - that wasn't even the point. The debate wasn't entitled 'Should gay couples be allowed to have children?'

On a side note, I had never heard of this Dreadnought character before the show - what is your opinion on Mr Heard?

At 17/5/06 12:36 pm, Anonymous kate said...

Arguments about same sex marriage make me tear up, every single time.

I just don't get why those opposed to it continue to roll out ideas about marriage that are incredibly outdated. I always wonder, when will they insist that my aunty, who married a bloke but never had kids, gets a divorce? When will they acknowledge that same sex couples will continue to have relationships, and raise children, regardless of their legal situation? All they are doing is forcing same sex couples to wade through more red tape than hetro couples have to, to prove the genuine nature of their love.

I didn't watch the show last night, we watched a dvd of Firefly instead. I like Joss Weadon's reality better.

At 17/5/06 1:01 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Bec: Having met John in real life, I can say he is an incredibly intelligent, articulate and even philosophical person, and an excellent writer to boot. I also believe he is as misguided in his stance on gay marriage as he believes I am in mine.

Kate: I completely appreciate your frustration. And yes, the world would be a better place if Joss Whedon's reality were manifest, bar the existence of that annoying Michelle Tratchenberg.

At 17/5/06 2:34 pm, Anonymous Baz n Bazza said...

Sam. "Deadnaughts" comments on the meaning of gay rights, would appear to contradict your opinion.

At 17/5/06 4:41 pm, Blogger mikey said...

Heard is a rude, nasty little shit who insinuated homosexuality was a "choice" similar to choosing a BMW over a Mercedes.

It's obvious SBS is grooming him as a Damir Dokic-esque village idiot.

At 17/5/06 4:44 pm, Blogger mikey said...

Having met John in real life, I can say he is an incredibly intelligent, articulate and even philosophical person, and an excellent writer to boot.

Now if that isn't blatantly arselicking the enemy, then I don't know what is.

Heard is not intelligent. He has merely been trained by the church and wounded by his unpopularity to be a shrill annoyance. He was not able to articulate why natural law is against gays (because this is just a weak, tacked-on afterthought) and his writing is just literary masturbation with a few shocking half-truths thrown in.

At 17/5/06 5:02 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Mikey: Bashing John in several different blog sites with such frenzy ultimately only makes you look obsessed. You're also doing him a favour. His ego relishes the thought that he can affect people so strongly and he thrives on conflicting views.

He's not going to change his mind any quicker than you or I will. My advice is to chill and let it go. Save the fury for the anti-gay activists and groups that actually influence policy and legislation - Family First, ACA, ACL, Hillsong etc.

At the end of the day, John just writes a blog site, a few magazine articles and pops up on occasional SBS shows.

At 17/5/06 5:11 pm, Blogger mikey said...

Well then I'm making him "sin" aren't I, if my bashing of him is stroking his ego. I know what I'm doing.

In the end, he will be exposed for the sick, miserable faggot he is.

You on the other hand are better than the arselickings you always give him.

At 17/5/06 5:40 pm, Anonymous bazza said...

Sam. Sorry mate but "Deadnaught" is an RC bigot, when it comes to supporting full gay rights.

As a "devout roman catholic", does he have to go to weekly confession, so he can have his weekly shag. Maybe he is not aware that being an RC, he is making a holy sin every week!

At 17/5/06 8:19 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

Sam, you know what I think of DN, well I usually try not to think of him (delicate stomach an' all).

I will be at The Muriels wedding or the maternity ward whichever comes first and they deserve both. They don't deserve to be relegated to second class citizens because they're the same sex.

Second class citizenship should be saved for most of my crap relatives who can marry as many times as they like and dump a succession of kids on the street without a second thought.

At 18/5/06 7:46 am, Blogger Rainbow said...

My partner and I were guests on the Insight program and we were very disappointed at the end result. We were invited to attend to share our views and to hopefully portray ourselves as good long term gay role models, only to be constantly interrupted by John Heard, a master at obnoxiuos beahviour. We were there to represent the Tasmanian Deed of relationship, but we had no hope at all as the debate swung into a G&L children debate. We are also disappointed that the G&L community was not represented by activists who knew the program was going to air but did not appear on the program! The other participants and ourselves, were there to express our love for each other and our experiences and we are not and do not pretend to be activists. I know there were opportunities for the G&L activists to appear but for whatever reason they did not demand representation for our community!I virtually pleaded with the producers to include Rodney Croome but was told that he was not concerned whether he appeared or not!! The other State activists would have been advised of the program...where were you!!!

At 18/5/06 8:33 am, Blogger Gay Erasmus said...

Sigh. I got the e-mail a couple of months ago to sit in the audience for this programme but let it pass. I never have high hopes for these televised forums. These sorts of shows tend to reveal a caricature of the real debate; how could they not with this debate in particular, which has multiple strands of pro and con arguments, from straight and gay people alike?

Unfortunately, I missed the show. Suffice to say, you probably know my position already, Sam: that same-sex marriage is a choice that should be made available to those seeking it, and that nothing in the Bible or in Christian faith is an impediment to a lifelong, legally recognized sacrament undertaken between two people of the same sex.

At 18/5/06 7:23 pm, Anonymous Matt said...

Mikey, I have seen your posts on a number of sites since the show aired. You have contributed nothing of value to this conversation. Please shut up and let the reasonable people talk.

At 19/5/06 12:37 am, Blogger H Y A K U N I N C H O said...

Unfortunately, for most people who were in the studio audience or who were watching Insight in the comfort of their homes, the bitter taste they will have difficulty getting rid of from their mouths is that of a certain John Heard. Yes, he sounded "intelligent", whatever that means. If calculatedly well-timed loud attacks on anyone trying to get a point across that differs from his moral standard equates with so-called "intelligence", then, perhaps.But I would beg to differ.

My mind has boggled and still boggles trying to get my head round the notion of a "Log Cabin Republican" in the United States. I was beginning to think this John Heard person was the Australian equivalent, but no, he is the equivalent of something far worse, much more insidious. He is a Queer Quisling, warped by self loathing for being gay and stunted by the dogma of catholicism that he has seemed fit to embrace to cover up the automatic perceptions of him by the straight community at large.

Is it too late to get this John Heard individual to a shrink, not necessarily for his sake, but for our sake?

At 19/5/06 4:39 am, Blogger Arthur_Vandelay said...

It's on a slightly different tangent, QP, but it will interest a BB fan like yourself nonetheless: David was holding forth on the issue of gay marriage on last night's episode.

At 20/5/06 4:54 pm, Anonymous kate said...

The other thing that irritates me (although not as much as 'arguments' against gay marriage) is the idea that all Catholics are represented by people like George Pell or John Heard. The Church is currently run by people with pretty conservative views, but there are also lots of progressive religious people. I'm not religious, but my parents are, as are my partner's parents, and they are certainly not alone in their progressive views. Lefty Catholics just don't get much attention these days. (and they should demand it, I'm not saying they don't have to take any responsibility)

At 23/5/06 8:55 pm, Anonymous morgan said...

Late, I know, but one of the things that struck me most about the programme was just how few heterosexuals I know - married or not - that meet the benchmarks sets by the Catholic and AFA representatives present: sex is for procreation; marriage is for children; children need two parents, one each of opposite sex.

i'm disappointed that this wasn't questioned more explicitly.

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