Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fuck This

(Not a terribly creative title, I know. You'll forgive my lack of eloquence today.)

If there was any doubt that the Howard government had doomed to failure to ACT's Civil Union Bill long before it was enacted and "reviewed" by the Attorney-General, check out this very educational column by the Bulletin's Laurie Oakes (who no-one could seriously accuse of being a biased lefty hack).

Specifically, note his detailing of how Ruddock and Howard instructed their staff to be extremely vague and non-specific when responding to the Stanhope government's request to the Howard government to outline which provisions of the Bill they had a problem with, why, and how an override could be avoided:

"Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock was instructed to write to the Stanhope government explaining which aspects of the legislation were unacceptable. This Ruddock duly did, nominating four areas where he said the legislation would have to be amended. But he did not specify how it should be changed, and there’s the rub.

Ruddock originally intended to set out details of the changes that would make the legislation acceptable. When the PM’s office got wind of this, however, the attorney--general was jumped on and told to write only in the most general terms. The reason, as I understand it, was that – for tactical reasons – Howard wanted to retain maximum flexibility. 'If we’d laid out our requirements and Stanhope did what we asked, we’d be bound to accept his legislation,' a federal government source told me. So the ACT government had to guess at what the feds would accept. Even though all four sections identified as problem areas by Ruddock were amended, Howard was able to dismiss the changes as not going far enough.

One federal Liberal MP – in private conversation with colleagues – has described what Howard and Ruddock did as 'a sting operation'".

And yet, still the Australian managed to blame the Stanhope government for the Bill's failure.

What a load of shit.

This was indeed a pre-meditated sting all along, designed purely to make the Stanhope government look bad, undermine the ACT's autonomy and therefore Stanhope's leadership, and give the poofs and dykes another square kick in the guts.

Meanwhile, the motion to the disallow the Governor-General's instrument has just been voted down, and apparently now has any chance of the original Bill's hope of resurrection.

Days like this I am ashamed to live in a country that would willingly have this regime as its government.

Fuck. Them. All.


At 15/6/06 3:20 pm, Blogger HDZ said...

"Fuck. Them. All"

Careful what you say, Sam. The rate this government is going that is what will be banned next.

Livid is a word that comes to mind.

At 15/6/06 4:43 pm, Anonymous bec said...

Well, it's times like this i'm pissed off at all my supportive friends and family, who will still vote Liberal at the next election.

At 15/6/06 5:27 pm, Blogger Jeremy said...

Well, that, the total disdain for the rule of law (here and abroad - hey, we don't like David Hicks, you can keep him forever for all we care), and the utter contempt for working men and women.

They're total cunts. I don't know how anyone could vote for them. Ever. Even if you thought Latham was a bit of a dill, Howard is clearly EVIL INCARNATE. To vote for those bastards, people must just willingly somehow turn off the part of their brains that's connected to ethical decision-making.

At 15/6/06 5:29 pm, Blogger Jeremy said...

ps There's a fine example of the illogical mentality behind this sort of legislation over at Dogfight at Bankstown, where debating Saint on gay marriage is like banging your head repeatedly against a wall THAT KEEPS FUCKING MOVING ABOUT.

At 15/6/06 6:06 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Yes I read some of that DFAB crud MrL, have to say I was quite surprised as I'd always assumed he was a bit of a lefty? Read more like something from Heard or Jericho, really.

At 15/6/06 6:27 pm, Blogger Splatterbottom said...

This is totally perverse. And totally in line with the John Howard political playbook - play dirty, play hard, win at all costs, and don't worry who you damage or how badly.

All that is required is a simple thing, a little thing, the decent thing to do and all of a sudden it is satanic panic in the corridors of power. Irrational fear and loathing as though it is the end of the world as we know it.

At 15/6/06 6:54 pm, Anonymous Ninglun said...

I wonder how all the gays and closets on the conservative side of politics are feeling right now, assuming they are not total masochists of course. And there are quite a few big names in that list in the media and elsewhere, eh.

At 15/6/06 8:47 pm, Blogger Mars said...

The thing i find most interesting about this is the Lib, Humphries, crossng the floor. We are living in a society that is becomming so conservative, it scares the hell out of me. But what disgusts me the most is this Steve Fielding and that he effectively has the balance of power. What hope do we have with a lone religious fundamentalist having the final say?

One day the Libs will be out. One day David Hicks will be told why he is being held. And one day laws on marriage will not be discriminatory.

Wish that day would hurry up, because the way this country is being run is nothing more than an embarassment.

At 16/6/06 1:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, people assume I am a lefty or a righty; I've never identified as either. But even if I did, does that mean I would be beholden to certain views without thinking for myself?

I do agree with you that this is just as much about politics as the issue and have said as much too. But the ACT government handed it to the Feds with the initial provocative act (and Stanthope would have not been too popular after posting certain draft federal legislation on the web). As one editor said: it was like handing Howard a wedge.

And what bet that if the A-G had told them what amendments to make, and they didn't like them, they would have cried interference?

I notice many are still crying homophobia.


At 16/6/06 2:34 am, Blogger WhimAndAPrayer said...

"Provocative" or otherwise, Stanhope's legislation was the stuff of true statesmanship.

In stark contrast, whether we call it homophobia/contempt/loathing, marriage elitism or plain old same-sex discrimination, all the recent moves by Howard & Ruddock on this - from the stealthy backdoor manoeuvring with the Governor-General to their continued refusal to specify HOW the ACT could redraft its Bill to satisfy their concerns - smack of unfair and premature process, bad faith and shoddy governance.

Even members of their own joint party room have said as much. With the most visible of them, Senator Gary Humphries, himself no ardent fan of same-sex relationships by a long shot, crossing the Senate floor in what is a first-ever during Howard's 10 year reign.

I found the closeness of the vote reassuring. However, the inability of Family First Senator Steve Fielding to put aside his personal convictions and consider the real issue, Territorial democratic autonomy, was not.

Further advancement of this issue will not be far off. In the meantime, same-sex attracted folk need to get organised, get involved & take action. Boys & girls, spruik it to your tribe.

At 16/6/06 8:41 am, Blogger Sam said...

"But the ACT government handed it to the Feds with the initial provocative act."

The evidence clearly shows that what you're saying just isn't the case, saint.

The ACT was only doing what it had been elected to do; this was not some surprise piece of unknown or radical legislation.

Furthermore, Oakes' article shows that the Bill could have got through, amended in such a way that would have been acceptable to both Stanhope and Ruddock, until and ONLY UNTIL the PM's office directly intervened.

No-one would have "cried homophobia" or "interference" as the Stanhope government had already resolved to accept the AG's amendments as much as they could - virtually impossible as they were flying blind, but they tried their best.

"Stanthope would have not been too popular after posting certain draft federal legislation on the web."

Exactly, and that's been my point along - queer people in the ACT suffer purely because of a juvenile act of revenge by Howard against Stanhope. It's pathetic.

I shouldn't have pigeon-holed you in left or right boxes; I guess what I meant is that you've always struck me as being a more sympathetic, fair-minded political blogger than what I read of you on this particular issue.

At 16/6/06 10:15 am, Blogger Ron said...

From a letter in The Sydney Morning Herald last Wednesday:

"I am also a nurse and have worked with homosexual and lesbian nurses and doctors, some of whom I would count as friends. Were I to fall ill, I would gladly be treated by them, as there is no reason why they would be any more or less competent than their heterosexual colleagues."

Substitute black (or Asian etc) for 'homosexual and lesbian' and white (or Western etc) for 'heterosexual' and you get a real sense of déjà vu

At 16/6/06 11:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your vote of confidence.

I don't have a problem with removing aspects of legislation which can be properly determined to be discriminatory - not just for gays. If that was the intention an act like Tassie's Relationships Act (which also required a whole pile of amendments to other legislation) was a more sensible way to go, and extends to defacto hetero couples and also to other care/dependance relationships.

Even though I accept that people live by different values, the implications and flow on effects of enshrining gay marriage - either as a civil union in state legislation, or fully including it in the Marriage Act, are I think, not good.

Yes that will upset some people (but only the hard core gay activists who are really into the 'gay agenda'. I actually find many of my gay and lesbian friends/colleagues much more reasonable). No I am not sorry. Yes I still do maintain friendships with people who disagree with me or live their lives differently from me, in ways that go against my values. We all do - which is why I get annoyed at cries of homophobia and gay hate in this particular debate.

Having said that, I have always found Ruddock more reasonable (I always look to him for clues as to what is the real issue; much as he too is a politician and can be a snake, I think he is less into the politics; plus he has also maintained his own legal qualifications and has a long history in supporting human rights and understanding such issues. But I think he too would understand that marriage is not a 'human right" in the classical sense of the term - something that is universal and with few restrictions, much as people want to now make it one. And that there is more to maintain in supporting marriage as one man- one woman to exclusion of all others for life - than enshrining gay marriage in law.

And well Howard has a reputation of "never forgetting".

On the state/federal rights, yes politics there too.

But everyone knows all this which is why Stanhope is not without responsibility here.


At 16/6/06 11:23 am, Blogger Ron said...

What is the 'gay agenda', Saint?

At 16/6/06 11:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gay agenda for me can be summarised as "all that is noble, beautiful and good is gay"

But you also have to ask those who coined the term

Hey, we even have a gay agenda "bishops" like this. Not exactly the paradigm of all that is good, noble and beautiful himself.


At 16/6/06 12:09 pm, Blogger Sam said...

"If that was the intention an act like Tassie's Relationships Act (which also required a whole pile of amendments to other legislation) was a more sensible way to go, and extends to defacto hetero couples and also to other care/dependance relationships."

And do you know how exactly it did this, saint? By establishing categories of legally-recognised relationships that include a wide
range of non-conjugal unions, wiping from Tasmania's books terms like "marriage", "husband", "wife", "spouse", and "de facto partner", and doing with concepts like "till death us do part" and "to the exclusion of all others". That is, it basically did away with marriage all together!

Honestly, the Tasmanian model is much more "radical" and "undermining" of marriage than the ACT model. Those who argue otherwise (as Janet Albrechtsen did so poorly recently) really are genuinely ignorant of what has been enacted in Tasmania.

"No I am not sorry."

I don't ask you to be, merely to be accurate and fully cognisant of the facts.

"But I think he too would understand that marriage is not a 'human right" in the classical sense of the term."

Which is why the ACT government opted for CIVIL UNIONS instead, and made explicitly clear in s 5 of the Bill that a civil union is different from marriage. If Ruddock wants to quote one half-sentence out of context to justify his argument, Stanhope can easily do likewise to justify his.

"But everyone knows all this which is why Stanhope is not without responsibility here."

So you're saying Stanhope should never bother attempting to legislate for the ACT, because when the Howard government overturns what he does in such a devious, under-handed manner (as identified above), it's Stanhope's fault? Talk about blaming the victim.

For the record, I've mostly avoided terms like 'homophobia' and 'gay hate' in this because I believe they're emotive terms without much use here. I don't imagine you or indeed John Howard hate gays any more than the "Howard-haters" supposedly hate Howard.

I do, however, hate the approach he has taken in this issue. I hate that he has helped to legitimise the perception of same-sex relationships as inferior, and I hate that he has once again used queer people as pawns for his own agenda and facilitated those people and organisations I do consider to be homophobic.

At 16/6/06 12:58 pm, Blogger Sam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 16/6/06 1:02 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Oh, and I'm pleased to hear you have "reasonable" gay and lesbian friends/colleagues, saint. Most of my straight friends are, too.

Do me a favour: direct your reasonable G&L friends to the Oakes article, then after they've read it ask them if they still believe what Howard/Ruddock did was OK or defensible. My guess is most will not.

You don't have to be a pro-marriage or politically active - sorry, "gay agenda"-pushing - queer person to be upset about this, merely have a modicum of self-respect and some passing fondness for democracy.

At 16/6/06 1:21 pm, Anonymous Neil (Ninglun) said...

What "gay agenda"? When gays etc can agree on an agenda, you can be sure the Second Coming has taken place...

Like "the homosexual lobby", the "gay agenda" is a paranoid cliche. I think so anyway...

At 16/6/06 1:54 pm, Blogger Ron said...

The Homosexual Agenda.

At 16/6/06 2:25 pm, Blogger Jeremy said...

Ron, genius. I hadn't realised that old Onion piece was still online.

Deserves to be forwarded to any idiot who even mentions the words "gay agenda".

At 16/6/06 5:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam - I can give you names of people who helped draft the Tasmanian Relationships Act and yes I have spoken to one in particular directly and at length. And yes I was well aware of the key mover behind that. And no it does not undermine marriage or the meaning of marriage.

"So you're saying Stanhope should never bother attempting to legislate for the ACT, because when the Howard government overturns what he does in such a devious, under-handed manner (as identified above), it's Stanhope's fault? Talk about blaming the victim."

I am saying Stanhope was stupid. He put himself in a position to get shafted - perhaps to make a political point - who knows. At best, you can say he got outmanoeuvered.

Even Entsch is on record saying that the Act was unecessarily provocative (and from what I now know of it, badly drafted as well). He was inviting trouble with that Act and only a fool would have thought the Feds were going to ignore it.

As I have said before, gay activists and their supporters, particularly on the Labor side of politics, are their own worst enemy.


At 16/6/06 5:41 pm, Blogger Sam said...

"As I have said before, gay activists and their supporters, particularly on the Labor side of politics, are their own worst enemy."

But just saying something repeatedly doesn't make it any less untrue, saint.

I'd say the fact that almost all the state same-sex couple legislative reforms have happened under Labor governments is a pretty good indicator of the success of the very hard-working lobbyists who've worked within the Labor party to bring about positive change.

As for external queer lobbyists, the best ones will always work as best they can with both sides of politics, no matter how intransigent a particular government shows itself to be.

"Even Entsch is on record saying that the Act was unecessarily provocative."

I know - what a shock! Entsch shifting blame away from his own government and onto a Labor one. Wouldn't have seen that coming at all!

"At best, you can say he got outmanoeuvered."

No, at best you can say Howard quite ingeniously and very diabolically sabotaged the legislation to satisfy his own personal vendetta. He's once again proved that he is - and I mean this in the worst possible way - a masterful politician.

At 16/6/06 8:24 pm, Blogger Jeremy said...

I wouldn't bother with Saint, Sam. He's not interested in a genuine debate, he's just interested in throwing out his unhelpful negative generalisations in the hope that someone will eventually believe one of them.

You could read his efforts debating me on his own thread, but they're fairly unedifying.

The worst is his pretence that he's "open to being persuaded", but he's clearly, palpably, demonstrably not. He has his innate prejudices on the subject, which he's elevated to the level of PRINCIPLES without having the faintest idea how to defend them cogently.

I'm not bothering with him any more, anyway.

At 16/6/06 11:58 pm, Blogger WhimAndAPrayer said...

It's the disingenuity of comments like Saint's that really stick in the craw. As if people with his view actually give two hoots about the welfare and happiness of same-sex attracted folk. Pfft!

Like most that oppose same-sex rights (including Jane Albretchsen writing for The Australian recently), Saint warns of "implications and flow on effects [of same-sex relationship recognition that are] not good. Yet none of them can ever substantiate this claim in a specific & meaningful way that is relevant to ordinary people and the mosaic of human life.

The more fair-minded folk that witness their inability to substantiate such absurb paranoia, the sooner change for the better will come.

At 17/6/06 5:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well sorry to disappoint you homoactivist, but you, like me, are on the internet. And there is a wealth of stuff around, pro and con about gay marriage, and there is also a wealth of news on developments in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, the U.S. etc on implications.

While the Australian context is different I cannot for a moment ignore that globalisation, networking etc. will not mean we will have similar pressures here or that people aren't aware of activist tactics.

And you won't find me complaining about Tasmania's act. Compared to the ACT it was a better way to go.

But no, it's not about discrimination is it? For some, removing discrimination is not enough (and I am well aware how divided even the GLBT community is on this issue). No, some of you want a full recognition of gay marriage as equal in all respects to marriage between man and woman. That it is perfectly good and acceptable and equal and moral in all respects to marriage between man and woman, and "families" founded by gay and lesbian couplings deserve to be protected by society and state. That goes to changing something very fundamental in our society, in the way we live together and in the way we raise children. For you to think that people will just go "Yes indeed! Of course! I believe!" is folly.

What this has done for me is forced me to draw together some of the arguments for gay marriage that I have heard over the years, of the underlying assumptions and end points, and put them together, along with what I know of the experience in other nations; I indicated in my post that a civil union that replicates marriage, is not a good thing.

Lefty himself was the first to rally others to come and "change my mind". Well, I didn't hear anything new from Lefty from what I had summarised in my original post - and it was only a summary playing on some of the comments at his blog. And when he and others in the blogosphere started to feign shock that I somehow had left some imaginary side down - it never occurs to those who had put me in a box that I had never put myself in any box, nor could they accept that my blog is a hobby not an activist site or a place for writing treatises - well that reaction, and Lefty's response in particular (thanks Lefty) really got me thinking about the mindset that leads to crap like this and children being used as pawns as they have here.

And then when I visited the parents the other day, I thought, if I support this, then what does that mean about how I view all other marriages, including those in my own family. What is it that I would be saying even to my own parents who have overcome circumstances most of us would have found impossible?

Yep its personal and political.

And nope, call me what you like, include me under "fuck 'em all". Can't do that to my own family, nor to anyone else's.


At 17/6/06 9:25 am, Anonymous Neil (Ninglun) said...

Whew! Saint, no-one, least of all me and possibly Sam and Mr Lefty, is saying that fine heterosexual marriages should be done away with, so no-one's parents are being somehow impugned in all this. We all have parents. And as for marriage as, in some churches at least, a sacrament, fine; that's the church's business and they can make whatever rules they like.

What we are talking about here are 1) equality before the law and 2) extending the same respect to loving relationships that happen not to be heterosexual.

My relationship has morphed into a kind of separation, but lasted longer, as a straight and divorced female colleague said to me at the time, than most marriages these days.

Patrick White and Manoly Lascaris: forty years, wasn't it? And so on.

I believe people still get married in the UK, despite Elton John.

Why do we all get our knickers in a knot over this? Why does Howard have a problem? Perhaps we should ask his therapist, because if he isn't seeing one, I think he should...

At 17/6/06 9:44 am, Blogger Jeremy said...

And when he and others in the blogosphere started to feign shock that I somehow had left some imaginary side down

When did I suggest that I thought you were part of some lefty "box"? No, the only way you let me down is that previously you'd seemed to be a reasonable chap with a brain between his ears, but on this issue you've demonstrated yourself to be a closed-minded illogical twat. (If you don't mind my saying so.)

removing discrimination is not enough (and I am well aware how divided even the GLBT community is on this issue). No, some of you want a full recognition of gay marriage as equal in all respects to marriage between man and woman.

Who are the idiots in the GLBT community who reckon they should be denied the same rights as heterosexuals? (Although I suppose there were some women who argued against their having the vote.)

Removing discrimination REQUIRES treating gay marriage as "equal in all respects" as heterosexual marriage. That's what removing discrimination means. Anything less than equality on an issue like this is discrimination.

There might be people prepared to cop a half-arsed "civil union" equivalent in the meantime, but, really, why? The only reason to differentiate between gay and straight marriage is if you think one is inferior to the other, and that's what having two different names for it does.

If it looks like a marriage, if it's identical to a marriage in every respect (apart from the gender of the partners), then it's a smegging marriage.

What is it that I would be saying even to my own parents who have overcome circumstances most of us would have found impossible?

Absolutely nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. This is the single stupidest and most offensive argument you've run, that treating gays equally to straights is an insult to straights.

John and Joe getting married changes your parents' marriage NOT ONE JOT.

(Unless you're saying that your mum/dad have only kept themselves straight all these years because of the lack of gay marriage, and that they'll be out hunting for gay partners as soon as gay marriage comes in. I think your mum - given your description of her at your blog - might whack you for that suggestion.)

At 17/6/06 11:37 am, Anonymous Bazza said...

Saint. Stanhope had a Mandate.

At 17/6/06 3:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly, nothing has hardened me more to fight for 100% equal marriage and rights for same-sex people (no shillyshallying about with second-class 'civil unions') than Saint's words here and his/her blog.

The offensive nonsense about the parent's marriage reads like evidence of a mental disorder. And is offensive to so many people not the least the subjects of the absurd argument.

Saint, you are far from having any resemblence to the Internet name you use.

At 19/6/06 11:40 pm, Blogger WhimAndAPrayer said...

Saint, you continue to imply that same-sex relationship recognition (particularly marriage) will be harmful somehow. Yet predictably you fail to articulate how.

You mention the "wealth of developments in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, the US" but fail to identify those developments or how they invalidate the notion of same-sex relationship recognition.

Keep up the good work. Each time you put up strawmen arguments like this, the more reasonable people will turn from your blinkered, flimsy, paranoid arguments.

At 21/6/06 6:26 am, Blogger megapouf said...

A marriage, as we currently organise it in Australia (and manyother countries) is a two part business, but people get confused because both parts can and frequently do happen in the same place at the sme time.
In France, for example, the two parts are separated - the civil marriage takes place at the town hall and is carried out by government officials. This is the only part of the business that has legal standing. It's exactly the same as a registy-office wedding here. Then the religious marriage takes place in the church. This has no legal standing without the civil stuff, but most people choose to have one anyway.
Here we confuse the issue by having the religious ceremony (which also has no legal standing) and the civil stuff - basically the signing of the register - together, administered by the same person - the priest - acting as both religious celebrant and civil registrar.
What we need to do is remove the power of the clergy to act as civil registrars, then open civil marriage to all couples regardles off gender.
The chuches can decide for themelves who they will conduct their marriage ceremonies for, but they will continue to have no legal standing unless the couple also have a civil marriage at the registry office.
That way we have our civil rights, and they keep their holy matrimony.

At 21/6/06 8:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saint, you are... bewildering. That's all I can say.

I have a friend who is very religious. She is the best example of religious fervour I have ever met - best as in good, by the way. She honestly lives her life the way she believes God wants her to, and she is good to everyone, works hard, etc etc etc.

She doesn't like homosexuality, because the bible says it is wrong. However, other parts of the bible say that marriage is better than sin, and so she thinks that allowing gay people to marry is actually a good thing (if I understood what she said correctly - my own religious study is not the most complete).

This was from someone I consider to be a "fundamentalist", but a good one. She said quite clearly that gay people marrying could not affect her marriage one jot - the only people who can are herself and her husband.

I think that more people should think about that one. Allowing equal rights does not make existing marriages less special. Any hardships overcome have still been overcome; any vows made are still valid. Saint, your parents marriage is obviously special, and I can assure you that if I am allowed to marry my girlfriend, then your parents marriage will not suddenly become any less special for it.

I read some of your site, Saint... it made me feel bad, and I stopped reading it when I felt as if my self-esteem was flowing too quickly away from me... I am sorry that you think that homosexuals are self-absorbed, and always go "me, me, me". I am sorry that you think that there is something wrong with us because we are hung up on the one issue that the public shows disgust toward us for. But I will tell you, it is very *hard* not to be hung up on a point where you get told constantly that you are not as good. If it were something that was a "non-issue", then none of us would be hung up on it any more than you are. I suppose you could say that the "gay agenda" is about getting to that point.

I have another friend who is 5'9 and under 60kg. She is tall(ish), slim (nearly to the point of being skinny), and gorgeous, and she can have any guy she wants. Thing is, her mother has been telling her she is fat for her whole life, and so she is hung up on her weight, and still thinks she is fat.

The reason I tell you this, Saint, is because this is an example of a person being hung up on something because it has always been told to her as a "bad thing". Yes, it's annoying to hear her drone on about her weight, but she's my friend and I understand why she is hung up on it, and I will listen. I urge you to do the same with your gay friends - understand that they have a hurt, that they have been told they are less valuable their whole life, and that they need to be heard.

And please, don't call all of us "self-obsessed". Maybe we're "self-conscious", but the other just sounds far too accusing, and hurtful. If you can't listen to your friends (and I have read that most men can't, so don't feel inadequate if this is the case), then just ignore the issue. Being treated as "normal" is as good as being listened to for most of us... when it becomes a non-issue, then no one will need to be hung-up over their sexuality ever again.

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