Tag Archives: Christianity

Marriage Equality – again

So last night the Liberal Party and the National Party held a meeting for over 5 hours to discuss whether or not the party would allow a free conscience vote (which still would have not gotten the required numbers over the line) or whether they’d all vote as a block and therefore and vote No.  The block voting won (in case you didn’t know).

Not enough has been said about this debate taking over 5 hours in my opinion.  Over 5 hours.

I hate meetings at the best of times, finding them an incredible waste of time when I could be doing the stuff that is discussed, but this meeting went FOR OVER 5 HOURS.  That’s 5 hours of impassioned debate about an issue that is important (not the most important, but still).  An issue that is capturing the world’s attention.  An issue that reduces the active amount of discrimination in the world.  A few years ago, we would have been lucky if that party room discussion went for an hour.

Just this year Ireland, the United States of America and Mexico have allowed same-sex marriage, adding to a long list of countries in which it is already legal.  The referendum in Ireland with the majority of voters voting yes, and the Supreme Court decision in the USA have been big drivers to get marriage equality back into Parliamentary debate here in Australia, and it’s not going anywhere soon

I’m grateful that some LNP politicians have my back on at least one issue that can affect me.  I’m not generally the type to support the LNP (queer, left leaning woman who is big on social justice), but it’s good to see that some of the party has actively thought about what is good for Australia and Australians and decided that if over 70% of Australians support marriage equality, then perhaps that’s something that should be recognised.

Now I’m going to take a small detour here and talk about some bigoted arsehats who have weighed in on this debate in one for or another recently.  This is where the post is going to be long, but will hopefully still make sense.  Ok, I’m ranting, leave me my ranting space.

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)

Fierravanti-Wells told the party room yesterday that:

…she believed opinion polls showing majority support for legalising same-sex marriage did not reflect the views of a “silent majority” of Australian voters.

She said changing the marriage laws – or being seen to condone change – would cost the Coalition seats at the next election.

The senator referred to an analysis she had undertaken which identified marginal seats with high percentages of religious voters.

A copy of the analysis, dated July 3, lists 14 seats across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania with relatively high proportions of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim or Buddhist voters or overseas-born voters from ethnic communities likely to oppose same-sex marriage.

In a written foreword to her analysis, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary for social services, also responsible for multicultural affairs, says she believes there is strong opposition among culturally and religiously diverse communities to changing the marriage laws.

Ok, let’s just start with a majority says X, so a “silent majority” says Y.  I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells does maths.  Also, I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells has actually spoken to anyone of these people she’s using to support her argument against marriage equality.  She claims that:

She notes that faith leaders from across Australia had written to the Government in June, objecting to any change.

Her analysis includes the western Sydney seat of Barton, the Liberals’ most marginal seat, held by Liberal Nickolas Varvaris on 50.31 per cent.

She says Barton has nearly eight times the proportion of eastern Orthodox constituents than the national average, four times the proportion of Muslims, a higher-than-average Greek population and fewer who said they had “no religion”.

Other western Sydney marginal seats included are Reid, Werriwa, Banks and Parramatta.

The analysis says Parramatta, held by Labor’s Julie Owens on 50.57 per cent, is 25 per cent Catholic, has 10 times the national average of voters identifying as Hindu, four times the rate identifying as Islamic and higher-than-average percentages of those born in India and Lebanon.

The first issue here is that Faith Leaders don’t represent the believes and feelings of their flocks.  I know they claim they do, but you get the Catholic and some Anglican faith leaders in Australia being bigoted arsehats, and most Catholics and Anglicans actually supporting marriage equality.  Not knowing a large number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Orthodox people, I cannot claim to know what they do and do not support, however I do note that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, and that is something that really should be taken into account.

I know I’ve said that majority of Australians more than once tonight, so let’s get that data for you.  From a report in The Age in July 2015:

Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party’s own pollster.

A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.

The survey by the Liberal Party’s national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.

It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.

According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.

And if you want something a little more recent than July this year, from Australian Marriage Equality (August 2015):

Marriage equality advocates have welcomed a new poll showing almost 60% of Australians believe marriage equality is a medium to high priority.

The poll, conducted for anti-marriage equality group, the Marriage Alliance, found that marriage equality is, on average, the 13th most important issue for Australians, about the same level of priority given to agriculture, taxation and asylum seekers.

59% of poll respondents said marriage equality is a priority, made up of 24% who said marriage equality it is a high priority and 35% said it is a medium priority. Only 39% said it is low a priority.

So even when organisations against marriage equality are attempting to poll against marriage equality, they can’t do it.

Charitably I could believe that Fierravanti-Wells really did care about the numbers and how the LNP will poll in the next election, but didn’t actually consider what she was saying – which effectively is that all religious and culturally diverse people are happy to discriminate against same-sex attracted people when it comes to marriage (or in short-hand that they are bigots).  I’m positive that this is not the case.

Kevin Donnelly

I’ve blogged about Donnelly before, he has a track record of being racist, and now he’s adding homophobic to the list.  I haven’t even read the article, I didn’t need to after seeing this headline, “Abbott made the right call on same-sex marriage“.

Donnelly tries to be clever and epically fails:

This is especially the case as many of the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are flawed. Those wanting change argue that defining marriage as involving a man and a woman discriminates against lesbians and homosexuals.

Ignored is that there are many examples where society and the law allow discrimination to occur. Women-only gyms and clubs are allowed to exclude men and those under 18 are not allowed to view X-rated films and videos.

Yes, defining marriage as only involving a man and a woman discriminates against gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people and trans people.  It’s ok Donnelly, I’m glad you forgot some of us.  The less you think about us the better off we’ll all be.

Ignored is the fact that Donnelly doesn’t understand that not all discrimination is harmful, and that children are to be protected against things that harm them.  Let’s work on the first one.  Women only gyms.  Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men than the other way around.  Therefore in the interest of safety, women only gyms exist, where men are discriminated against to protect women.  When men stop assaulting women at the current rates, then it is possible the need for women only gyms will go away.

Marriage equality harms no one, and the discrimination against same-sex coupled people who’d like to marry harms them.

Children and pornography.  I don’t even with this one Donnelly.  We have lots of laws to protect children, we have laws about who they can have sex with, we have laws about them having to go to school, we have laws about the mandatory reporting of abuse, we have laws that can result in them being removed from their homes.  It is believed that pornography will harm children, therefore children cannot see pornography.  I note that Donnelly isn’t complaining about any other laws relating to children, so I wonder why that is.

Many on the cultural left, often the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage, also argue in favour of positive discrimination where they believe some people should be treated differently to others.

Because Donnelly doesn’t understand the difference between equality and justice/equity, I give you the following image:

First image – three people are standing on boxes looking over a fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest and second tallest can see over the fence. The shortest cannot. Second image – Three people are watching a baseball game over a fence. The tallest can see over the fence. The second tallest is standing on one box to see over the fence. The shortest is standing on two boxes to see over the fence.

This is why we suggest that some people should be treated more positively – because they are coming from further behind that others.  Many people are coming from further behind than Kevin Donnelly, as we’re not all straight, white men with a platform to be vilely racist and homophobic.

Also ignored, for all intents and purposes, is that gays and lesbians already have the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.

Also ignored by Donnelly is that not all same-sex attracted people want to marry, but denying those who do is harmful.  Sure we can live in defacto relationships, and we do right now, but that isn’t the same as marriage.  If it was, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

A second strategy employed by same-sex marriage advocates is to argue that anyone who disagrees is bigoted and homophobic. Wrong. The reality is that many of those opposed to redefining marriage do so for sound and carefully thought through reasons.

I love this comment, it is a comment I see all the time.  “I’m not bigoted and homophobic, I’ve thought about some really good reasons why I oppose granting rights to same-sex attracted people that would do me no harm whatsoever.”  I am also yet to meet a good argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t in the end reduce down to either “my religion is homophobic, not me”, or “because gay sex is icky” which are both homophobic.

As Andrew P Street wrote, “And if you are, in fact, a bigot, then it shouldn’t bother you that people are accurately assessing your shortcomings as a human being on the basis of the things you believe, based on the stuff you say.”  Donnelly continues:

When arguing that the definition of marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples, advocates often argue that the love between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is the same as that experienced by heterosexuals.

From a biological point of view, such is clearly not the case. Such is the physiology involved in procreation, and not withstanding the availability of surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation, that it requires a man and a woman. The optimum environment in which to raise a child also involves a mother and a father.

Oh yeah, I forgot the third way, the reproductive argument.  If two people of the same gender can’t have children, their relationship is worth less than those that can, because apparently all we’re about is having children.  Let’s not look at the treatment of those children by heterosexual people. Let’s especially not look at the really positive outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents.  Let’s leave Donnelly to his little bigoted world where LGBTI people are worse people than heterosexual people.  He’s wrong of course, we’re pretty fucking awesome.

Michael Jensen

This piece is from May and I’ve been putting off on blogging about it because it’s so full of complete and utter rubbish that it isn’t really worth mentioning – except that it’s another white, Christian man telling us that he isn’t really a bigot for not supporting marriage equality, “I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)“:

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

I do wonder how anyone can stand opposed without actually being a bigot.

It is not even the case that “all the surveys say Australians want it” is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don’t listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

I’ve seen this argument before and it’s an interesting one.  It’s particularly fascinating that the death penalty is brought into an argument, to contrast something where no one gets hurt.  On one side you have the violent end of someone’s life, on the other side you have two consenting adults committing to their relationship in front of family and friends, and having the Government, and other bodies that need to, recognising that relationship legally.  It’s not like they are even remotely in the same class of things.

Should the Australian Government listen to the people in all things?  Should the Australian Government take the lead on some things so that the better interest is served?  Wouldn’t it be best if the Australian Government was abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality?  The Australian Government should be about the best human rights that we can grant to each other.  That includes being abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality.  There we go, I solved that one for you.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly “equal” treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

Except that marriage has changed multiple times over millennia and the world didn’t end.  Men used to marry their property, which then begat more property which they’d consent to have married off to other men, unless some of that property were male, in which case they’d become human whenever the age of adulthood was at that time.  Men now marry women, and both people have to consent to the marriage.  Men used to also marry lots of property, they’d have multiple property all over the place, sometimes it mattered if the property consented to more property being married, sometimes it didn’t.  It used to be that you couldn’t marry without your parents’ consent, and most marriages were arranged.

If marriage can change to be what it is now, then it can change to include same-sex couples who want to marry.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Blah, blah, blah – see argument about children above. Also, to erase other gendered people from the conversation is an arse move Mr Jensen.

Look I really don’t understand why so many people are frightened of marriage equality.  If it creates something new, something that currently discriminated people can engage in, what is the problem with that?  Do so many of these bigots believe that the moment marriage equality is granted those who would have otherwise married someone of the opposite sex will suddenly rush out and go and marry someone of the same sex?  Do they think that being queer is contagious and it’s only the shame of being queer, and the inability to marry that keeps opposite sex marriage going?  Do they think that suddenly everyone will stop having children, or start ignoring children, and suddenly there won’t be a human race any more?

There are FAR more important issues facing the earth today than marriage equality.  Granting marriage equality makes the lives of many of my queer siblings better.  It does not save the environment, it does not refreeze the glaciers, it does not bring endangered creatures back from the brink of extinction.  It certainly doesn’t help asylum seekers or bring peace to nations at war.  It does make a difference though, and that difference is one that has been made in many other places already and it helps.

Granting marriage equality helps, and granting it means that people like me can marry if they want.  Families can recognise the relationships of their children and parents.  Relationships that until relatively recently were looked at as deviant and different can instead be shown to be as valued as the opposite sex relationships they are surrounded by.  It means that children who are growing up queer know that if they wish to get married and be like their friends in opposite sex relationships, they can.  Think of the children, think of those who you’re denying the ability to be normal.

 

 

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The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

A few months ago I was having a conversation about the difference between some forms of Western Spirituality and Eastern Spirituality, and why some Westerners are so attracted to forms of Eastern Spirituality. In the end, we reached the conclusion that it might be due to some forms of Eastern Spirituality focusing on being present in the body and most forms of Western Spirituality essentially viewing the body as an evil necessity before you move onto the afterlife.

This then tied into some thoughts I had about yoga, and then some more thoughts I had when my yoga instructor told the class to be and feel heavy, to let our weight sink into the floor, and to let our legs and feet support us, not our shoulders or neck.  The mindfullness meditation that I do from time to time, also focuses on being in the body, on being present in the moment, and focusing on the breath, on the sensations of sitting or lying still for a period.

This blog post, which I will attempt to selectively quote from, pretty much sums up my experience of Christian teachings (Catholic for the most part) in relation to the body versus the soul:

Many of the early church Fathers were educated in Greek philosophy or came under its influence. The result was an amalgamation of Christian theology with Greek philosophy.

The theology of the early Middle Ages was dominated by the towering figure of Augustine of Hippo, who completed the fusion of the Pauline emphasis of sin and grace through faith with a Neoplatonic view of man that stressed the imprisonment of the soul in the body. This dualism led to an increasing asceticism in the life of the medieval church, which meant an attitude of indifference or even outright hostility toward the body. The official theology of the church concentrated on getting the soul of the believer into heaven, through the Sacraments, or at least on saving it from hell, as the doctrine of purgatory developed. —James N. Lapsley, Salvation and Health, p.39.

Coming down to the medieval period, Lapsley continues:

If the health of the body was not forgotten, it was once again generally relegated to the status of a matter of relative indifference, which might as well be sacrificed to gain eternal bliss. This was the situation that obtained as Martin Luther grew toward manhood at the turn of the sixteenth century.  —Ibid., p.41.

The medieval church did not understand what the New Testament meant by “flesh” and “spirit.” In real Greek fashion she understood these terms to designate two parts of man — the higher and lower natures. Since things like body, work, eating and sexuality belonged to the “flesh,” they were regarded as inferior functions, if not tainted with evil. On the other hand, prayers, fasting, celibacy and religious tasks were regarded as “spiritual” and therefore superior, if not meritorious.

Or a concept of “soul-salvation” which is not a “whole-salvation” can lead people to think that since God is not very concerned with the body, neither should they be too concerned about how they treat the body. It is amazing how many Christians think that they display their spirituality by neglecting the body. If they hasten a coronary by bad living habits, they think that this will be a good testimony of their dedication to the Lord’s work.

It makes sense then that those people attracted to religions and forms of spirituality that focus on being present in your own body, treating it well, and stepping gently on the world around you, are not going to be attracted to Christianity necessarily.  It makes sense that people who want to look after themselves, their environment, and their planet are attracted to forms of belief, exercise and spirituality that support those things.

This is, in part, why I do yoga as a form of exercise.  It’s one that recognises my body, my journey through life, my ability, and is patient with where I am at today.  I am not after the spiritual aspects of yoga, but being a form of meditation and exercise that developed from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophy, it is differently grounded to the philosophies that I grew up with.  When I did ballet as a child, we were not taught to move with our breath, to ground ourselves and be connected to the ground we stood on, and we were not taught how to breathe properly (being a singer helped there).  Instead we were taught to be as light as air (which is funny in retrospect), to glide, gracefully above the earth as if we were not made from it.  Fencing, my preferred form of competitive sport, is again a sport about being light, and nimble – and one not designed so well for women, but that’s a different story.

To take up room, to be heavy, to be your body are radical notions in Western Christian philosophy where the body is seen as something that carries around the soul while you do enough good deeds to get into your deity’s good books before being allowed to be rewarded with heaven after you die.

 

 

Oh, and I chose the title of this blog, as one of the worst lines in the Bible – the need to sleep, to eat, to live are seen as a weakness versus things that actually need to be addressed.

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The last day of summer linkspam (February 2014)

We come to the end of a rather hot summer, though the past few days have been spring/autumn like (for a change), and I have been remiss, because I’ve been busy, in putting together my collection of interesting links and stuff to share.  So here it is.

Philip Guo at Slate writes, “Silent Technical Privilege“:

OK, all of the above was a lie. With one exception: That is me in the photo. When it was taken, I didn’t even know how to touch-type. My parents were just like, “Quick, pose in front of our new computer!” (Look closely. My fingers aren’t even in the right position.) My parents were both humanities majors, and there wasn’t a single programming book in my house. In sixth grade I tried teaching myself BASIC for a few weeks, but quit because it was too hard. The only real exposure I had to programming prior to college was taking AP computer science in 11th grade, taught by a math teacher who had learned the material only a month before class started. Despite its shortcomings, that class inspired me to major in computer science in college. But when I started freshman year at MIT, I felt a bit anxious because many of my classmates actually did have over 10 years of childhood programming experience; I had less than one.

Even though I didn’t grow up in a tech-savvy household and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming.

At Politically Homeless, “Scott Morrison should be sacked“:

It strains credibility that the Navy veered off course and did not realise its vessels were in Indonesian waters. The Navy sent its vessels where government told them to go, and did what government told them to do. It is not OK to blame the military for government policy blunders, and ultimately such a tactic will work against the government rather than the military.

From now on people in the military are more likely to leak against this government. People in the military are more likely to have credibility that politicians lack. Any difference of opinion between a politician and the military will be resolved in favour of the military (with the possible exception of bullying allegations). When you consider that military personnel vote Coalition more than any other occupational grouping, this is a political own-goal as well as a governmental one.

Boing Boing have embedded Jay Smooth’s fantastic video, “How to talk about race, productively“, and apart from it being brilliant, is it just me or does Jay Smooth have one of the most amazing speaking voices ever?

Rafe Posey at BuzzFeed writes, “How To Write About Transgender People“:

2. Use your subject’s preferred name, pronoun, and picture.

When was the last time someone asked you to prove that you’re a man or a woman, or that your name and the gender marker on your driver’s license match what’s on your birth certificate? We will tell you who we are. Your job is to listen, not to decide that you have a better idea about who we are just because you think we are “confused.” We don’t need you to explain our identities to us, and we do not need your permission.

Use the names, pronouns, and pictures that we provide. If you are honestly confused, ask politely what our preferences are, and then honor our answers. If we provide information in confidence, don’t reveal that information.

Aaminah Khan at Days Like Crazy Paving writes, “The invisible girl – bisexuality in a biphobic society“:

I’m a bisexual woman in a relationship with a straight man. That means I don’t exist.

You see, in order for society to accept me as bi, they need to see evidence. If I’m not neck-deep in a threesome with an attractive woman on one side and a strapping man on the other, how can they be expected to tell that I’m not monosexual? If I’m dating a woman, I must be lesbian. If I’m dating a man, I must be straight. Unless I’m dating both at the same time, I can’t be bisexual.

The first person to tell me I wasn’t “really” bi was a gay friend of mine. I believe I’ve told the story before, so I won’t retread old ground, but suffice to say that while he was the first, he certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve heard it all – it’s just a phase, I’m fence-sitting so I don’t have to pick a side, I’m greedy, I’ll cheat on my partner, I’m just doing it for the attention, I just don’t want to come out of the closet. It seems everyone has a theory about my sexuality that they’re just dying to share with me, as though they’re the first people ever to think of it. (Yeah, I’ve never heard the one about how I can’t be bi because I’m not poly before. You’re so original!) You’d think I’d know my sexuality better than a stranger, but in a world where anything perceived as differing from the norm instantly becomes fair game for public discussion and dissection, it seems the only person who isn’t a self-proclaimed expert on my sexuality is…me.

Rohin Guha at Jezebel writes, “The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture“:

It’s a dirty secret of a subculture of the gay male world about women: That they’re essentially unwelcome, unless they come to us as a Real Housewife, a pop diva, or an Tony award winner–or an unassuming fag hag. To anyone just coming out of the closet and hoping to get his bearings in the gay male community, the attitude towards women is simple: They are just objects whose function is to serve gay men. Maybe it happens when gay men get too comfortable in newly-discovered safe spaces–where they get to call the shots as their proudly out new selves. Or maybe it happens through cultural conditioning. Whatever the cause is, it becomes clear: If there isn’t any kind of transactional exchange happening, then women lose their value in gay male subcultures.

Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement“:

The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.

This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.

He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

Cooper Fleishman at The Daily Dot writes, “The ‘girlfriendzone’ flips the ‘friendzone’ myth on its head“:

So here’s something new: a reaction to the friendzone, called the “girlfriendzone.” It comes from Reddit, whose feministcommunities are becoming an increasingly large presence in the culture there, calling out bullshit and misogyny and forming a safe space for women to converse openly and honestly. Or to give advice to male redditors.

“She’s not friendzoned you, OP,” ObscenePenguin writes. “You’ve girlfriendzoned her. … Seeing a female friend only as a girlfriend is girlfriendzoning.”

It’s flipping the script: identifying the friendzone as an entirely male creation, and putting the onus on dudes not to be entitled pricks about it when girls don’t throw themselves at them.

Jim C Hines writes a very detailed response to Larry Correia’s article in which Larry suggests that requests for science fiction to be more inclusive are killing the genre (which is why we have such great things as Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter which has been successfully funded).  Jim’s article is titled, “Fiskception: Dissecting Correia’s Critique of MacFarlane“.

Cosima Marriner at Fairfax writes “Study finds same-sex parenting is not harmful for children“, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  Also not coming as a surprise, but frustrating, is that this article is dumped in “Life & Style” and therefore less than “news”.

Children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well in their education, emotional and social development as those raised by heterosexual parents, new research shows.

The report on same sex-parented families in Australia, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), found “there is now strong evidence that same-sex-parented families constitute supportive environments in which to raise children”.

The findings are at odds with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s recent comments that the “gold standard” for children’s development is having a biological mother and father who are married.

Report author Deb Dempsey, who reviewed all the research on same sex-parented families, said there was a wealth of evidence that showed the children were doing fine.

Taryn Fox guest posts at Geek Feminism with, “How to kill someone without pulling the trigger“:

The “Just World” fallacy

This is a fancy name for the idea that people tend to get what they deserve. Here in the States, we call it “liberty” and “objectivism” and “reducing dependence on government.” In the Linux and Free Software communities, we call it “meritocracy.”

It’s an extremely convenient belief to have if you’re at the top of your pecking order. It tells you that you deserve to be there, because of how awesome you are. And it tells you not to worry about anybody beneath you, because if they’re deserving they’ll make it eventually. And if they’re not, well, don’t worry about it. It’s their fault, and helping them will just keep them dependent on you. Better to throw them out of the nest and watch their carcasses smear on the rocks, until you find one that can fly like you could.

This mindset stigmatizes being weak or in need of help. It turns being a newb, at life or at Linux, into something to be ashamed of. And when you have this mindset yourself, and are weak or injured, you’re ashamed of everything. You have a desperate need to please others and show that your life is worthwhile. You’re afraid to admit failure, to yourself or to anyone else, because you know that you’ll be destroyed and it’ll be your fault.

Faine Greenwood writes at SF Gate, “Gender gap: Men getting paid more than women in Silicon Valley“:

Men who hold graduate or professional degrees earn a whopping 73 percent more than women with the same educational qualifications, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 40 percent more than women with the same credentials, the study found.

Income inequality by gender is worse in Silicon Valley than it is for the whole of California: U.S. Census Bureau figures found that males with professional or graduate degrees earn 52 percent more than women when the entire population is taken into account, while men with a bachelor’s degree earn 36 percent more.

Interestingly, the situation in Silicon Valley is actually getting better, notes Rachel Massaro, vice president and senior researcher at Joint Venture Silicon Valley, who crunched the numbers.

“In 2010, men with a graduate or professional degree earned 97 percent more than women with a grad or professional degree,” she said.

Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives writes, “Florida Ordinance Makes it Illegal for Homeless to Use Blankets to Protect Themselves from Weather“, which has since been reversed as reported by T.S. Strickland at PNJ, “Hayward changes course on Pensacola homeless blanket ban“.

Tofik Dibi at Vice writes, “Life as a Gay Imam Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds“:

Just about every predominantly Muslim country forbids homosexuality. In nine of those countries, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. But the thing is, the whole Islamic prejudice against gays seems to be based on one monumental misconception: that certain verses in the Qur’an about Sodom and Gomorrah condemn homosexuality. They do not, according to Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, Daayiee Abdullah, and Muhsin Hendricks, three openly gay imams I spoke to who are trying to end the marginalization inflicted on LGBT Muslims because of their sexuality.

Tina Vasquez writes at bitchmedia, “It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women*trigger warning transphobia and Cathy Brennan*:

This debate is not just feminist-theory inside baseball. Though outspoken, politically active trans-exclusionary radical feminists are relatively few in number, their influence on legislation and mainstream perceptions of transgender people is powerful and real.

For example, transgender people were able to readily obtain government-funded healthcare prior to 1980. That year, Janice Raymond wrote a report for the Reagan administration called “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery” which informed the official federal position on medical care for transgender people. The paper’s conclusion reads, “The elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery, but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping.” In her book Transgender History, Susan Stryker says that the government curtailed transgender access to government social services under Reagan, “In part in response to anti-transgender feminist arguments that dovetailed with conservative politics.”

These days, trans-exclusionary feminists’ voices seem louder than ever, as they use social media to amplify their message. If you start following feminist conversations online, at first it seems like there’s a chorus of individuals running websites that speak out against the dangers of accepting transgender women as women. But then it becomes clear that numerous websites and Twitter feeds come from just one person: Cathy Brennan. On her personal site, Brennan lists her numerous blogs: Gender Fatigue (which recently published a tirade about Janet Mock’s gender that would make Piers Morgan blush), Pretendbians (devoted to documenting transgender people who “oppress Lesbians”), Name the Problem (which posts mugshots of alleged sex offenders along with write-ups about trans activists), the aforementioned Gender Identity Watch (which posits to watch “legal developments that erase female reality”), and a private site called Fauxmosexuals.

Laurie Penny at New Statesmen writes, “The way we talk about rape and abuse is changing*trigger warning rape*:

Rape culture means more than a culture in which rape is routine. Rape culture involves the systematic silencing of victims even as women and children are instructed to behave like potential victims at all times. In order to preserve rape culture, society at large has to believe two different things at once. Firsty, that women and children lie about rape, but that they should also act as if rape will be the result if they get into a strange car, walk down a strange street or wear a sexy outfit. Secondly, if it happens, it’s their own fool fault for not respecting the unwritten rules.

This paradox involves significant mental gymnastics. But as more and more people come forward with accusations, as the pattern of historical and ongoing abuse of power becomes harder to ignore, the paradox gets harder to maintain. We are faced with two alternatives: either women and children are lying about rape on an industrial, organised scale, or rape and sexual abuse are endemic in this society, and have been for centuries. Facing up to the reality of the latter is a painful prospect.

Mia McKenzie from Black Girl Dangerous writes, “4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege“:

3. Shut up

This one is so, so important. If you are a person with a lot of privilege (i.e. a white, straight, able-bodied, class-privileged, cisgender male or any combination of two or more of those) and you call yourself being against oppression, then it should be part of your regular routine to sit the hell down and shut the eff up. If you can recognize that part of the reason your opinion, your voice, carries so much weight and importance is because you are a white man (or whatever combination is working for you), then pushing back against your privilege often looks like shutting your face. Now, of course, using your privilege to speak out against oppression is very important. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about chiming in, taking up space, adding your two cents, playing devil’s advocate, etc. when 1) no one asked you, 2) the subject matter is outside your realm of experience (why do you even think you get to have an opinion about the lives of black women??), 3) anything you say is just going to cause more harm because your voice, in and of itself, is a reminder that you always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others.

Rebecca Shaw writes at SBS, “Comment: Why it matters that Ellen Page came out“:

Her nervousness instantly took me back to the night that I first spoke those words out loud to another human being. It was one of the scariest things that I have ever done, and I remember the clenched feeling in my chest, my stomach rolling with nerves.

We were sitting outside in the cold, and I can still see my breath coming out hard and fast into the night air. I was terrified – and drunk. And yet, I knew that the person I was telling would be 100 per cent fine with it. In fact, I knew that she probably already knew. It didn’t matter. Saying those words out loud, even to an incredibly receptive crowd (like the HRC) is petrifying.

Brocklesnitch writes, “Biscaryials“:

Take Olympic diver Tom Daley. Don’t you think it is weird that he seemed so COMFORTABLE saying that he still fancies women while dating a MAN? Someone has obviously been taking acting lessons from Dustin Lance Orange is the New Black!! How else could you explain that he seemed content to imply that he is attracted to both sexes? That is just not possible. They are so different! Men like doing things like sports and beer and women like doing things like shopping and wine! How the fuck could you ever be attracted to both of those, like some sort of hybrid human who could enjoy beer AND wine? Or sports AND shopping?

leenamielus at Facetruth writes, “I Took Off My Hijab“:

By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.

I didn’t understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet.

Maybe I was finally fitting in? Maybe I was no longer self conscious about my unique dress code and a face lacking makeup?

But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.

Jacqueline Applebee at Blogging in Shadows writes, “Biphobia“:

The bank I work for starts an LGBT networking group.  I don’t quite believe it is real until I enter a room full of happy faces.  Queer staff and their partners from all over the South-East have travelled to our Brighton head office to take part in the launch.  Of course, Biphobia turns up to the event too.  He sloshes down bottles of wine, and eats all the sausage rolls.

A senior cashier from Littlehampton corners me by the windows.  “Did you bring your girlfriend with you?” she asks.

“I have a boyfriend,” I respond before I can stop myself.  “He was busy.”

The cashier looks like I’ve slapped her.  “This group is vitally important for gays and lesbians.  It’s not for straights.”

“I’m bisexual.”  I’m aware my voice is a whisper.  I’m aware I don’t want anyone else to hear me.  Biphobia slips an arm around my shoulder.  I feel totally intimidated.

Alan Austin at Independent Australia writes, “Churches combine to condemn Abbott’s evils“:

Last month, IAlisted several transgressions which have dismayed Roman Catholics. These include bioethical issues, persistent blatant lying, dudding Indigenous people, cutting overseas aid, abusing vulnerable people, militarism, spying and redistributing wealth and income in favour of the rich.

Since then, further wrongs have provoked the outrage of Catholics and Protestants alike.

What seems most offensive, however, is that those committing such clear violations of fundamental Christian teaching actually profess strong personal belief.

Such hypocrisy, according to all strands within Christendom, deserves special condemnation.

Several religious groups have sheeted home blame for this week’s loss of life on Manus Island to Abbott’s regime.

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Let’s talk about abortion – again

Because we should never tire of talking about people’s individual right to make their own medical decisions, their own choices about their body, and their own life choices (as a collective, of course as individuals, we probably all get tired of this at some time or another).

So the new Pope, who was reported on Friday as being more “meh” about abortion because the Catholic Church had done that to death recently, and all the other good messages in the fresh and fragrant Gospels (his words not mine) were being lost in the “thou shalt not” stance of the church, came out today condemning abortion in order to placate the hardliners in the Church who thought that the Pope was being soft on abortion.  Because there is nothing more inspiring that someone saying, “yeah I know, this message is getting old and there are other things we should be talking about, but did you know that WE HATE ABORTION?”

Of course people only have abortions because of convenience according to the Pope:

Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic church on Friday, when he denounced abortions as a symptom of today’s “throw-away culture” and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.

which as we all know is complete bollocks.  I had an abortion to save my life, an abortion that would not have been performed in the hospital I had first arrived at, Saint Vincents, despite the fact that I was internally hemorrhaging and had I been left untreated I would have died.  I know other people who have had abortions because they believed that they were not capable of being parents at that time. I know people who have had abortions because being pregnant would cause a myriad of potentially fatal health issues.  I know people who have had abortions because they could not afford to have a child.  I know people who have had abortions because they were mortally afraid of being pregnant and having children.  All these issues and more do not make up a “throw-away culture”.  I don’t know anyone who has medical procedures for the fun of it.

The most telling part of the Pope’s comments on abortion is that the people who are pregnant aren’t even mentioned.  There is lots of talk about babies and children (despite the fact that it’s not until they are born that they are babies or children), and those babies or children having Jesus’s face (which is just a bit creepy), but nothing about the people whose lives may be in danger or whose ability to manage a pregnancy and the next 18 years of raising a child is being questioned by them.  It’s telling, it says “The Catholic Church cares more about babies than it does about the people whose body they incubate in, who will then spend the next 18 years or so raising, feeding, and attempting to afford them”.

He did repeat it on Friday, however. In his comments, Francis denounced today’s “throw-away culture” that justifies disposing of lives, and said doctors in particular had been forced into situations where they are called to “not respect life.”

“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he said.

He urged the gynaecologists to abide by their consciences and help bring lives into the world. “Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things,” he said. (The Guardian)

I certainly feel secure in my medical treatment knowing that there are doctors out there who do not have my best interests at heart.  I certainly feel welcome in the Catholic Church, an institution that does not trust women to be able to make up their own minds on issues.  I completely trust a religious institution that tells me that sex must have consequences for those who are fertile and have uteri.

The Catholic Church has consistently been anti-choice for as long as abortion has been a public issue, they are at least consistent with that.  They’ve consistently been on the side of a cluster of cells that cannot survive outside the individual it is growing in (while consuming their blood, energy and nutrition), instead of the individual who may or may not want that cluster of cells.  They have been consistently on the side of sex having consequences for those with uteri, instead of celebrating that sex is good for you, and consensual sex without consequences actually improves the wellbeing of everyone.  They have been on the side of that cluster of cells, instead on the side of families and individuals who are already struggling with poverty, disease, an excess of children, or immediate health consequences.

So eager is the Catholic Church to see more children born, that even in cases where the embryo is non-viable, they will still attempt to block access to abortion if at all possible.  We know that the Catholic Church will block access to abortion too when there is the choice between saving the mother’s life or leaving her pregnant and dead.

Every time I think that the Catholic Church might begin to reform, this shit comes up and I swear off it even further than I already have.  An organisation of men who think they know what is best for women – sounds similar to our own Government right now, but still – the Catholic Church is not a friend to those with uteri, and if you are a member of it, you need to remember that if you ever need to assert your right to your body.

Other useful reading by Libby Anne at Love Joy Feminism on this topic:

 

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The most persecuted group in the world

So today my sister sent me a link to a article from the West Australian detailing WA Liberal MP Luke Simpkins and his support of anti-halal food, or that all food should be labelled halal if it is, because otherwise we’re being stealth converted.  Who knew that halal food was a gateway drug to Islam.  From the West Australian:

“By having Australians unwittingly eating Halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and one that should not be imposed upon us without us knowing,” Mr Simpkins told Parliament.

The petition tabled by Mr Simpkins had been organised by the Barnabas Fund, an organisation that supports Christians living in Muslim countries.

I thought initially I’d write about how Mr Simpkins was an arsehat and perhaps award him the arsehat of the week award, but then I thought I’d look into the Barnabas Fund to see what their petition said.  Oddly enough I couldn’t find a petition regarding halal meat, instead I found a petition calling for the Government to recognise that Christians are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

According to Barnabas:

Christians are one of the largest and most persecuted groups in the world. Yet they often appear to be the most neglected group in Western governments’ foreign policy. There is little concrete engagement with the issue of anti-Christian persecution, even though governments may recognise that respect for minorities and human rights is a foundation stone for national and international peace and security.

Barnabas Fund’s Proclaim Freedom campaign will run to the end of 2012 and will seek to raise the profile of the persecuted Church around the world. It will have two specific aims:

  • to press governments to be active in promoting human rights in other countries for all minorities, but especially religious freedom for the roughly 200 million Christians living under the shadow of persecution, discrimination and disadvantage (source)

I thought that 200 million Christians was a big number of Christians that are facing persecution, and thought I’d have a quick look into where that number comes from, and investigate a bit more thoroughly.

Now the number of Christians that are actively being persecuted, may possibly be persecuted, or live in countries where there is discrimination against them (that might not amount to persecution) is a slippery number.  Different sources have numbers between 100 million and 300 million Christians facing persecution and/or discrimination.  This also appears to be an estimated number, hence a very large potential for a margin of error.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the number of Christians being persecuted is 100 million:

“There are over 65 countries where Christians are persecuted,” said the report released on Tuesday by Open Doors, which began in the 1950s smuggling Bibles into communist states and now works in more than 60 countries.

“An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide are persecuted,” the United States-based group said in the report. All but one of the 50 countries in the list – Colombia, which ranked 46th – were in Africa, Asia or the Middle East.

Christianity is the largest and most widely spread faith in the world, with 2.2 billion followers or 32 percent of the world population, according to a report by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

It faces restrictions and hostility in 111 countries around the world, ahead of the 90 countries limiting or harassing the second-largest faith, Islam, another Pew report said.

Open Doors of course being a Christian organisation that believes that spreading Christianity about is a great idea, and works to support persecuted Christians.

Wikipedia has the number of persecuted Christians set at 200 million, the same number as Barnabas, as does the Christian Reformed Church, and the National Catholic Reporter, which even explains how the number has been arrived at:

According to a recent Pew Forum analysis, 10 percent of Christians live in societies in which they’re a minority. Given that there are 2.18 billion Christians on the planet, this translates into more than 200 million people, many facing threats such as those in the Gaza Strip.

An article that is widely republished on the internet but which I cannot find the original source of, has an Anthony Browne, “Europe correspondent of the Times” put the number of persecuted Christians at 300 million.

If we accept that some hundreds of millions of people are at risk of persecution, actively being persecuted, or who are discriminated against due to being Christian, where are these Christians being persecuted?

Today [March 2012], the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Uscirf) released its14th annual report, which it is mandated to do under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The report identifies the world’s worst persecutors and makes foreign-policy recommendations, which are non-binding, to the administration and Congress. Its decisions are based on the agency’s visits to foreign countries, and a wide array of other sources, including the State Department’ s own excellent annual compilation of worldwide religious-freedom violations. The commission is distinctive because it is an independent federal agency, and it is to make its name-and-shame lists and policy recommendations unburdened by foreign-policy considerations other than the defense of religious freedom.

This year, Uscirf named 16 countries as the most egregious and systematic religious freedom violators in the world and recommended them for official “Country of Concern” (CPC) designation by the U.S. State Department. They are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, (north) Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Mandeans, Ahmadiyas, Rohingya Muslims, Yizidis, Alevis, Shiite and Ismaili Muslims in Saudi Arabia, African traditional believers in Sudan, Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, Sufi Muslims, Pakistani Hindus, independent Buddhists in Vietnam, Cao Dai, and many others groups and individuals are persecuted in these 16 countries. They suffer arrest, torture, imprisonment and even death for religious reasons, as well as other pressures. All these groups are covered in the Uscirf report.

Christians are far from the only religious group persecuted in these countries. But, Christians are the only group persecuted in each and every one of them. This pattern has been found by sources as diverse as the Vatican, Open Doors, Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and The Economist, all of which recently reported that an overwhelming majority of the religiously persecuted around the world are Christians. Globally, this persecution is experienced by all Christian faith traditions from Pentecostal and evangelical to Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox.

In many cases the persecution is at the hands of the government, as, for example, in China, Burma, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, but often, in places like Nigeria and Iraq, it is committed by religious extremists and vigilantes in the society who operate within a climate of impunity. In Pakistan and Egypt persecution is sponsored by all three — the authorities, extremist groups, and vigilantes. [Hudson Institute]

On one hand I’m concerned that there are people out there are who are solely concerned with the fact that Christians are being persecuted and that many other religious groups (as identified by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom) don’t rate a mention for those people.  Not to mention all the other people who are persecuted due to their political beliefs, race, nationality, or membership of a particular social group (often includes members of the LGBTIQ community, unionists, occupational groups, families, etc).

I’m a huge supporter of human rights for all.  Although I don’t agree with the premise of religion and the way many religious institutions operate, I am not against individuals choosing to believe or follow a certain religion, and I believe that choice should be free from persecution or discrimination.

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The moral high ground

Recently I was listening to a conversation between my mother and my sister.  My mother had given up on convincing me to join her at church that Sunday and was talking to my sister instead, hoping to convince her.  My sister patiently explained that she had rather big issues with the way the Catholic Church was operating, their classification of sins, their treatment of women, and their lack of action regarding the abuse by priests of children and others.  My mother immediately deflected criticism of an organisation she identifies with, and replied that the church was made up of people, and people are falible, and hey what about that organisation that you belong to, I bet they’re not perfect either.

It took me a while to unpack all that and why it was so wrong, and when it came to me, the response was perfect (and also a few days too late).  You see, most organisations that people belong to don’t make claims that they’re the moral arbiters for the entire world.

Continue reading The moral high ground

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The proof is actually in the Tony Abbott pudding

So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago.  Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.

Harsh you might say, but I note he hasn’t actually come out distancing himself from those far more recent comments.  Let’s look at today’s news across the spectrum of news agencies.

First the ABC:

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he can guarantee that his religious views will not impact on policies about women.

The Liberal leader has also backtracked from his previous views on homosexuals and saying the numbers of abortions each year is a “legacy of unutterable shame”.

“I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have,” Mr Abbott said.

“And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.”

“Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values,” he said.

“But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and off-hand comments 35 years ago.”

Mr Abbott, who as student politician at Sydney University opposed gay rights, also said he no longer has the strong views on homosexuality he used to.

In the interview Mr Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.

Ok, so from the ABC report, we know that the choices women have when dealing with unexpected pregnancies are tough, but there is no mention of any new Coalition policies towards the decriminalisation of abortion.  Abbott has also said that although his faith is important, it won’t dictate his politics, asking that we don’t judge him by his dickish comments 35 years ago.  He hasn’t, as I said earlier, repudiated his comments over the past 11 years, many of which suggest that his politics are deeply influenced by this faith.  He also said that his “strong views on homosexuality” have changed, but he still opposes marriage equality.  Which suggests that although he might now think that the queer community are ok, he isn’t all for equal rights.

Additional information from news.com includes:

Mr Abbott reflected on the now-famous speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacking him as a misogynist.

“It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t true,” he said.

He said he had said things in the past which he wouldn’t say today, and believed in things that he did not believe now.

“I have changed and I like to think I have grown,” he said.

His views on homosexuality have also changed and he now warmly accepts his sister Christine Forster as a lesbian, after she left her marriage of 19 years to be with her new partner Virginia.

 

 

So which things has Abbott changed his mind on?  The news articles, and I’m guessing also from the content the 60 Minutes interview, he has just said he’s changed his mind and hasn’t actually enunciated what he’s changed his minds on.  No, I’m not going to watch 60 Minutes and listen to Abbott’s voice to determine whether he’s been clear on what he’s changed his mind on precisely, if there was anything substantial it would be reported on in the media such as:

TONY ABBOTT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY

or

ABBOTT SUPPORTS ABORTION DECRIMINALISATION

As none of these things were reported, I think it’s yet another sound bite in the vain attempt to make Abbott seem like a decent individual.

And truly, it is so heart warming that he STILL LOVES HIS OWN SISTER even though she has come out as a lesbian.  When I read that, my heart swelled fit to bursting and the stars shone brighter than ever before.  What type of monster would Abbott be if he actually disowned his sister or stated he couldn’t stand his sister’s decision to live her life true to herself?  That wouldn’t be politically wise, so despite leaving her high and dry in that she cannot marry her new partner or anyone else of the same sex, saying that he “warmly accepts” his sister really is the barest minimum he can do.

And from The Age:

He also stated that earlier comments condemning abortion were poorly stated and admitted that his opposition to homosexuals had changed once he had got to know gays.

Supported by his lesbian sister, her lover, his wife Margie and his daughters, Mr Abbott said that when he claimed three years ago during a television interview that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuals, he had been trying to guard a family secret.

He had only just been told by his sister that she was a lesbian.

“Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private,” he said.

“But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.”

Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, said he had been “completely unfazed” when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.

Mr Abbott, who has always insisted marriage was between a man and a woman, even appeared to hold open the vague possibility of a future policy change by his party on same-sex marriage.

So Abbott is attempting to have it both ways, being “completely unfazed” when his sister outed herself to him, and also that “the cohesion of [his] family was threatened at that time” – though granted without context that could be in relation to another issue that had nothing to do with his sister.  The way it is reported however, makes it look like he didn’t react well to his sister coming out as a lesbian, but then he got over himself – well done Abbott – you’re a mostly decent human.

And it shouldn’t take you getting to know some “gays” before your attitude to them changes to acknowledging their equal citizenship and humanity.  Accepting that the broader queer community is make up of regular every day people is a no-brainer, except if you are a fundamentalist Christian who is happier to deny the humanity of your fellow citizens than to question what you have been taught.

Until I see some policy changes from Abbott which genuinely indicates that he’s shifted from his known ultraconservative views to what he is now claiming to be, I don’t accept his claims that he’s grown and changed into a decent individual, and that the Liberal Party is even remotely something I could vote for in the future.

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