The Potential Wedding Album

October 26, 2010

In Australia it is currently illegal for two men, two women, or two people who just don’t identify as a male-female couple to get married.

There is no logical or valid explanation for this discrimination.  The legislation was put in place in 2004 under the Howard Government and remained in place under the Rudd Government and the current Gillard Government.  None of these “leaders” can justify this decision aside from a woeful “because”.  We all know they did it so they didn’t lose the vote of the hateful and bigoted Christian lobby.

Let’s pretend for a moment, however, that instead of legislating hate, the government decided to legislate love.  What might this love look like?  The Potential Wedding Album is a beautiful glimpse into this dream of what could be, and dare I say it, what will soon be.

Take a wander through the pages of this magnificent piece of work.  Journey through the lives of the photos you see, and the happy people in them.  There is a lot of love and joy there.  If marriage was permitted to be between any two consenting adults, just think what a better society we would have.

The world will still go on when same-sex couples can marry.  The sky won’t fall in.  There won’t be a cataclysm or a rapture, but there will certainly be enrapture.  What there will be is an abundance of love, happiness, acceptance, inclusion, and so much more.

Religious fundamentalists, whether they be Jewish, Muslim, Christian or whatever, will increasingly be shown to be the intolerant, narrow-minded bigots and haters that they are.   Their beliefs, or more accurately, their make-beliefs, which are based on antiquated, irrelevant nonsense, have no place in the 21st century.  These ideologies and dogmas need to be expunged from humanity because of their destructive and hurtful capacity.

Sooner than later our society will accept and nurture the relationships between homosexual couples, bi-sexual couples and couples that simply don’t conform to the stereotypical male/female gender binary.

Love is, by far, the best option.


The “It Gets Better” Project

October 25, 2010

Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project, to try to make a positive difference to the lives of young people who are being bullied and struggling because of factors relating to their real or perceived sexual orientation.

I made a video for the project.  You can view it here.  My partner Gregory also told his story.

I invite you to also record a video for the project.  It’s really easy to do.  Just open your phone cam, plug in a web cam on your laptop or personal computer, or ask a friend to help you out.  Take a minute or longer and tell your story.  Tell a story of how you survived your school years, how you helped a friend get through, how you might have been a bully and how you regret it, how you said something once that you think might have had a negative impact on someone and wish you could have taken it back.  Please, just say something, something sincere and from the heart.  You might just make someone sit up and listen.  They might think twice about taking their life, or give them a ray of sun to lighten a dark place.

Joel Burns told a deeply moving story.   President Barak Obama has spoken from the White House.  These are just two of the more amazing contributions to the project.  There are hundreds more.  Every one adds a little extra piece to the puzzle of hope and love.

You can make a difference.  You owe it to someone who needs your help.


There’s no pleasing some people

October 18, 2010

[SOURCE]

Apparently I’m a sexist according to Rebecca Dominguez because I called a woman a bitch.  I didn’t call the woman a bitch because I have anything against women.  I chose the word ‘bitch’ because, and I refer you to definition 2a on answers.com, it was appropriate and accurate for the context:

n.

  1. A female canine animal, especially a dog.
  2. Offensive.
    1. A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing.
    2. A lewd woman.
    3. A man considered to be weak or contemptible.
  3. Slang. A complaint.
  4. Slang. Something very unpleasant or difficult.

I submitted the following comment, pending moderation at the time I write this, on Rebecca’s blog:

Rebecca,

I repeat, in case you didn’t hear my message the first time, my rant was not against women. I respect women as a group of people in society who often get the raw end of the deal. Honestly.

My attack was against Ilana Leeds. She happens to be a woman. If she was a man, she would have copped the same barrage from me.

I can’t win this. You are going to call me sexist no matter what.

Michael.

In the words of Brian Cohen, there’s no pleasing some people.


Challenging mainstream parochiality in the Jewish community

October 18, 2010

This letter appeared in the October 15, 2010 (Melbourne) edition of the Australian Jewish News:

AJDS deserves a slap on the wrist

KUDOS to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for passing a resolution unanimously condemning in the strongest possible terms the left-wing Australian Jewish Democratic Society’s (AJDS) support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign. It is about time the JCCV made it clear that the AJDS’ extreme views on Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict are not in sync with the mainstream Jewish community.

MICHAEL BURD
Toorak, Vic

The argument that Michael Burd puts forward here is extremely troubling.  He asserts that because a view held by an organisation is “not in sync with the mainstream Jewish community” it must therefore be worthy of condemnation.  What utter nonsense.  A minority view, as unacceptable or extreme as many may find it, does not by default equate to a wrong or unworthy view.

The “mainstream Jewish community” has trouble coping with or discussing a lot of concepts, amongst which the AJDS’ view on BDS is not in isolation.  One could start with issues such as indifference or opposition to Zionism, intermarriage, Orthodox vs Reform, secular humanism, child abuse, suicide, homosexuality, etcetera, etcetera.

It is imperative that the views and attitudes of the “mainstream Jewish community” be challenged and debated more frequently, in an intellectual and respectful manner.  Any community will contain a diversity of opinions on most issues, of which more than one may be valid.  Respect for this diversity is crucial for the health of the community.  Minorities being shouted down in a parochial and bullying fashion by organisations such as the JCCV is far from respectful or healthy.

The JCCV promotes itself as “the voice of Victorian Jewry“.  How remiss of me for taking an inclusive and plural interpretation of their motto.  It’s time the JCCV stopped pushing its single agenda view of how they want their community to be.  It will never work.


Ilana Leeds unleashes her inner bitch

October 17, 2010

Oblivious to the recent spate of teen suicides in USA caused by anti-gay bullying, Ilana Leeds lets herself off the leash again and barks out more anti-gay venom, ignorance, misinformation and bullying in her latest blog:

While I do not, and I m very clear on this, advocate causing harm to any person who is homosexual or otherwise different, I do not regard their behaviour as ‘normal’. That is my opinion. I base it on a number of facts including the idea that it is not normal sexual behaviour, even in the animal world.

I have sympathy for those born homosexual because I believe that it must be a difficult burden to deal with but by the same token, I think there are many therapies available and even if they cannot be cured they are able to come to terms with the fact that they need to address some issues in their lives.

Younger people with emotional problems can be taken advantage of in this very sensitive stage of their life by older more experienced homosexuals who may be just looking for a bit of fresh meat so to speak, and are apt to convince a younger impressionable person that they are gay because they (the older person) desires it to be so.

I will not be bullied or forced into accepting homosexuality as a normal sexual behaviour.

This religious whack-job is out of control.  She’s out of touch with reality, totally deluded and to top it all off appears to have a bad case of kennel cough.  Her views are poisonous and should not be tolerated.  Intelligent people will not be fooled by her ignorance and misinformation.  It’s only other ignorant people out there who will fall victim, unfortunately.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that despite the rabid rantings of Ilana Leeds, there is hope for anyone who feels they are struggling with their sexuality and aren’t sure what to do.  Taking your life or hurting yourself is not the answer.  Go to the It Gets Better Project and listen to the stories of the people out there who have been tormented by barking bullies like Ilana Leeds.


Anti-Defamation Commission Must Speak Out

October 14, 2010

[SOURCE]

As per the media release below, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has spoken out about the hate and bigotry perpetrated by Carl Paladino (who acted it in conjunction with Ultra Orthodox Jewish leaders in New York), against gay men and women.

I call on the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) in Victoria to speak out and support the Anti-Defamation League in their criticism of Carl Paladino and anyone else who sends a similar message of hate and intolerance, especially in our community.

Paladino’s attack on gay men and women in New York is an attack on all gay men and women, including those here in Victoria, Australia.

The ADC claims it has no authority to speak out on homophobic hate when it is targeted at Jews.  I genuinely believe this is an act of cowardice.  If the organisation was genuine in its care about Jews in Victoria, especially gay and lesbian Jews, it would take a stand.  If it remains silent on this issue it will confirm to all that it is does not take the issue of hate and discrimination seriously.

I quote from the ADC Mission Statement:

The ADC supports the following objectives stated in the preamble to the United Nations Charter:

  • “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, …”

The ADC aims to serve the Jewish and wider Australian community by reducing antisemitism, and combating racism and religious and ethnic prejudice.  We seek to secure justice and fair treatment for all people.

This is matter of human rights.  The ADC must speak out immediately.  As an arm of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the ADC must act in the best interests of all members of the Jewish community.

ADL Denounces Carl Paladino’s Comments Denigrating Homosexuality

New York, NY, October 12, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today criticized Carl Paladino for a series of anti-gay remarks, including his assertion that children should not be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.”

Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director, issued the following statement:

We are appalled by Carl Paladino’s comments denigrating homosexuality and suggesting that a homosexual lifestyle is not “valid.”  His statements are an affront to all New Yorkers, and are particularly disturbing in light of several recent hate crimes targeting the LGBT community in the New York Metropolitan Area.

We have repeatedly urged all candidates to refrain from appeals to prejudice and bigotry.  Such appeals are offensive, counterproductive and contrary to our nation’s democratic values.

Earlier this year, ADL urged our national leaders – and candidates – to commit themselves to restoring civility to our public discourse.  We renew that call today.  A truly effective candidate is one who engages in thoughtful and reasoned debate and rejects divisive and hateful rhetoric.  That is an essential ingredient of leadership.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, ADL neither supports nor opposes candidates for political office.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.


Letter to the JCCV regarding Mental Health Week 2010

October 1, 2010

From: Michael Barnett <mikeybear69@gmail.com>
Date: 1 October 2010 16:29
Subject: JCCV and Mental Health Week 2010
To: John Searle <president@jccv.org.au>

Dear John,

Mental Health Week in Victoria runs from October 10 to 16 this year(1).  Last year the JCCV published a media release(2) in time for Mental Health Week and included alarming figures on the extent mental health problems have on same-sex attracted youth.

There has been a spate of youth suicides in the USA that have come to recent public attention(3).  This news has been deeply disturbing.

I would be keen to know what actions the JCCV is taking to help prevent tragic outcomes such as these in the Melbourne Jewish community.  The JCCV formed a GLBT Reference Group in December 2009 (4) and has been briefed by a qualified academic on the facts surrounding intolerance of homosexuality.  This problem exists in all societies where any intolerance of homosexuality prevails.

I would be keen to discuss this matter at your earliest convenience.

Regards,
Michael.

1) http://www.mentalhealthvic.org.au/index.php?id=44
2) http://www.jccv.org.au/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=22&cntnt01returnid=59
3) https://sna.etapestry.com/prod/viewEmailAsPage.do?databaseId=MatthewShepardFoundation&shareMedium=label.facebook&etapCacheBuster=1285896802597&jobRef=1072.0.17752687
4) http://www.jccv.org.au/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=5&cntnt01returnid=59


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