Lyle Shelton

September 16, 2017

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A response to Rabbi Daniel Rabin on marriage equality

September 6, 2017

Rabbi Daniel Rabin posted the following on Facebook:

Was a great experience to chat with some of the Year 12 students at Bialik College today and discuss homosexuality in Judaism and issues surrounding same-sex marriage and the upcoming postal vote.

Some of the things we talked about was the great sensitivity and emotion surrounding this topic and the need to be incredibly mindful that there are differences of opinion in this regard.

People on both sides need to respect the differing views.

It is totally unacceptable to denigrate, insult or hurt others because they don’t share your opinion.

I have seen signs of “Stop the Fags” posted around and I think that is disgraceful. I have written previously, in particular about the Jewish community, that we need to be accepting and inclusive of all Jews regardless of their sexual orientation. Signs like these can cause vulnerable people to take their lives.

At the same time, if someone does not support the marriage act changing, don’t immediately call them homophobic or assume they are being hateful or bigoted.

I encourage civilized conversation on both sides and hope we can live our lives with mutual respect, courtesy and care for one another.

Rabbi Rabin is president of The Rabbinic Council of Victoria.  On September 4 the RCV issued this statement (incorrectly dated September 9):

Sep 4 2017 - RCV statement supporting No vote on marriage equality postal survey

Daniel Rabin is also the rabbi at the North Eastern Jewish Centre (NEJC) in Doncaster.  I grew up in Doncaster and attended the synagogue there in the 1980s and 90s.  I went to Sunday school there and had my bar mitzvah there.  The religious community there was a big part of my life and that of my family for many years.

I also attended Bialik College in the early 1980s.

When I was at the NEJC and at Bialik I was struggling with my sexuality.  I had been struggling with it since around 1979, and the struggle continued for 16 years until 1996.  During this time I had no support, no positive role models and no one to tell me that I wasn’t broken, wasn’t an aberration, wasn’t an abomination and wasn’t abnormal.  I was also incessantly bullied on my perceived sexuality for most of my school years.

After I came to terms with my sexuality I stopped attending NEJC, withdrew my financial support and stopped active religious observance because I was repulsed that part of the Orthodox religious service was to read a passage from the Torah that said men who slept with men were an abomination and that the penalty for doing this was their life, or words much to that effect.

Words can hurt, even if they are token.

In 2017, the rabbi of my former synagogue has told students at my former school that people, people like him, who oppose equal treatment of all citizens under the law of Australia should not be considered homophobic, or assumed to be hateful or bigoted.

That’s fair enough.  He is perfectly entitled to express those views.  However simultaneously he should not be surprised when people, people like me, look at the words he uses and wonder how he could not possibly be seen to be homophobic, or assumed to be hateful or bigoted.

What Rabbi Rabin is doing is in effect asking for the law to treat people in a heterosexual relationship in a manner that advantages them over people who are in other types of legal, consensual relationships.  His arguments and his logic are spurious, drawing from speculation, fear-mongering and deliberate misinformation.

Rabbi Rabin is welcome to practice his faith and to express his religious obligations within the sphere of Halacha and the remit of his responsibilities as both a congregational rabbi and the president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria.  However he is not welcome to interfere in the lives of people who wish to enter into civil marriages, especially those people who are not doing so in an Orthodox Jewish context.

To my mind, it appears as bigotry when I see religious leaders using their faith to treat as lesser or deny certain people the same rights they enjoy under civil law.

To my mind, it does appear hateful, not to mention deceitful and disingenuous, when religious leaders imply or infer that children raised by both biological parents are more deserving of their parents than children of adoptive, same-sex, gender-diverse and other parenting configurations.

To my mind, it does appear homophobic when religious leaders use their authority to spread misinformation, lies and deceitful propaganda about homosexual people, the relationships we have, the indignities we endure, and the intolerance and discrimination we face.

Rabbi Rabin asks for respect.  He forgets that respect is earned, not demanded.  At present, while Rabbi Rabin asks for people, people like him, to deny me the right to marry the man I love, the man I want to have look after me in sickness and in health, the man who I would give my life for, I feel little respect for his views.

Rabbi Daniel Rabin could learn a few things from those who want to remove discrimination under the law, not enforce it.  He may be a teacher of Torah, but he is yet to become a teacher of humanity.

 
Postscript – September 7 2017

Rabbi Daniel Rabin has issued a personal apology on Facebook for the RCV statement:

I accept this apology and call for the RCV to withdraw their statement and issue a similar apology for the hurt and insensitivity of their actions.


Does Michael Kellahan still believe the Sun revolves around the Earth?

August 13, 2017

The corollary to the argument Michael Kellahan presents (Why marriage should be between a man and a woman; SMH Aug 10 2017) is that it is ok to believe the Sun revolves around the Earth, because at one stage that is what people thought.

Just because a view was once historically popular does not mean it will always be fit-for-purpose.

On marriage equality, Penny Wong has reflected on her 2010 views and has modified them to suit the contemporary political and social climate.

It would bode people like Michael Kellahan well to adopt a similar line of thinking, because while it is ok to believe the Sun revolves around the Earth, doing so is going to make you look out of touch with the world around you.


An open letter from Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center to NC Pride

July 10, 2017

The following letter is what I have written as an alternative to what actually played out.  Since drafting this proposed letter I have been advised that as of Friday July 7 the date of the pride parade has been rescheduled. I hope the Jewish community can work more collaboratively and cooperatively with the GLBT community in future, to avoid the tensions and disharmony as demonstrated. Respect is always earned, not demanded.


Dear North Carolina Pride,

We write to you in the spirit of fostering a stronger and more harmonious relationship between the GLBT and Jewish communities.

It has come to our attention that this year NC Pride falls on Saturday September 30, the same day as Yom Kippur.  To us, Yom Kippur is a solemn day of reflection and prayer.  The timing of these two significant occasions means that some Jews will be faced with the conflict of having to choose between attending a Yom Kippur service or participating in your pride parade.

Our communities have a shared experience of oppression and marginalisation, so we understand how important it is for you to stand tall and proud, fly your flags high and declare to the world your wish for dignity and equality.

Whilst we are saddened that some of our community will be unable to attend your parade due to their religious observance, we have decided as whole community to observe NC Pride with you on Yom Kippur.

Let me explain.

Yom Kippur is about atonement and repentance, where Jews ask for forgiveness for our sins and transgressions.  This year we are going to ask our Jewish community to look at how we treat GLBT people.  We know we have not made our best efforts to provide the safest spaces, the most inclusive environments and the most dignified opportunities.  We know we can improve and be better people.  This is the very introspection that Yom Kippur demands of us.

We are going to ask the Jewish community to reflect on how we sometimes put pressure on those in the closet, who feel they must lie to their families, peers and themselves about their sexuality or gender identity in order to meet our expectations of them.

Similarly we are going to ask the Jewish community how we can be better people and stand up for the rights and dignity of GLBT people when wider society and the government wishes to deny them equal rights and opportunity under the law.

We know your pain and your suffering, and on Yom Kippur, our day of sacrifice, the least we can do is feel some of it with you and walk together in your shoes.

We are thankful of your efforts over each of the past 17 years, and wish you a long and strong future.  We also commit to sharing this experience every time NC Pride coincides with Yom Kippur, and will do our best to ensure every Jew who wishes to participate in your pride parade will be able to do so, either in person, or if they are attending a Yom Kippur service, then in their hearts.

Sincerely,

Adam Organ
Executive Director
Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center


Facebook’s hypocrisy when it comes to the word “dyke”.

July 6, 2017

There’s a story on ABC News about Facebook not coping with the word “dyke”:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-06/facebook-banning-algorithims-block-lesbians-from-using-dyke/8676284

There’s a page on Facebook called “Dykes on Bikes Melbourne“.

If you point out to Facebook that this page has the word Dyke in it, you’ll be in breach of the Facebook Community Standards:

Dykes on Bikes Melbourne

which will result in a block on posting for a 30-day period:

30 day ban

Seems more than a little hypocritical to allow the word “dyke” in a page on Facebook but not let people talk about it.


Lyle Shelton calls the police

June 28, 2017

SHELTON: Damn that Michael Barnett.  He’s posted our home address on Twitter.  Again.  I’m calling the police.

(calls police)

BOMB SQUAD: Hello, Bomb Squad.  How can we help?

SHELTON: Oh shit.  Wrong speed-dial.

BOMB SQUAD: Is that you Shelton?  We have an AVO on you.  Don’t call us again!

(calls police)

EMERGENCY 000: Police, Ambulance, Fire.  How may we direct your call?

SHELTON: I need the police.

EMERGENCY 000: What city or town are you calling from?

SHELTON: Capital Hill.  It’s where I live.  You should know, it’s the backdrop on all my social media feeds!

EMERGENCY 000: Connecting… Police…

POLICE: What is the nature of the emergency?

SHELTON: They’re destroying my marriage.  Those homosexuals are tearing down the social fabric of my marriage and making my sexuality a laughing-stock.

POLICE: Is this an emergency?  You’re rambling incoherently about your marriage.

SHELTON: Yes, yes, it’s a damn emergency.  They’ve put my family at risk of Muslim glitter-bombers.

POLICE: What exactly is the emergency?

SHELTON: My home address is on the Internet.  It’s on Twitter.  It’s been blogged.  I’m trending, and not in a good way.

POLICE: Someone has posted your private home address on the Internet?

SHELTON: Yes, that’s correct.  My home address is on the Internet.

POLICE: And how exactly did they get your home address?  Are you listed on the Electoral Roll?  In the phone book?  On a public toilet wall?  Did someone steal Cory Bernardi’s Little Black Book?

SHELTON: No, they accessed the ASIC register and put that online.  It’s outrageous!!!!

POLICE: Your home address was listed on the ASIC register?

SHELTON: Yes, that’s correct.  I made a fuss about my home address being in an extract they posted to their blog and then they posted the section with my address on Twitter.

POLICE: You do know that the ASIC register is open to the public?

SHELTON: Yes, of course, it’s a public register.  It says so on their website.

POLICE: And you’re calling in an emergency because you’re concerned people will find out where you live because your home address is listed on a public register?

SHELTON: Yes, I am.

POLICE: Sir, you have the wrong number.  Connecting you to Ambulance.


Ron Kaplan Is Wrong. The Gay Games Aren’t Exclusionary.

June 27, 2017

In Ron Kaplan’s article “Rogel Alpher Is Wrong. The Maccabiah Games Aren’t Racist” a photo is captioned:

The Maccabiah: Just as ‘exclusionary’ as the Paralympics, Gay Games and the Women’s Islamic Games’

Ron Kaplan's article asserts the Gay Games are exclusionary

It is wholly incorrect to claim the Gay Games are exclusionary.

I participated in the 2002 Sydney Gay Games and it was my understanding at the time that anyone could participate, irrespective of their sexual orientation.  At no stage in the event registration was I asked what my sexual orientation was, and no one cared whether I was gay, straight or somewhere in-between.

In fact it was the sense of inclusion that made the Gay Games so important to me.  I wanted to be involved in an event that did not discriminate against anyone, or tell anyone they couldn’t participate because of who they were.

The Gay Games are a welcoming space, not an exclusionary space.


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