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.


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”:

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.

What did Neil Mitchell mean when he said “gay mafia” on-air on 3AW?

June 5, 2017

On the morning of May 26 I was invited to participate in an interview with Neil Mitchell regarding Margaret Court’s comments on marriage equality and related issues.

Just prior to the hourly news, while I was on hold waiting to be put to air, Neil made an on-air reference to “the gay mafia”.  You can hear him say this at the 58-minute mark here or listen to the clip here.

I would like to understand what Neil meant when he made this reference, as it is a term used by many people to vilify gay and lesbian people.

I have emailed Neil’s show asking the above.

From: 3AW 693 <>
Date: 5 June 2017 at 11:35
Subject: 3AW Contact Form
To: Michael Barnett

Hello Michael,

Thank you for contacting 3AW. Your message has been delivered.

Please see a copy of your email below.

Thank you

3AW 693

Your Email;

Dear 3AW / Mornings team,

Last week I was invited to participate in an interview with Neil Mitchell regarding Margaret Court’s comments on marriage equality and related issues.

Just prior to the hourly news, while I was on hold waiting to be put to air, I heard Neil make an on-air reference to “the gay mafia”.  I am aware of other people who also heard this.

I would like to understand what Neil meant when he made this reference, as it is a term used by many people to vilify gay and lesbian people.

Thank you very much.

Have you been to see Toowoomba doctor David van Gend about your sexuality or gender identity?

April 14, 2017

David van Gend


If you have been or are currently a patient of Toowoomba doctor David van Gend and you have been to see him about issues relating to your sexuality or gender identity, I would like you to contact me in the strictest of confidence.

Is Marriage Alliance’s CEO Damian Wyld being deceptive?

April 14, 2017

In an open letter published on March 31 2017, Marriage Alliance’s CEO Damian Wyld claims, in the absence of any evidence:

We are alarmed by the news that Mark Allaby has been pressured to stand down from the board of another faith-based institution because of the perception that such board positions are not compatible with employment with companies which have publicly expressed support for changing the definition of marriage.

Contrary to what is expressed by some activists, we do not consider that your company’s expressed commitment to diversity is undermined by allowing all employees, including senior executives, the ability to hold, express and act on their beliefs in relation to marriage.

Two weeks earlier I posted this tweet:

In this tweet (and others) I raised concern about Mark Allaby working for IBM, a pro-LGBTIQ Pride in Diversity member organisation, whilst being a Director on the board of a charity holding a strong anti-LGBTIQ stance.

It’s unclear on what sound basis Damian Wyld brought the issue of marriage into this conversation.  My tweets simply do not mention or allude to marriage.

What my tweets do is raise questions around how a senior employee of a leading pro-LGBTIQ corporation can, with any level of personal integrity, support their employer’s pro-LGBTIQ Diversity Statement, whilst also being on the board of a charitable organisation whose framework is based on a version of Christianity that is fundamentally opposed to LGBTIQ inclusion and equality.

If there is any doubt of the latter, the Lachlan Macquarie Institute is run by the Australian Christian Lobby, an organisation that comprehensively dedicates significant resources to denying dignity and full societal inclusion to same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender diverse Australians.

On the issue of marriage, to date IBM have never issued a public statement declaring support for marriage equality.  IBM’s logo did appear on the Australian Marriage Equality list of declared corporate supporters sometime between February 19 and March 20 this year.  However AME have told me that on the grounds of privacy they will not provide evidence of any correspondence authorising their use of IBM’s logo.  In the absence of any public statement from IBM or AME, it can only be concluded that IBM have privately declared support for marriage equality.

I can confidently state that during my employment at IBM, from October 2005 to February 2015, IBM had explicitly and variously declined to go as far as declaring support for marriage equality.  This was despite IBM being a solid supporter of LGBTIQ visibility and inclusion in the workplace, and being a founding member of Pride in Diversity.  Since February 2015 IBM has not issued a public statement in support of marriage equality.

On March 16 The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine reported IBM’s Managing Director Kerry Purcell co-signed a letter, in his personal capacity, declaring support for marriage equality.  However it’s quite a leap to claim that IBM’s corporate entity declared support for marriage equality simply because their Managing Director declared personal support for it.

So where is Damian Wyld’s evidence to substantiate his claim that IBM “have publicly expressed support for changing the definition of marriage”?

And where is Damian Wyld’s evidence to substantiate his claim that “Mark Allaby has been pressured to stand down from the board of another faith-based institution”.

Further, where is Damian Wyld’s evidence of who pressured Mark Allaby to stand down from the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute?

I have certainly never contacted Mark Allaby, and IBM has refused to comment on the topic.

In conclusion, Damian Wyld has distorted my tweets, falsely claimed IBM have made a public statement of support for marriage equality, and claimed, without evidence, that pressure was put on Mark Allaby to stand down from the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, without stating by whom.

It seems that Marriage Alliance CEO Damien Wyld is being deceitful in his open letter.  He has provided no evidence of his claims and it would appear he has distorted and fabricated the truth.

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