Bigotry belongs in the bin, not equality

September 24, 2017

Today I handed out “Yes” posters for the same-sex marriage survey along the length of the shopping strip in High Street, Ashburton.  For the most part it was a rewarding experience, with a handful of shopkeepers very keen to proudly show their support, and a lot more shopkeepers who were similarly keen, pending their manager’s approval.

I am happy to endorse the shops that support equality, like this one:

and this one:

One shop in particular, Baker’s Delight, was magnificent.  The staff member whom I spoke to said he’d need to speak to his manager before he could put it up.  I was happy enough that he wanted to do the right thing and seek permission.  Then a few minutes later I walked back past shop and he was sticking the poster to the shop front.  My heart swelled because they were proud to support equality.

20170924 Bakers Delight Ashburton say yes

Bakers Delight Ashburton say Yes to equality

However something happened between me leaving the shop and coming back a little later that disturbed me greatly.  I saw a woman shoving a scrunched marriage equality Vote Yes poster into the rubbish bin out the front of the shop.  The bin was full so her adding this large poster to the mouth of the bin didn’t help very much with its disposal.

20170924 Discarded Yes poster in Ashburton

A woman wearing a “Vote No” badge stuffed a “Yes” poster in this rubbish bin in High St, Ashburton

I was alarmed to see someone throwing this poster in the bin because I knew it had been taken down from one of the many locations along the length of the street that had been covered with these posters.

I asked the woman why she was putting that in the bin and she said “Because it’s rubbish”.  She then turned to walk into the bakery, but not before I could see the prominent pink and blue circular badge on her top that said something along the lines of “I’m voting No”.

20170924 Anti-equality woman in shop

The woman who ripped down a Yes poster in the street, wearing a Vote No badge, in the Bakers Delight shop that subsequently put up a Yes poster

I was hoping to capture some footage of her and challenge her on camera about her actions but the best I could do get was her walking back to her car (Burgundy KIA Sportage, rego VIC ANS-072) and driving away.

So when the people opposed to marriage equality claim they have no voice and are the silent majority, being denied their “free speech”, just take a look at this woman, ripping down Yes posters, calling them rubbish (and by inference calling equality rubbish) and putting them in the bin.

She could have handed the shop a poster asking to promote her anti-equality cause, just like I did for my pro-equality cause, or put similar posters up and down the strip of shops, but instead she chose to remove a poster that someone else put up, in a cowardly attempt to silence people wanting equality under the law.

What belongs in the bin are the bigoted attitudes of this woman who is opposed to all people having the same rights under the law, and not a poster calling for equality.

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Why I don’t care that Tony Abbott was attacked

September 22, 2017

Last night someone attacked Tony Abbott because they despised the man.

Tony Abbott is despicable.  He is responsible for inflicting a great deal of misery on a large number of vulnerable people.

That makes Tony Abbott a vile human.

I don’t wish harm on anyone, but when people like Tony Abbott cause other people to suffer needlessly, my care factor for them drops to zero.

I don’t say Tony Abbott deserved to be attacked, but I am indifferent to the fact that he was.

In fact I am completely numb to it.

My life is a complete misery because of the attack on my life, on my humanity, on my dignity, and on my relationship that Tony Abbott wanted to happen.

My husband is a complete wreck at the moment.  He is at the lowest point I have ever seen him at, struggling with life every single day, and I am trying to hold the pieces together.  This is a direct result of Tony Abbott’s assault on LGBTIQ people.

Tony Abbott got a fat lip.  A fat fucking lip.

If someone smashed Tony Abbott across the head with a baseball bat I don’t think I’d have the emotional energy left to give half a shit.

Thousands of people are suffering right now, in complete despair and misery, because of Tony Abbott, and that piece of Liberal Party scum has the audacity to blame marriage equality supporters for his fat lip.

Just fuck off and leave us alone Tony Abbott.

 


David Marr, do you fact check?

September 21, 2017

In the September 19 Guardian article Where’s the biff? Free speech has won every round in the marriage equality debate David Marr wrote:

“One Christian at IBM and another at Macquarie University have both been targeted by a zealous yes warrior who reckons they should be dismissed because their advocacy for traditional marriage is at odds with the ethos of their employers. So have they lost their jobs? No and nor should they.”

Back in March this year I posted this tweet about Mark Allaby:

I also posted this tweet about Stephen Chavura:

I posted several more similarly worded tweets about both.  However in none of my tweets did I once call for, imply, or want the sacking of either from their respective places of employment.

On September 12 on ABC’s The Drum David Marr said Mark Allaby was “targeted by some trollish yes voters” (around 13:00) in response to Iain Benson’s claim “Allaby was asked to resign”:

 

ABC The Drum David Marr Trolls (Sep 12 2017)

In the above-mentioned Guardian article David Marr alleges [Mark Allaby and Stephen Chavura] “have both been targeted by a zealous yes warrior who reckons they should be dismissed”.

Who is this “zealous yes warrior who reckons they should be dismissed” David Marr?

If you are referring to my activism, please show me where I have called for the dismissal of either Mark Allaby from IBM or Stephen Chavura from Macquarie University.

If not mine, then whose activism are you are referring to?

I also refer David Marr to this apology from ABC’s The Drum where they clarified that my activism was in fact not related to marriage equality.


Lyle Shelton

September 16, 2017


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


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