Sunday, September 10, 2017

What’s changed in Britain since same-sex marriage?

Lessons for Australia

Four years ago, amid much uncertainty, 400 British members of parliament voted to redefine marriage in the United Kingdom.

Then prime minister David Cameron announced that, despite having made no mention of the issue in his party’s pre-election manifesto, it would be MP’s who decided the fate of marriage.

Now, it’s Australia’s turn to choose. There’s one key difference. Unlike in Britain, it will be the people who decide.

Everyone agrees, whether they admit it or not. This is a decision of enormous significance. Therefore, it seems sensible to analyse the consequences of the potential change, within nations in which redefinition has previously been carried out.

In the United Kingdom, it has become abundantly clear that redefinition has affected many people, across many spheres. At first glance, these spheres appeared distinct from marriage redefinition. However, subsequent changes, have proved that they are entirely intertwined.

Gender: Current Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, has revealed proposals to abolish the need for any medical consultation before gender reassignment. Simply filling out an official form will be sufficient. A ‘Ministry of Equalities’ press release, explicitly announced, that the proposals were designed to: ‘build on the progress’ of same-sex marriage. Guardian journalist Roz Kaveney boasted that changing your gender is now: ‘Almost as simple as changing your name by statutory declaration’.

Manifestations of the ‘British gender revolution’ are not difficult to find. Transport for London, have prohibited the use of the ‘heteronormative’ words, such as ladies and gentlemen. Meanwhile, universities across the nation are threatening to ‘mark down’ students, who continue to use the words ‘he’ and ‘she’. Instead, ‘gender neutral pronouns’ such as ‘ze’, must be uniformly applied.

Such gender-theory radicalism has delighted Stonewall, the UK’s largest LGBT lobby. Their Orwellian tagline: ‘Acceptance without exception’, can be seen plastered on posters and adverts. Politicians, attempt to ‘out-radical’ one another, in the race to be an original champion, in the next emancipatory front of ‘Trans-rights’.

Freedom of religion: Much was made in the UK, about supposed exemptions, designed to ensure that believers would always be allowed to stay true to their convictions. Four years later, the very same people who made ‘heartfelt promises’, now work tirelessly to undermine them.

Equalities minister Justine Greening, has insisted that churches must be made to: ‘Keep up with modern attitudes’. Likewise, the Speaker of the House of Commons, a position supposedly defined by its political neutrality, had this to say: I feel we’ll only have proper equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so, without having to fight the church for the equality that should be your right’.

It became clear, during this year’s general election, just how militant the LGBT lobby have become, following marriage redefinition. The primary target was Tim Farron, leader of England’s third largest political party, the Liberal Democrats. High-profile journalists had heard that Farron was a practising Christian. In every single interview thereafter, they demanded to know. Did he personally believe homosexual sex to be a sin? He practically begged the commentariat, to allow him to keep his personal faith and legislative convictions separate. For decades, he pointed out, he had out vocally and legislatively supported the LGBT Lobby. Likewise, he had long backed same-sex marriage, voting for it enthusiastically. This simply was no longer enough.

Shortly after the election campaign, Farron resigned. He stated that it was now impossible, for a believing Christian to hold a prominent position in British politics.

In a heartbreaking development and in spite of Britain’s ‘foster crisis’, aspiring foster parents who identify as religious, face interrogation. Those who are deemed unlikely to ‘celebrate’ homosexuality, have had their dreams of parenthood scuppered. This month, Britain’s High Court, ruled that a Pentecostal couple were ineligible parents. While the court recognised their successful and loving record of adoption, they decreed that above all else: ‘The equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence’. How has Great Britain become so twisted? Practicing Jews, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, who want to stay true to their religious teachings, can no longer adopt children.

Freedom of speech: In the lead-up to the Parliamentary vote, we witnessed almost incomprehensible bullying. David Burrows MP, a mild-mannered supporter of the ‘Coalition for Marriage’, had excrement thrown at his house. His children received death threats and their school address was published online. Similarly, ‘Conservative’ broadcaster Iain Dale promised to, ‘publicly out’ gay MP’s, who did not vote for redefinition.

Many hardworking Brits have lost their jobs. Consider Adrian Smith, sacked by a Manchester Housing Trust, for suggesting that the state: ‘shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience’. Or Richard Page, fired for gross misconduct after articulating, that children might enjoy better outcomes, were they to be adopted by heterosexual couples.

Simultaneously, contrary to ‘steadfast’ government assurances, small businesses have been consistently targeted. Courts in Northern Ireland ruled that the Asher’s Family bakery had acted unlawfully. What crime committed by this tiny business? Politely declining to decorate a cake with a political message in support of same-sex marriage. The courts maintained that business owners must be compelled to promote the LGBT cause, irrespective of personal convictions.

Even the National Trust, a British institution with over 4.2 million members, has decided to join the bullying LGBT crusade. A message went out. Each of the Trust’s 62,000 volunteers, would be required to wear a compulsory same-sex rainbow badge. Those who said they’d rather not were told they would be ‘moved out of sight’until they were prepared to publicly demonstrate inclusive tolerance.

In retrospect, the silent majority in Britain remained silent for too long. Reflecting on redefinition, Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman of the Bow Group think tank pondered that:‘Same-sex marriage was promoted in the UK, as an issue of supposed tolerance and equality. What we have seen, is the most unequal and intolerant outcomes of any political issue in recent history’.

Children: Across the UK, ‘sex education’ has been transformed and disfigured. TV programmes, aimed at children as young as three, promote ‘gender fluidity’, as an enabler of thoughtfulness and individuality.

At the same time, Ministers have denied worried parents the right to withdraw their children from primary school classes. Meanwhile, ‘outside educators’ teach children about sex positions, ‘satisfying’ pornography consumption and how to masturbate. Concerns regarding STI’s and Promiscuity, are derided as ‘old-fashioned’.

Independent religious schools are under intense scrutiny. Dame Louise Casey, a senior government advisor, recently insisted that it is now: ‘Not Ok for Catholic schools to be homophobic and anti-gay marriage’.

Ofsted, the body responsible for school-assessment, has been wildly politicised. In 2013, Prior to the redefinition of marriage, Ofsted visited Vishnitz Jewish Girls School. They passed the school with flying colours. In fact, they went out of their way to highlight the committed and attentive approach to student welfare and development.

Four years later, Ofsted returned. This time, they failed the school on one issue alone. While again, noting that students were ‘confident in thinking for themselves‘, their report, pointed to the inadequate promotion of homosexuality and gender reassignment. As such, it was failing to ensure: ‘a full understanding of fundamental British values’. It is one of an initial seven faith schools that face closure.

I mentioned that I was writing this article to a good friend in the Conservative Party, back at home. He expressed his genuine concern. Had I not considered the consequences? Did I not realise that what I said in Australia could be found when I returned to the UK? ‘LGBT progress is an unstoppable tide’. He assured me, that it was ok for me to ‘privately’ believe that marriage was between one man and one woman. He even privately agreed, that the stuff being taught in primary schools was too much.

But to say it out loud? To actually have it in print? It would blight my career and my personal relationships.

Good God. How much more important the institution of marriage and freedom of thought, religion and speech. How much more important the future of our children, than any naïve career ambitions I might harbour.

I urge every Aussie to examine the evidence, analysis the results and be clear about what you’re voting for. If it was solely marriage, it would be worth preserving. It’s infinitely more.


Support for same-sex marriage falling and 'no' vote rising, advocate polling shows

Support for same-sex marriage has crashed ahead of the Turnbull government's postal survey, and only two-thirds of voters are inclined to take part, according to the latest polling from same-sex marriage advocates.

At the start of a two-month campaign, the confidential research provided to Fairfax Media shows support for a "no" vote has risen, as has the number of people who say they don't know how they will vote.
Polls given to Fairfax Media show support for same-sex marriage has crashed ahead of the government's postal survey.

And alarmingly for "yes" campaigners, turnout could be very low, with just 65 per cent of voters rating themselves as very likely to participate – falling to 58 per cent among those aged 18 to 34.

It prompted a concerned campaign veteran to declare: "There is every chance we can slip behind and lose this."

The research was conducted for the Equality Campaign by Newgate Research pollster Jim Reed between August 28 and September 6, with a sample size of 800 and a 3.5 per cent margin of error.

It showed that 58.4 per cent of those surveyed said they would back a "yes" vote, down six percentage points from two weeks earlier, while support for a "no" vote rose two percentage points to 31.4 per cent. The "unsure" vote rose three percentage points to 10.2 per cent.

The tracking polling, which was conducted before the High Court case verdict was handed down, was released to serve as a wake up call to "yes" campaigners who believe victory is assured. Senior figures from the campaign would not speak on the record about the results.

Campaigners point to the 1999 republic campaign, the Brexit vote and the election of US president Donald Trump as evidence "nothing can be taken for granted".

The "no" campaign has successfully portrayed itself as the underdog in the postal survey, based on years of research showing a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.

Opponents of change will be buoyed by the significant uptick in voters declaring themselves undecided, a sign that attempts to broaden the debate into areas such as the Safe Schools program may be working.

The intensity of the debate has already forced LGBTI organisations to dig deeper. Switchboard Victoria manager Jo Ball said her support service had taken 30 per cent more calls since the survey was first announced, and recruited 16 additional volunteer counsellors, with more coming.

An angry clash between "yes" and "no" supporters outside a Brisbane church on Thursday night, which saw one arrest and one minor injury, prompted government leaders to again call for respectful debate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there would always be "isolated cases" of unpleasantness and warned: "You cannot expect your side of the argument to be respected unless you respect the other side of the argument and the people who put it."

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is responsible for the postal survey, said it was disappointing that people "take things to extremes" in any political debate.

The major parties will work over the weekend on a bill to ensure normal election safeguards apply to the marriage campaign, including the requirement for material to bear an authorisation.

Labor has pitched for the rules to go further and ban "vile" content, but Senator Cormann appeared to rule that out on Friday, saying: "You don't want to put inappropriate limits on the freedom of political expression."

He was largely backed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, whose representative Ed Santow said people had to take personal responsibility for their conduct in the campaign.

"The law has an important role to play here, but it can only go so far," he told the ABC. He said the government should consider rules limiting speech with "very serious harmful effects", such as incitements to violence.


Intolerance of opposition is no way to support same-sex marriage

The High Court of Australia’s ­decision on Thursday afternoon to throw out legal challenges to the postal survey on same-sex marriage drew palpable sighs of relief from the Turnbull government.

Immediately after the decision, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is also acting minister of state responsible for the poll, asked both sides to act with courtesy and respect. Well said.

While rules for the poll will be drawn up this weekend, both Yes and No camps could start by being less shouty, less winner-takes-all, less take-no-prisoners.

Gay marriage crusaders in particular, might want to rethink their conduct over the next two months as 16 million Australians are asked to fill out and return their ballots by November 7.

A good way to check their tactics so far is to ­imagine if the tables were turned. Warning: the following scenarios jar the mind, and for good reason.

Imagine that in March this year Coopers Brewery cancelled the ­release of a “Keeping it Light” video featuring a respectful conversation about marriage between two federal MPs when defenders of traditional marriage kicked off a #BoycottCoopers campaign. The Guardian reported the backlash from traditional marriage defenders was “swift and brutal”, with hundreds of social media posts ­accusing the brewery of promoting same-sex marriage, and a dozen hotels deciding not to sell Coopers beer. Coopers promptly capitulated, issuing a grovelling apology to supporters of traditional marriage.

In the same month, suppose that traditional marriage activists targeted the managing partner of IBM because he believes in same-sex marriage, defending their ­intimidation tactics by claiming that the managing director’s private views are entirely incompatible with IBM’s stated support for traditional marriage. Imagine, too, that defenders of traditional marriage also harassed a senior executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers and an academic at Macquarie University because of their links to same-sex marriage lobby groups.

Now try running the ruler over some of Australia’s biggest businesses who joined the crusade to defend traditional marriage by asking their employees and all Australians to wear a specially ­designed “acceptance ring” to signal acceptance of the status quo around marriage. An employee of one of the big four banks told The Daily Telegraph that being “constantly bombarded” with traditional marriage propaganda put him in a position of having to jus­tify his support for same-sex marriage. The employee lamented the “sad state of affairs in a country where freedom of thought was once a prized right”. The boss of a traditional marriage lobby group said “it is wonderful to have so many businesses” defending traditional marriage.

Try to then picture traditional marriage activists calling for a sports arena named many years ago in honour of a former Olympic champion to be renamed because the Olympian expressed support for same-sex marriage. When ­invited on Channel 10’s The Project, the sporting hero was roundly mocked and spoken over by those on the panel who weren’t interested in listening to someone who supports same-sex marriage. They simply wanted to proselytise in favour of traditional marriage.

Turning the tables, imagine that in September 2015 a Tas­manian defender of traditional marriage lodged a complaint with Equal Opportunity Tasmania over a booklet that set out the reasons why same-sex marriage should be legalised. Suppose, too, that in May this year the outgoing anti-discrimination commissioner revealed why she thought there was a case to answer: the booklet — distributed only to same-sex marriage supporters — offended and humiliated those who support traditional marriage.

If switching the two sides hasn’t sparked outrage yet, imagine that in the busy month of May for defenders of traditional marriage, the Australian Medical Association called on parliament to recommit to marriage as the union between one man and one woman, dressing up its support as a health issue. “There are ongoing, damaging effects of having a prolonged, divisive, public debate,” it said in its position statement, leading AMA president Michael Gannon to write to Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten urging a bipartisan approach on traditional marriage.

Sticking with this, consider that the NSW Law Society also endorsed traditional marriage in a joint press release with the Bar ­Association and the NSW branch of the AMA.

Lawyers with different views complained that members were not consulted and the press release gave the misleading impression that traditional marriage is favoured by all 29,000 solicitors in NSW. The president of the Law Society scoffed at the complaints, noting that the society regularly makes decisions on a range of important legal issues.

Now try to imagine months, nay years, of campaigning by the taxpayer-funded broadcaster — across radio, television and online — to defend traditional marriage. So much airtime devoted to supporters of traditional marriage that viewers have started to wonder whether ABC employees are paid to be activists rather than impartial journalists. When an ABC host interviewed the head of a same-sex marriage group a few weeks back, the journalist asked what right did a same-sex marriage supporter have to cheer a heterosexual athlete?

And when the nat­ional broadcaster interviewed on prime time TV a couple who will vote Yes to gay marriage, it was so out of kilter with its normal programming, it made headlines across Australia’s media outlets.

Substitute the two sides to the same-sex marriage issue one more time when traditional marriage activists last week launched an ­online campaign against a doctor who appeared in a TV ­advertisement supporting same-sex marriage. The online platform powered by GetUp! demanding that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the AMA review her registration quickly attracted 6000 signatories from those defending traditional marriage. When news of the bullying was reported in the media, GetUp! pulled the petition and claimed it bore no responsibility for the intimidation directed at “Dr Yes” for appearing in a same-sex marriage advertisement.

Is your head spinning from the intolerance and the intimidation? Ready to condemn the personal attacks and the mob mentality of activists who have undermined the freedom to hold a different view? If switching the sides around is not enough to cause strategic thinkers on the Yes side of same-sex marriage to rethink the present campaign, they’re looking at an own-goal defeat, not just in the coming vote but beyond. A more sensible, tolerant and respectful campaign by same-sex marriage crusaders would understand that same-sex marriage should be founded on the broadest possible base of community acceptance.

It’s no surprise that those with strong views on both sides have settled into their respective trenches, shouting over one another and refusing to budge. But there is a world of difference between those who have been critiquing same-sex marriage, even succumbing to ill-conceived claims, and those who call for people with different views to be sacked, ­deregistered or hung, drawn and shamed in the public square or at least on national TV. There is no moral equivalence between the bullying and disagreement, even shouty disagreements.

And the silence on the Yes side about the bullying has ­become a shaky moral alibi for the bullies to continue to browbeat people with a different view.

On Thursday afternoon following the High Court’s decision, Labor’s most prominent Yes campaigner, Penny Wong, condemned “the nasty arguments” by some on the No side. Draped in a rainbow flag, Greens leader Richard Di Natale pointed to the need for stronger laws to stop misleading statements made during the campaign.

In the absence of greater moral clarity from same-sex marriage supporters denouncing intimidation used by their side, many more Australians will vote No as a protest against a campaign premised on tolerance that has practised repeated intolerance.

Try switching the sides around beyond the same-sex marriage ­debate. How would you respond to five university students being dragged through the courts and the byzantine bureaucracy of the Australian Human Rights Commission because an employee at the university was offended by the suggestion segregated classrooms for indigenous students make sense. What would the response be if the AHRC touted for complaints against a cartoonist who drew a cartoon that suited your chosen politics?

Turning the tables on intolerance unsettles the mind, which is no bad thing. It could encourage a greater level of consciousness, rather than the lazy reflexive ­responses we fall back on when we’re not being intellectually ­rigorous.


'Base-load investment scheme' could keep coal alive, but Liddell power station has 'mammoth problems'

Support is hardening in the federal Coalition for coal-fired power to have a medium-term role in Australia's electricity market, with some MPs suggesting a "base-load investment scheme" to upgrade and extend the life of coal plants and operate alongside a future Clean Energy Target.

But the Liddell power station at the centre of the political fight over energy is operating at below half its rated capacity, and would present "mammoth problems" for any company seeking to extend its life, according to a former senior Macquarie Generation engineer.

The retired senior engineer, who worked at the neighbouring coal-fired Bayswater plant and had frequent discussions with his counterparts at Liddell, said Liddell was known "to have massive problems".

"It's just never been a good plant," the man, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. "It's never been reliable."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to meet AGL chief executive Andy Vesey on Monday to discuss the company's plans to close its Liddell power plant in 2022. The Australian Market Energy Operator said earlier this week Victoria and South Australia could face electricity supply shortfalls as early as this summer, while NSW could endure a similar squeeze after Liddell shuts.

The federal government has not ruled out taking a partial stake in the Liddell plant as a last resort to maintain the plant, but believes it is likely a private sector buyer, such as Delta Electricity, will be found to keep it operating.

Fairfax Media spoke to six Coalition MPs who identify as conservatives or who are from The Nationals on Thursday, and all confirmed that a "grand bargain" was needed to ensure the medium-term future of coal plants for Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to secure support for a Clean Energy Target.

"It's obvious what needs to happen. We need to find a solution. We all want a solution. We will likely do some clean energy but also upgrade base-load [coal] infrastructure," one said.

Mr Frydenberg may also face a push to water down the Clean Energy Target proposed by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

He would not comment on whether he had had discussions about a "base-load investment scheme" when contacted by Fairfax Media, but said the AEMO report "has reset the debate about energy policy".

The engineer familiar with Liddell said the plant routinely had at least one of its four units out of operation, and that half of the rated 2000-megawatt capacity was suddenly unavailable on February 10 – the first day of a record NSW heatwave – due to leaks in boiler tubes. That poor performance was despite its turbines being replaced about a decade ago.

On three occasions, the plant's equipment had oil supply failures that led to turbines grinding to a halt in about 10 minutes, compared with 40 minutes under normal conditions; "basically wrecking" the machinery.

Dylan McConnell, a researcher at Melbourne University's Climate & Energy College, said Liddell operated at just 39.6 per cent capacity in August.

That level was about half the capacity utilised of Victoria's aging Hazelwood power plant in the final year before its closure in March.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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