Tag Archives: Bill Meuhlenberg

Who would Jesus sue?

15 Jan


If you are interested in Melinda Tankard Reist’s fundamentalist Christianity you’ll find a biography here with far more detail than I provided, including her affiliation with the Salt Shakers, a Christian fundamentalist organisation founded by, among others, strident anti-homosexual Baptist preacher Bill Meuhlenberg. Meuhlenberg’s latest anti same-sex marriage rant, titled “When darkness descends upon a nation” was written in reaction to the recent ALP decision to support same-sex marriage.

Among other rhetorical gems, you’ll find this comment on Prime Minister Julia Gillard:

And what of Labor’s leader? Did we really ever expect that a fornicating socialist atheist was going to really hold the line on this? Of course not; certainly not when she is in bed with our other leader, a homosexual socialist atheist.

What you will also discover in the Tankard Reist bio is that for 12 years she was employed by Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine as his bio ethics advisor. During this period Harradine successfully prevented Australian women from accessing the drug RU 486 despite it being available in other Western countries, and the numerous trials that had proven it’s safety and effectiveness as an early abortion drug.

But wait! There’s more! During Tankard Reist’s employment as his bio ethics advisor, Harradine also successfully prevented AusAID,the main Australian government overseas aid organisation, from funding any organisations that provide “abortion training or services, or research, trials or activities which directly involve abortion drugs,” even where it could save the life of a woman.

The Harradine-determined AusAID policy allowed funding for counselling after an abortion, but disallowed the dissemination of advice and education to women in underdeveloped countries who sought safe abortion.

A World Bank Report at that time estimated some 68,000 women in underdeveloped countries died as a consequence of unsafe abortion, and some 5.3 million suffered temporary or permanent disability.

This situation caused Bernard Keane to write this in Crikey, in an article titled “AusAID conservatives have blood on their hands:”

As a consequence of the restrictions, thousands of women overseas have died from unsafe abortions (see Sue Dunlevy’s excellent article from last year for some figures). Those deaths are a direct legacy of Brian Harradine and the Howard Government’s willingness to cater to the medieval delusions of the superstitious.

Tankard Reist’s involvement with fundamentalist Christians opposed to abortion, contraception, surrogacy, and homosexuality are well documented, and I have to wonder why she’s singled me out at this point in time for writing about her religious beliefs.

Throughout her career, Tankard Reist has doggedly described herself as a feminist, despite her anti choice stand, and her willingness to align herself with people such as Meuhlenberg and Harradine, who seek to exert their control over women’s bodies. Tankard Reist appears to be quite comfortable supporting and abetting this urge to dominate and control women, while simultaneously railing against what she considers the objectification, sexualisation, and pornification of women in popular culture.

Tankard Reist apparently has no qualms about having worked for a man whose determination to impose his religious beliefs on government policy prevented women far less fortunately placed than herself  from accessing medical help and education about contraception and abortion. It appears to be of little consequence to her that women in underdeveloped countries suffered and died as a direct consequence of Harradine’s religious beliefs, during the period when he was her employer.

Yet show her a Kanye West video or a Brian McFadden clip, or women in Victoria’s Secret lingerie who like pole dancing, and she’s got petitions going every which way to silence and censor. What’s wrong with this picture?

As I think Jesus is reported as having observed, by their friends you shall know them.

(The title of this post comes from a tweet I received yesterday and I think it’s brilliant.)

UPDATE: I received the letter of demand from Tankard Reist’s lawyers on my personal email address. They state that they’ve sent a hard copy to my home address. I am not in the phone directory and I have no landline in my name. My personal email address isn’t available on my blog and neither is my home address. It probably wasn’t difficult to find someone who would divulge my email address, but my home address? 

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The perfection of heterosexual marriage?

8 Feb
Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

Image via Wikipedia

This article  written by me was first published at On Line Opinion December 2010.

Editor Graham Young published it in response to the earlier anti gay marriage piece by Bill Muehlenberg.

I have just read the article by Bill Muelhlenberg, Dismantling a homosexual marriage myth, published in Online Opinion Thursday November 25 2010, for the second time.

The sentiments expressed are the polar opposite to my own views on the subject of same sex marriage, views I’ve expressed in articles on this site. However, there is one point on which we agree.

The struggle for the right to same sex marriage does have several dimensions, as the article suggests, not all of them immediately apparent. The struggle is indeed about far more than a simplistic change to the wording of the Marriage Act. (Though it must be noted here that the wording of Marriage Act was in fact changed by the Howard government in 2004 to define marriage as only permissible between a man and woman. So perhaps the wording of the original Act was not quite so simple, if Howard felt compelled to change it).

I do not agree, however, that these deeper dimensions of the debate are gay conspiracies designed to subversively change the nature of marriage altogether. Indeed, I find the arguments for this theory rather bizarre.

For example. There is nothing currently in the Marriage Act that speaks to a legal prohibition against infidelity. Monogamy is nothing more than individual hope and intention. That is, there is no legal requirement for monogamy in the Marriage Act that faces revision or extinction should gays and lesbians be allowed to marry.

I am completely at a loss as to understand how permitting marriage between gays and lesbians will encourage infidelity and promiscuity in heterosexual married couples.

The author claims that, “The wonderful interaction of a man and a woman in the complementarity of heterosexual marriage is what makes it so special and beneficial.” De facto relationships aren’t blessed with this special beneficence, according to his paradigm. The author doesn’t mention whether this “complementarity” is only available in Christian marriage, and denied to those who marry in the Registry office or in mosques and synagogues.

I’d like to suggest that what makes a marriage “special and beneficial” is the commitment of the couple, to one another and to the love they live and create, regardless of their gender, religion or lack of it. I’d like to remind the author that very similar arguments were made, not so very long ago, against marriage between blacks and whites.

There are heterosexual marriages that work really well. There are heterosexual marriages that are sites of nuclear devastation and certainly do not work at all. And there are heterosexual marriages that occupy a place between these two extremes, and muddle lovingly along without much drama, one way or the other. But how, I ask in all good faith, will permitting gays and lesbians to marry affect the nature, progress and outcome of any of those marriages?

“The truth is,” the author instructs us, because he clearly believes he is someone who knows a) what the truth is, and b) what most of us think the truth is,  “homosexuals do not at all have in mind what most of us understand marriage to be.” I have to take Meulhlenberg up on this, because I was taught from an early age to always question terms such as “most of us.” To someone from my background (and there are many of us), the use of the term “most of us” to support an argument implies an unsubstantiated but hegemonic perspective that may well be highly inaccurate, if not delusional, and we must treat it with caution.

It is always inadvisable to assume that everybody else thinks like you, or that a “most of us” even exists.

Just what demographic is this “most of us” supposedly comprised of, anyway?

Whether or not all homosexuals have a different concept of marriage from “most of us” has not been determined. But whether they do or not is actually quite irrelevant in terms of the effects of their concepts on heterosexual marriage.

Heterosexuals can already do exactly whatever they choose within their marriages. There is nothing to stop them pursuing any and all kinds of perversions, unless one party in the marriage complains to the police. Gay and lesbian marriage is not going to change the status quo for heterosexuals, even if their ideas are as different as the author claims.

Back to the point on which we do have agreement. The struggle for same sex marriage is indeed about much more than allowing gays and lesbians the same marriage rights as heterosexuals. It is a struggle for equality. It is a struggle for the legal recognition of the all-embracing power of that force we call “love.” All embracing, that is, not exclusive. I do not believe that love excludes. I believe inclusion is one of its prime characteristics. I won’t presume to add that I believe “most of us” agree with my perspective, but I know some people do.

The struggle for same sex marriage is about our nation having the generosity of heart to acknowledge, in its laws, that love comes in many and varied ways, and there is not one amongst us who has the right to judge which loving way is right, and which loving way is wrong.

There are many arguments to be made against marriage, heterosexual and gay. There are many arguments to be made for it. There is no reasonable argument to be made for same sex couples being excluded from this institution, with all its wonders and all its failings. If some gays and lesbians wish to marry, for better or for worse, then it is their business and there is no good reason to exclude them from the joys and the catastrophes of the married state.

If there is fear abroad for the future of marriage, then address that fear at its real causes. For example.  Family violence in heterosexual marriage. The abuse and sexual abuse of children within heterosexual partnerships. Infidelity, overt and covert.  Inequality in heterosexual marriages.

To quote the magnificent Leonard Cohen on this last point, there’s “the homicidal bitching that goes down in every kitchen to determine who will serve and who will eat.” As far as I am aware, much of this ‘homicidal bitching” goes down between heterosexual couples, and frequently concerns how much more housework women do than their male partners.

As well, there are heterosexuals who could well write an article titled “How to be married and still be a slut.” (I have strong reservations about the use of the term ‘slut’ in this pejorative manner, but that discussion is for another time and place).

The impression Meulhenberg has worked hard to create in his article is that heterosexual marriage is some kind of perfect state that no one other than heterosexuals may aspire to, and whose perfection will somehow be threatened by including gays and lesbians in the Marriage Act. This is simply not true. Anything bad that can happen in marriage is already happening, and nobody seems to be able to do very much about preventing it, if the child abuse and domestic violence statistics are anything to go by.

The questions that immediately arise in this reader’s mind are, how fragile is this institution, that its proponents must circle their wagons against any and every perceived threat?  How fragile is this institution that some people must fight with all their might to keep it exclusive?

Will focusing on the perceived evils of gay marriage distract heterosexuals from their collective responsibility for the parlous state of the institution of which they are currently in sole charge? Because whatever is going wrong in marriages, and there’s plenty going wrong, responsibility for it certainly can’t be laid at the doors of gays and lesbians.

In our culture, marriage is still an extremely powerful public and legal acknowledgment of love and commitment. This acknowledgement ought to be available to anyone who wants it.

As I have written here before, “Same sex marriage and same sex adoption are not dangers from which governments need to protect us. But the tyranny of religions destroying anybody’s democratic rights to these things, most certainly is.”

Storer changes the story, and Michael plays a game

8 Feb

Gregory Storer

This is the public complaint Storer lodged against OLO, at the Ambit Gambit blog:

I’m one of the ‘gay activists’ who ‘attacked’ online opinion, however, I took exception to some of the comments that where posted after Bill Muehlenberg’s piece, not the actual essay.
I defend Bill’s right to his opinions, he should have he’s stuff published, but it’s the disrespectful and outright hatred of the comments that follow that are objectionable. As a person who is gay, I find those comments disturbing and they shouldn’t have a place in our society.
And I did the right thing, I raised the comments with Graham Young, he made it clear he thought the comments where ok, so the next step is to approach the sponsors and advertisers to make them aware of the sort of site they support and to express my disgust.
Online Opinion does a great job in allowing people to express their opinions by publishing their articles. The comment sections leave a lot to be desired.
Comment by Gregory — December 20, 2010 @ 3:30 am

I note Storer says he is  “one” of the gay activists that ‘attacked’ OLO. Therefore I and several other people took him at his word that he was “one of,” but one of how many we did not know.

I have since asked this question of his partner Michael Barnett, who approached me on this blog. This is the response:

Michael Barnett: I have the answers to your questions and you’d be surprised and disappointed with them.

Me: Well, tell us then.

Michael: I don’t need to tell you what I know. You can trust me.

WTF????

Now Storer claims to have acted alone.

Actually, the next step isn’t an economic boycott. The next step is the Anti Discrimination legislation. That’s what it’s there for.

Gregory Storer, Secular Party of Australia‘s candidate for Melbourne Ports in the 2010 federal election, has emerged as the man behind a gay lobby’s successful efforts to persuade the ANZ Bank and IBM to withdraw advertising from On Line Opinion.

Gregory’s mission statement reads in part as follows:

I firmly believe that there should be a clear separation of church and state.  I have a strong code of ethics and think that human rights should be paramount to the way we live our lives.

I would like to see an Australia that accepts its citizens for who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnic background.  We are all people, we are all entitled to equal rights and as citizens of Australia we all deserve to be treated with respect, to enable us to fully participate in our society.

Noble sentiments, Gregory. How do they sit with exerting your economic power to bring about the closure of an on line community because you feel it has offended you?

In an email to me earlier today, Gregory stated that he had not bullied, or engaged in standover tactics in order to close down OLO, and that he does not even want to close OLO down.

So what, then, I inquired, did he imagine his lobbying of  all the site’s sponsors to withdraw all their advertising dollars would achieve, if not financial knee capping of  the popular site?

Still waiting for the candidate to answer that question.

As to how large the gay lobby led by Gregory is, I haven’t been able to ascertain that so far. There must be some members of considerable economic power, if they are in a position to persuade corporations such as ANZ and IBM to change their advertising placements.

A quick peek at Bill Muehlenberg’s website, and the website belonging to the Australian Christian Lobby, reveals there’s outrage in both camps against the ANZ Bank for its pro gay marriage stance, and its attempts to apparently influence Bill’s freedom of speech.

Looks like the candidate for Melbourne Ports has caused a very diverse group of citizens to ponder if their rights have been disregarded in his pursuit of On Line Opinion.

“The Pink Mafia” is Muehlenberg’s term, one which until yesterday seemed pretty excessive. But today, having learned the lengths to which Storer and his gang are prepared to go to exert their will on the digital reading public, maybe Bill isn’t too far wrong.

Now that’s scary.

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