Yesterday was National Marriage Day, a celebration of homophobia, bigotry and fundamentalist clap trap held at Parliament House and organised by my old agents provocateur Warwick and Alison Marsh of The Fatherhood Foundation aka Dads4kids.
In recent years I spent a great deal of time in the immensely rewarding debunking and challenging of Christian Science and fundamentalism that had crept into illicit drug policy, leaving high numbers of vulnerable Aussies dead and/or abused in exorcisms. Young earth creationists, enemies of Darwin and “postmodernist science”, I remember one member writing on a public email list that I was “filled with hate” after I quoted from a Skeptic publication. I had begun to call family values “the F Word”.
Thanks to John Howard’s archaic views and federal health minister (no less) Tony Abbott’s short sightedness Australia fell away from being a world leader in harm reduction. In crept new terms like “harm prevention” (behaviour modification) and the argument amongst many that a family that eats together and goes to church together is “drug proofing” children, that jail was “compassionate”, even “love”. “I can’t help you if you can’t read (the bible)”, offered one opponent.
Debates on controlling lethal blood borne viruses flowed easily across the lines of discrimination and strident attempts were made to ban “addiction causing” needle exchanges, close injecting facilities and revive that old standard – condoms “cause” AIDS by promoting sexual promiscuity. We struggled to defend against well funded attacks from those who treated addiction not as a health problem, not just as a crime problem but as sin. Our problem, one Parliamentary Inquiry was told was that we suffered from “the disease sex, drugs and rock n roll”.
The epidemiological mechanisms of HIV spread are well known. Safe sex and safe injecting as components of harm reduction protect our entire community. Yet for some God fearing conservatives “beasts” and “self abusing sinners” just must not be. Worse, one only need read Andrew Bolt to see how easily is is to whip up support for all things “unnatural”. Drug policy critics, architects and representatives of the gay community and HIV educators were all targetted. Slowly but surely they drew their plans against us.
Yet, with reality being the undeniable thing it is, they gradually faded into the background. Although not until undermining 25 years of public health progress that is still years from being regained. To be sure the creatures from Drug Free Australia are still with us but are presently relegated primarily to preaching to Swedish and Scandinavian based human rights opponents. Where organised far right wing Christian fundamentalism against anything left leaning (that arguably bolsters dangerous minds like Anders Brevik) has it’s home.
A constant feature popping up and leaving you momentarily too stunned to move – like some moral horror from a Whack-a-Mole game designed by Stephen King – was Dads4Kids. Their delusion is simple. A Christian family “as God intended” is the answer to all social ills, whilst it’s absence is the cause.
So, it was with little surprise yesterday that I noticed Wazza and Aly playing much the same tune as on 18th September 2007 when John Howard took the podium at the National Strategic Summit on Marriage, Family and Fatherhood (see video below). John was also kind enough to open up Parliament House for the occasion. “Key leaders” in the “marriage, family and fatherhood movement” gathered along with whom Wazza and Aly claim were “academics and researchers”.
The “marriage manifesto” – A vision for the renewal of marriage in Australia today was born to these proud beaming parents. No doubt a phobic blueprint for discrimination against equality and same sex union, peppered with horrors that must befall the little ones, it’s success is mimicked in the fact that no-one has ever heard of it. They also released 21 Reasons Why Gender Matters (embedded below) which links homosexuality to drug abuse, crime and paedophilia. Speakers also included Senator John Holt, then Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, shadow Attorney General Joe Ludwick, minister for family and community, Mal Brough, minister for immigration, Kevin Andrews “and many others”. John Howard takes us back to Missouri circa 1950;
…. I am a strong believer that every child should have the opportunity of growing up with a mother and a father. I have that very strong view and you will be aware that I practiced what I preached in relation to policy issues on that, stretching way back to some stances I took in relation to IVF and er.. the like, some years ago. And of course the changes to the definition of marriage in the federal marriage legislation which I sponsored in 2004. I also happen to believe that a proper functioning family is the best social welfare system mankind’s ever devised [Applause]…. I wish you well and I think the goals of your coalition are first rate and I hope to keep in communication with you…
Oh my. How quickly we forget. How well Abbott has blinded us to the dysfunctional impact of conservatism. Given Abbott has no alternative policies and runs on the adrenalin of contrary attacks on Julia Gillard we would do well to remember this is the very dreck we so longed to have gone from federal office. In November 2009, Nicola Roxon dumped from her staff a “health ambassador” who was a co-author of 21 reasons why gender matters. At almost the same time, Abbott described himself as “the ideological love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop”. Be afraid dear reader, be very afraid. The bigotry of the Coalition is alive and well.
So yesterday’s phobic fun fest was predictable. Always attention seeking and always unprofessional Warwick and Alison Marsh chose to channel Miranda Devine, who recently linked gay parents and Penny Wong to the London riots. It was no accident that Devine published her article in the lead up to National Marriage Day, and took a swipe at Labor’s upcoming national conference with same sex marriage on the agenda. Devine wrote in part;
The traditional heterosexual norm of a nuclear family and children is something to be kept in a closet like an embarrassment… No one can be a wife or husband any more. Everyone is a “partner”.
“You don’t have a child to make a political point, do you?” [Wong] says. But others are having a field day, cynically using the four-month pregnancy as a weapon in the relentless push for same-sex marriage.
You only had to see the burning streets of London last week to see the manifestation of a fatherless society. The collapse of family life in Britain has been laid bare, reported to have the highest proportion of single mothers in Europe and nearly half of all children suffering family breakdown by the age of 16.
Devine is still fighting criticism on Twitter almost three days later as I write. The Marsh couple, whose impact on kids who don’t fit their narrow views is all too clear and who use creepy terms like “father wound” to describe the absence of a father, also missed the primary flaw in this foul argument. Over one third of heterosexual marriages fail and one would expect these moral judges to get their own house in order before launching into single mums and gay couples. Nonetheless Wazza and Aly shine with their duo performance;
Warwick: Cultural elites many are whom are ultra-feminists have waged war on marriage and fatherhood in Britain for three decades. Last weeks riots are a prime example of their success.
Alison: Tragically exactly the same thing is happening here in Australia. Congratulations have flowed to the well known radical feminist Penny Wong, and her lesbian partner on the impending birth of her partners new baby.
Warwick: But where are the tears for the child who will grow up without her father in the home? Or where are the tears for the fatherless children who will one day occupy over 70% of the capacity of our already overcrowded jails?
Alison: Where are the tears for the fatherless children who medicate their father wound through self destructive alcohol, drug, porn and sex addiction? And who will in many cases end up taking their own lives.
Bob Katter was there seeking to reclaim the word “gay”. “Nobody has the right to take that word off us… and that image off us”. No real comment other than an observation. The only other time I’ve heard this nonsense was during an awesome episode of The Infidel Guy in which Regi did battle with a hate filled and foul mouthed Tim Phelps. The son of Westboro Baptist founder Fred Phelps, Tim also had deep longings for this “beautiful word”. I imagine Fred Flintstone is similarly shattered.
Fortunately Peter Reith, Fran Kelly and Peter Lewis give this insult the swift disposal it deserves. “Disgraceful, shameful… a warping of the debate to talk about fatherless children as though they’re the children of gay couples… the most offensive thing I’ve heard on The Drum, including anything panelists have ever said”.
Now on with the show below. But I’ll stress this one more time. Just what do you think the science illiterate Tony Abbott has to offer Australians? Be afraid… be very afraid.