On Saturday, more than 8000 people across the country took part in the National Day of Action for same-sex marriage, with over 250 couples taking part in illegal gay weddings.
In Sydney the 1500 strong crowd gathered at Town Hall for speeches from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, actor Matt Young and journalist and author Katrina Fox. There was a real buzz on arrival, plenty of media, music from Technotronic and Aretha Franklin blaring from speakers, and a diverse crowd, some dressed in wedding dresses and veils, others in matching suits and ties.
The crowd then walked from Town Hall to Darling Harbour, where Labor’s National Conference was being held, chanting “Gay straight black white, marriage is a civil right” and “What do we want? same sex marriage! When do we want it? Now!” There was a speech from Greens MP Lee Rhiannon before Reverend Karl Hand from the Metropolitan Community Church presided over the group wedding ceremony.
While in Melbourne: The Age reports that there were roses, wedding veils and even a three-tiered cake. 65 people took part in the mass wedding ceremony and almost 4000 gathered in Federation Square in central Melbourne for the Equal Love march. There were performances from pop singer Katie Underwood and vocal quartet The Nymphs.
In Brisbane hundreds gathered in Queen’s Park chanting “This is what democracy sounds like” and in Canberra there was a group of 100 people who assembled at Garema Place.
Marriage equality advocates are angry the ALP National Conference has failed to properly debate same-sex marriage, voting instead to keep marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson, Alex Greenwich, said in a statement “The ALP’s failure is deeply hurtful to same-sex partners, offensive to the majority of Australians who support same-sex marriage, and embarrassing to the entire nation at a time when even Albania is moving forward on this issue.”
Mr Greenwich said the ALP’s new policy for a national framework recognising personal relationships is no substitute for equality in marriage for same-sex couples, and actually highlights marriage discrimination.
“The ALP’s new policy effectively says all personal relationships will be recognised for all purposes, except same-sex couples still can’t marry.”
“Whether the new policy allows civil unions to have ceremonies or not is beside the point because civil unions entrench discrimination be giving same-sex relationships a second-best status.”
Mr Greenwich also rejected Attorney-General, Robert McClelland’s, view that the Federal Constitution prevents the Government from allowing same-sex marriages.
“The Rudd Government is using the Constitution as a smoke screen for its own prejudices and cowardice”, Mr Greenwich said.
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has expressed profound disappointment at the decision of the Australian Labor Party National Conference to keep the current definition of marriage, which explicitly excludes same-sex couples.
“The decision of the ALP national conference to continue discrimination in marriage law against same-sex couples is deeply disappointing for the gay and lesbian community. According to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the Australian Labor Party is a party of the future, built on the principles of fairness and inclusion. However, this decision shows that this fairness and inclusion does not extend to same-sex couples,” said Emily Gray, GLRL Co-Convenor.
A 2009 Galaxy Poll, conducted by Australian Marriage Equality, found that 60% of Australians support giving same-sex couples the right to marry. Australia is falling behind other comparable nations in formal relationship recognition. Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and six US states grant the right to marry. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland and several other nations provide a civil union or registered partnership scheme.
Ms Gray concluded, “Same-sex couples have all the rights and responsibilities of married couples – but not the right to marry. There is no valid reason to continue this discrimination. It is time that all sides of politics caught up with community attitudes and makes a commitment to full equality.”
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is urging community members to make their voices heard in the current Senate Inquiry into same-sex marriage.
ON PAPER, Dan Choi is everything the US military could hope for: a graduate of West Point academy, he has served in Iraq and is fluent in Arabic and Korean.
Despite his talents and experience, the army is seeking to get rid of Lieutenant Choi because of a personal quality it considers incompatible with military life: he is openly gay.
In one of the last instances of government-sanctioned discrimination, the military allows gay men and lesbians to serve in the military only if they keep quiet about their sexuality. For more than a year after meeting his boyfriend and falling in love, Lieutenant Choi was forced to lie or risk joining a list of almost 13,000 gay and lesbian personnel discharged in the past 16 years under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
"What if I deploy and he can't come to the tarmac to wish me goodbye," he asked himself, "or kiss me when I come back?" If he were to fall in combat, to whom would the army present the flag that draped his coffin?
"I started my first relationship ever in life at age 27," Lieutenant Choi said. "I'm understanding finally what love is. I have to make the decision: am I going to continue lying?"
He decided the answer was no. In March he announced on television he was a gay soldier. The military responded with a letter saying he would be charged with violating army regulations. Lieutenant Choi faces a disciplinary panel.
"You admitted publicly that you are a homosexual," the letter read. "Your actions negatively affected the good order and discipline of the New York Army National Guard."
"It's an insult to their professionalism," Lieutenant Choi said of the insinuation that fellow soldiers cannot abide a gay comrade. "They care about what a person can do for the team. We're in a time of war. We have bigger things to worry about than people being gay."
The discharge of thousands of people because of their sexuality over the past 16 years has generated strong criticism that the military is diminishing its strength when the country cannot afford it.
The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns make onerous demands on manpower and relations remain tense with Iran and North Korea. But lawyers say the army has discharged 59 gay Arabic linguists and nine gay Farsi linguists in the past five years.
Lieutenant Choi will probably be offered an honourable discharge. But he intends to fight. If he loses, he risks forfeiting his military pension and health benefits.
Yesterday in Times Square on the TKTS stairs some folks did a photo "recreation" of the Stonewall Riots, this weekend being the 40th Anniversary.
Participants included Gavin Creel and other cast members from HAIR, sexy chorus boys dressed as sailors, and dancers/voguers from the Federation of Ballroom Houses, who will be featured in this Saturday's LOVE BALL – the official opening night party of NYC’s Gay Pride – at the Nokia Theater, Times Square (www.saintatlarge.com).
Hippies, drag queens and white boys were all present at the Stonewall Bar the night of the police raid, which ignited the riots.
Remembering the continued need to fight for equal civil rights and marriage equality, performers re-staged this protest in Times Square in an effort to draw attention to this ongoing battle.
Firefighters John Ghiotto, Chad Allison, Jason Hewitt and Alexander Kane. Photo from wnd.com.
Four firefighters ordered to take part in a gay pride parade have been awarded over US$34,300 after successfully suing San Diego city for sexual harassment.
A California court ruled on Tuesday that San Diego city will have to pay US$34,300 in total to compensate four firefighters for lost earnings and emotional distress for having to march in the city's gay pride parade - an act that constituted sexually harassment.
According to media reports, Captain John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison sued the city because they were ordered to drive a fire truck in the 90-minute San Diego gay pride parade in 2007 even though firefighters in previous gay-pride parades had reported being taunted with sexual innuendoes.
In the official Complaint of Discrimination document filed by Ghiotto and made available by Fox News, Ghiotto said that himself and his crew were subjected to crude comments, vulgar actions and simulated sex acts along the parade route.
Attorney Charles LiMandri also said his clients witnessed a man groping another man along the parade route, creating an offensive work environment.
The jury ruled that each of the four should receive US$5,000. One should receive an additional US$14,200 because he felt compelled to transfer to a different fire station after the incident, and another will receive US$100 as reimbursement for a co-pay for a counseling session.
The jury concluded after two days of deliberation that the Fire Department violated its own anti-sexual-harassment policy by forcing the four into the parade over their objections.
Jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the first civil trial last September. In that trial, the firefighters' attorney asked the jury to award each firefighter from US$500,000 to US$1 million.
Since the lawsuit was filed, Fire Chief Tracy Jarman, who marched in the parade, has changed departmental policy, making participation in parades voluntary. The city attorney's office, which represented the Fire Department in the lawsuit, plans an appeal.
My Thoughts on this:
To the above fire fighters - Have a cup of Tuff the Fuck Up!
Now you know what the GLBT Community go through every day in almost every country in the world!, except add gay bashings and hate crime....
I am a gay fire fighter and do I complain with girls yelling out show us your hose and when they expose themselves, NO...
Secondly don't flatter yourselves, do you really think any gay man would be interested in you, fat old men.... hmm I feel for your wives having to kiss your faces!
One man was killed and 36 others injured as a massive blaze swept through a shopping and residential complex in Bangkok's Chinatown district on Sunday night, just days after a fire at a nightclub in the Thai capital claimed dozens.
A 45-year-old man was killed in fire that razed through a popular sauna in Sua Pa Plaza on Bangkok's Charoen Krung road in Pom Prab district.
Bangkok's The Nation newspaper reported that the victim – identified by the police as Sanguan Saenkaew - was found by rescue workers on the seventh floor of the building early Monday morning. He is believed to be a patron of GSM Sauna at the time of the fire. Reports say about 60 fire engines fought the blaze which took hours to put out.
The blaze was reported to have started at about 8.30pm on Sunday night. Some 100 people were evacuated from the nine-storey building via two firetruck ladders and a helicopter.
The sauna - said to be popular among locals and travelers from Hong Kong and Taiwan - also operated a massage parlour on the fourth floor and guesthouse on the sixth floor.
The incident follows a fire that killed at least 64 partygoers at Santika, an upscale Bangkok nightclub which was full to its 1,000-person capacity on New Year's Eve.
The country's building and fire code standards has been called into question as police revealed that Santika had been refused a licence as an "entertainment venue" since 2004 due to safety concerns but it remained legally open as a restaurant while appealing that decision. It has also emerged that the club had no emergency lighting or sprinkler system, had only one door for entry and exit known to patrons and there were bars on the windows.
A Singaporean, who was in the Thai capital over the New Year's Eve holidays and saw the fire engines on the streets, said that he shudders to consider a similar fate befalling Silom Soi 2 or 4 – well known clusters of crowded gay bars and clubs located on narrow dead-end lanes.
"It's the main reason why I never go to DJ Station anymore and haven't been for the last five years," said the 30-something businessman who prefers not to be named.
"Fire safety codes are evidently not enforced at many venues, including many clubs, bars and saunas frequented by the gay community. Patrons should exercise caution and voice their concerns to the staff and management of such establishments."
Another commented on a gay news list: "Fire safety and precautions in many of the 30 or so gay saunas in BKK are crappy. I even don't know how to get out of the darkroom in a fire."
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE
As a fire fighter myself in Australia I am terrified of the potential for a fire in Silom Soi 2 and or 4 as the entrance lane to this very popular and frequently full area is no more than 3 meters wide! Every time I enter this area I am on edge as I know if there was a fire probably 90% would die.
We can only hope that these two incidents result in laws to be changed and the inspection of premises by the fire service authorities.
In a post on his blog, 24-year-old gay porn star Mason Wyler suggests that while he might be promiscuous, his claim that he was brutally beaten, gang-raped and held at gunpoint at his home in late September is completely true.
The latest post at Wyler Nation from the prolific adult film performer was in response to suggestions and comments circulating around the web which posit that Wyler, who is known in the adult film industry as a ‘power bottom,' concocted his story of sexual battery at the hands of 28-year-old army captain as a publicity stunt and that he willingly engaged in the abusive activities he claims to have been subjected to.
According to a statement Wyler gave to police at the end of September, he lost his wallet at a local bar and had it returned to him at his home by an army captain, who got extremely aggressive after Wyler was initially receptive to assailant’s advances.
In his original blog post, which was accompanied by photos of his injuries, Wyler alleges that the army captain demanded money from him for the return of the wallet, then punched him and kicked him before forcing him to strip off all his clothes and perform oral sex on him.
Unfortunately, this news will come as no surprise, but gays have again been singled out as being at greater risk of depression, substance abuse and suicidal behaviour.
The new research from University College London furthers the argument that on the whole gay people are more prone to suffering from mental health issues than the straight people in the general population.
The analysis of 25 past studies on sexual orientation and mental health found that across all of the studies gay and bisexual adults were at least 50% more likely than straights to have a history of depression or an anxiety disorder.
There was also a similarly elevated risk of alcohol problems or other forms of substance abuse amongst gays, and they were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide at some point in life as compared to straight people.
While gays were more prone to depression, the researchers stressed that in no way does that mean that homosexuality itself was any kind of mental disorder.
The researchers have suggested that the most likely contributing factor to increased levels of mental health issues is the lifetime of subtle and overt discrimination that gay people face.
The head researcher Michael King stressed that while it was important for mental healthcare workers to be aware of an increased prevalence of issues with gay people, the presence of any mental health issues were not necessarily related to the patient's sexuality.
A bitter ex-wife of a newly out gay man has sought revenge on him by posting his coming-out letter on the online auction site Ebay.
In her selling-spiel, the woman writes on the site saying: "You are bidding on the original letter given to me by my former husband when he decided to 'come out of the closet' and face me (his wife at the time), and our kids, to let us know of his sexual preference."
She goes on to write that: "I do not know what it is worth, yet, to us and to a lot of people who would have been through a similar situation, the sentimental value is just priceless. This is a story of love, but not just any story.....it is the greatest of them all....."
OMG, are you serious woman, one is born gay, if you think it is a preference then you need some advice. I can not imagine how you must feel, but you are lucky to have had someone in your life. I feel for you but I feel for your husband too as he has lived a lie for the best part of half his life.
What gives you the right to then sell the letter on ebay, coming out is not an easy thing to do, some commit suicide, some never come out and live a sad and lonely life.
I remember when I told my family, I was terrified that I would loose them, far from the truth.
What do you think readers,