Moving On

The way forward for our world is to ensure that all people are included in our political process.

A secular government is important and vital for the health of our democracy.

This blog is now retired.

You can read my personal blog here and my technology blog here.

 

Posted in election 2010 | Comments Off

Here’s some questions

Hi,

My name is Gregory Storer. You will probably call me Greg, I prefer Gregory, but you know what, whatever works for you. My preferences are often overlooked because they’re just too hard for people to deal with. At times I introduce myself as Gregory, other times as Greg. It’s hard to work it out in my own head.

Today I took part in a baby shower. Isn’t that great. One of the women at work is having a baby and we all celebrate. I can only wish her all the best.

We do it a lot, celebrating the important events in peoples lives. It’s all so normal. We celebrate the engagement, the marriage, the conception and the birth of children. We then celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other major events in peoples lives.

I don’t have a problem with any of that. I celebrate too.

But, then, I’m not so normal. I don’t have a wife any more, I do have children, but they are adults. Some people like to tell me that I’m gay. Ok, let’s go with that. I don’t think you need to define my sexual preferences, because that’s what it means when you say I’m gay. It means I have sex with men. And you know what, that makes you feel uncomfortable. To be perfectly blunt, I have anal intercourse. Most people don’t even want to think about it. It’s not all I do, I enjoy a very full and rich sex life. It’s gratifying on so many levels. Deeply gratifying.

This isn’t about sex at all. I just wanted to get that out there. Perhaps you’d like to talk to me about it one day. I’m sure you’ve got questions. But in a polite society we don’t discuss it.

I listened today to a radio broadcast on Joy. The co-presenter said something along the lines of respecting people with religious beliefs. They think homosexuality is wrong, and I need to show respect to them.

You know what? I don’t respect them. You know why I don’t respect them? Because they don’t respect me, not even slightly. If they did they would remove the offending verses from the bible that refer to me as an abomination. They would remove the verses that call for my death. Don’t pretend that they don’t exist. Don’t pretend that they don’t matter, and don’t ever tell me that it’s about my actions and not about me. This is deeply personal. A large part of the community thinks I’m an abomination. They may not say so in so many words, but every time someone uses the word gay, fag or poof in a derogatory sense then that hurts me. Every time somebody says that homosexuality is immoral then that hurts me.

This is vilification, and it’s driven by religion, and driven by the horrible words used in a book. All sorts of readers of the book then use it as a weapon to ensure that I can’t live a happy and full life. They calmly sit there and tell me that I have to accept people’s beliefs. Even the Prime Minister uses the bible to defend antiquated notions of marriage and thinks it’s ok. If the bible said that people in wheel chairs where an abomination, would that be ok? If the bible called for death by stoning for adulterers, would that be ok? If the bible called for the death of anyone who worked on a Saturday, would that be ok? Sure, the moderates will say that the institution of marriage needs to be protected to preserve the family. Sure, they’ll say that I can change my sexuality, sometimes they’ll even claim that having a wife and two children is proof that I can change. The truth of these claims is that it is only driven by the notion that their god said being gay is bad.

I’m here to tell you that I can’t change. I tried and I really got messed up good and proper. Along the way I messed up the lives of some others too. Why did that happen? Because I was trying to be normal. What ever that means.

Would the world be different if the bible (and other religions) made no mention of sexuality? What reason would you tell me that I couldn’t marry Michael if the words “it is an abomination” didn’t exist?

You know what I want? I want to feel ok about going to a baby shower because I know that people don’t think twice about same sex partners having children. I want to rejoice in marriage because I can do it too. I want my life to be celebrated too. At the moment there is no celebration because there is no milestone that can be clearly waved around.

I want to walk down the street and hold my partners hand without fear of every shadow that comes up behind me. Without the smirks and raised eyebrows, or worse, those who avert there eyes, coming towards me.

The other night I had dinner with my sister and my partner in Hardware Lane, lovely. When Michael arrived I gave him a kiss and a hug. I do that with some trepidation because people don’t like it and you never know how they’re going to react. Then a friend, a long standing, best mate friend, appeared out of no where. He hugged me and I felt an overwhelming sense of joy at seeming him. But in our world we can’t express that feeling. He’s got a wife, it won’t do for others to think he might be gay. (Although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind)

You want to know why I don’t ask about your partner? Because you’ve got an opposite sex partner. You won’t ask about mine, because it might be awkward. Best to keep it all sort of superficial.

Every time some person makes excuses for the religious types that they are allowed to have their beliefs, then they hurt me. Sure, I defend your right to believe whatever you want, but don’t think you can believe that I’m an abomination and expect that I’ll let you get away with it, because with or without your belief, that’s vilification. When you defend the right of religious people to believe the bible as the word of god, then you defend their right to think I’m immoral, that I have no right to life. You defend their right to hide behind their religion as a way of making it some how more acceptable to harbour hatred and to openly abuse me.

Here’s a challenge for you, what are you doing about marriage equality? When did you last have the conversation about marriage equality with people who are happily married or the engaged couple? When did you last raise it as an issue when no gay people are about? I bet it doesn’t even matter to you unless I happen to be sitting there. When it comes to that, when did you last ask me about marriage equality? When did you check in with me to see if I was upset by Julia Gillard suggesting that marriage is between one man and one woman and that’s not going to change? Did you ask me what I thought about marriage equality in New York? Did you even hear about it?

My deep and personal thanks to my brothers and sisters, my extended family, all of those friends of mine that actually care about my life, care about my former wife, care about my partner, Michael, care about my children, care about finding those things that we want to celebrate. The respect you show me is wonderful and I hope to honour you with the same respect.

I celebrate my life with Michael, I celebrate the joy of children. Thank you for being you.

Posted in election 2010 | 6 Comments

To be ignored

Following on from my previous post regarding On Line Opinion, it seems that some people would like to continue to imagine and create their own version of events.

One of the issues is whether or not me complaining about the comments was what caused the ANZ and IBM to withdraw their sponsorship, or, as some suggest, they withdrew because of the article and not the comments.  I think the answer is both.

The email from the ANZ in response to my request says, amongst many things this:

Whilst ANZ’s advertising does appear on this site, I can confirm that we do not have a sponsorship relationship with Online Opinion and do not endorse their content and opinions.

While they may have withdrawn support because of the overall piece, they did indeed pay attention to my email, took the trouble to return my email and told me what they were doing.

From my initial email to Young and his refusals to remove the comments, I started writing to the advertisers within a couple of hours, there was little point in waiting really, and as already stated, I had outlined to Young that that was my intended action.

It is my intention to make this issue known to your sponsors, I’ll be expressing my dismay to them

Full copies here.

I don’t know if anyone else complained.   There seems to be some notion that I have been trying to gain publicity.  For what end?  Apart from my name appearing on a few blogs around the Internet, I’ve hardly become a household name, and in fact I’m not overly excited about all the attention this has generated.

There was also some suggestion that I changed my own website by removing content so as to avoid people landing on an article about Gillard and marriage equality.  Just to set that right, this blog was intended for the 2010 election campaign, and has not be used since just after last years Federal Election.  The only change I made was the landing page, that is, instead of landing on the “About Me” page, which was sensible when I was running for election,  when you type in gregory.storer.com.au you now get my most recent blog.  I started using the blog again when I realised people where visiting it to find out about me, and this seems like the appropriate place to post this information.

And again, to reiterate the issue, as far as I’m concerned, I acted alone, I took it upon myself to challenge the vilification on a website that is an issue for me.  Right from the start I told Young I was going to talk to the sponsors.  I have made no demands on anyone or told anyone how to respond.

It seems to me that Young is attempting to shift the focus from his original post where he claimed that I was an activist and was lobbying the advertisers:

Which leads us to the question of whether it’s right for someone who disagrees with my publishing decisions to go to people who supply us with advertising and pressure them to withdraw that advertising?

And this in one of his latest rants:

He’s been very quick to claim credit for this, even though, as I keep saying, there is actually no evidence that anyone took any notice of him.

Well, I know that two companies took notice of me. ANZ and IBM, the same two companies that have withdrawn from the advertising agency.  And as I have said, while other companies did respond, they more or less said it wasn’t their problem.  And again, mostly I was just ignored, whether deliberately or unintentionally I’ll never know.

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On Line Opinion and Me

I’ve been a fan of On Line Opinion for many years now.  It has many interesting articles, lots of comments and can be thought provoking.

In November last year, On Line Opinion published an article on ‘homosexual marriage’ by Bill Muehlenberg.  Muehlenberg is a self-appointed Christian activist working to stop what he thinks is the moral corruption of our society.  He does this on his own blog and has a tendency to simply quote large amounts of text from other authors without adding anything new or different.  He, of course, only sees things from his Christian perspective, and there is no other side to any of his arguments.

In his On Line Opinion piece he attempts to dismantle homosexual marriage by using quotes from the ‘homosexual’ activists.

I disagree with Muehlenberg, on many levels.  However misguided he is, he is entitled to his opinion and in trying to reach an understanding of marriage in Australia, it’s important that as many people as possible express their opinions.

Then the comments start.   The first comment was just disgusting, followed by a range of fors and against, then one that set my teeth on edge:

Certain lgbt’s want their perversion to be called “normal” and “healthy”

I decided to do something about it.  It’s this sort of language that doesn’t help anybody.  It doesn’t add to the debate and is really very nasty.  It’s driven by no science or fact but by a religious belief based on the bible that some of humanity considers divine, not all humanity, just a small group of them.

So, I sent a very upfront email to Graham Young, expressing my feelings and saying that I intended to raise awareness with the advertisers on his site about the sort of comments they were supporting.  The full exchange can be found here.

After it was clear that Young was not interested in pulling the comments I then wrote to IBM and ANZ.  I’m well aware of IBM’s support of the GLBT community, I’ve seen their diversity stall at the annual Midsumma Carnival Festival for a few years now.  I also assumed that a bank like ANZ would have a diversity policy too.  While I was at it, I sent similar emails to any other sponsors I could find on the website.

Hello,

I see that you are a sponsor of Online Opinion website.

I’d like to draw your attention to this particular blog post:

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11268

While I disagree with the authors stand, I believe he has a right to express his point of view.

However, I think that some of the comments that follow the article are offensive, hateful and potentially harmful and should be moderated.

There is a clear link now between youth suicide and sexual orientation, overly negative comments such as on this site may have a detrimental effect and as such should be removed

ANZ is inclusive and respectful of people from all walks of life. To maintain your integrity I believe it important that you distance yourself from such websites and urge you to encourage Online Opinion to either remove the offending comments or withdraw your support for them.

Thanks for your attention.

Gregory Storer.

That’s it.  I urged them to talk with the website to either remove the comments or withdraw their support.

I had responses from ANZ and IBM that were encouraging.  A couple of polite responses from others that basically said ‘not our problem’ and the vast majority of sponsors just ignored me.

I also sent an email off to a mailing list I’m a member of.  I don’t know how many subscribers it has.  I told them of my actions, supplied details of the email I’d sent and invited them to do the same.  There was one response from the list, and that was to tell me they didn’t agree with my approach and wouldn’t be joining in.

All then went quiet for a couple of weeks, then Young published this blog, in which he expresses his opinion that he’s under attack by a number of gay activists.

and we are currently under attack from a number of gay activists because we dared to publish this piece by Bill Muehlenberg(which is mostly a pastiche of comments by gay activists) even though the majority of articles that I can find on the site on the issue support gay marriage.

And by attack I mean attempting to intimidate me, sponsors or advertisers.

Young was pretty quick to close the comments thread on this topic.

Next up was an article in The Australian that drew a bit of attention and then another blog by Young where he names me and provides a link to my outdated election blog and gives me the grand title of “activist”.

It seems from that point onwards that the truth was thrown out the window as various blogs began their own little forays into supporting On Line Opinion and simply making up things to support their cause.

Club Troppo launched into legal arguments based on corporate thugs suggesting I could be guilty of secondary boycotts, and this little gem from the author Ken Parish:

I agree that the person/s with bullying/thuggish intent is the gay activist/political candidate Gregory Storer. ANZ and IBM simply buckled at the knees reflexively no doubt for immediate commercial reasons, rather than even consider taking anything resembling a principled stand. They are undeniably the immediate agents of the thuggery though without the requisite thuggish intent/purpose under the TPA to inflict loss or damage.

Bully?  Thug?  Gay activist?  Political candidate?  The only part of that that is correct is the political candidate.  However, my actions have nothing to do with the Secular Party or my membership of the Secular Party.   A little later a full apology was forthcoming:

In those circumstances I certainly agree that I should apologise to Gregory Storer unreservedly, and I do so.  I feel both angry and stupid, but hopefully most of us learn from our mistakes.

A few unimportant and unread bloggers went so far as to suggest that I somehow was wielding huge economic powers, able to make multi-national corporations bend to my wishes and that I am the head of some big gay lobby group.  Seriously.

There was even some mention of this being a political stunt to get the Secular Party of Australia into the news, and that I was only undertaking this ‘lobbying’ to draw attention to myself.  May I suggest that it is in fact Young that has turned this into a media circus to draw attention to himself and increase his readership and revenue from the site.  He’s already had numerous donations and plenty of media exposure.  I have nothing to personally gain from my efforts.

I must say that I am stunned by all of this.  While there is no doubt in my mind that Young and his On Line Opinion perform an important role in our online discussion, he also should bear the responsibility of letting abuse, vilification and intolerance on his site.

It’s really quite simple – comments that vilify other people, whether its a group of people or an individual, should not be allowed to be published.  Plenty of blogs actually do this moderation thing really well, but not On Line Opinion.  Stupid, hateful comments are permitted so that the rest of the online community can pull them to shreds.  That’s not changing anyone’s opinions, and for too long now this backward policy has allowed radical, fundamentalist Christians the right to vilify and hurt people without just cause.

I’m not aware of Young’s financial arrangements, nor do I care.  It’s not my fault the advertising has been pulled.  All I did, and this is really simple, was state my case to Young, and when he refused to budge, I took the matter up with his advertisers.  Do I want to close down his site?  No.  Do I want to cause him financial ruin?  No.  Do I want him to understand that vilifying comments are not helping, that youth suicide, especially in the young gay demographic, is way too high and that one of the contributing factors is intolerance by family and friends?  Yes.

I am not a bully.  I am not a thug.  I am not an activist.  In my dealings with Young, the advertisers and sponsors, I have made no demands, I’ve politely asked them to reconsider their advertising.

I think this is a valid approach and I don’t regret any of it.  It’s a way of protesting that any Australian can do, and sometimes we get lucky and can enact a change.


Update 15 February 2011.

An additional blog in response to some comments posted on On Line Opinion.

Posted in General | 14 Comments

Online Opinion

Late last year I raised a complaint with the editor/founder/owner/moderator of Online Opinion on some blogs.

The result of this has been a saga of misinformation  by people who are ill informed and happy to create conspiracy theories.

This blog site has become a place that people link to – and I’ve not used it since the election, however, I thought it an appropriate place to state the case from my view and reveal the real story, without the spin.

Read on here.

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Election Day

A full day coming up, I look forward to your support!

As the votes roll in tonight, I’ll be updating them here on the blog – feel free to drop in occasionally and see how well the Secular Party of Australia is doing.
Click Here or find the Election Night link on the menu above.

Thanks.

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Gillard Condemned for Doing it Her Way

In the clearest example yet of why we need true secularism in Australia, Gillard has openly stated that she believes Australia has a Christian Heritage1, thereby negating all other immigrants that have arrived in Australia since European settlement and wiping away tens of thousands of years of indigenous heritage.

The Secular Party of Australia condemns Gillard for her outrageous claim that she accepts Australia’s cultural and religious heritage.  She ignores the fact that 42% of residents in Melbourne Ports are not Christian and she uses religion as an excuse to deny equality for all Australians.

Gillard stated in an interview that she accepts the Christian reason for marriage and ignores the fact that the Marriage Act was only changed in 2004 to specify marriage between one man and one woman.  Her use of the term ‘Christian heritage’ is disrespectful and deeply offensive to married people of no faith and of other religions.

Despite her personal held beliefs about marriage, she should not allow her decision to be based on religious grounds to the detriment of a section of the community.  Government should be about protecting minorities against the unjustifiable will of the majority.

The Secular Party of Australia’s policy is equality for all.  The removal of religion from government decision making is now paramount.  No one religion should be used to lord it over the rest of the population.

Media Release – Gillard Stands Condemned (20 Aug 10)

Posted in election 2010, Media Release | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Taking it Both Ways

Labor and Liberal in Melbourne Ports really want a bit of both sides of the action in this diverse electorate.  On one side we have about 12% Jewish, and on the other side a large gay population, neither of which is the majority.  58% are Australian born.

But Danby has been playing it both ways.  In the Jewish media he talks about his Jewish track record, how much the Labor government has spent in the Jewish community over the last three years.  Then at the Jewish News Candidate debate between himself and the Liberal candidate he called the last three years “The Golden Era of Labor and Jewish Schools”.  He’s very proud of that achievment.  Nowhere, to his Jewish voters, has he mentioned anything about gay rights or all the work he has purported to do for the gay community.  He’s strangely silent.

Over at the Melbourne Ports Candidate forum Danby makes no mention of this Golden Era, nor does he make any mention of his strong connections to the Jewish community.  He spoke about his great achievements and that of the Labor Government, but not once did he mention the hundreds of millions of dollars the Labor party has spent on Jewish schools.  That piece of information was kept quiet.

Now in rides Kev Ekendahl, astride the cash cow and promises the Jewish community $15 million for Jewish Schools.  In the loudest “Me too!” I’ve heard in years, the Liberals are bending over backwards to secure the prized Jewish vote.  Nowhere in his advertising in the gay media has Kev mentioned anything about his promises to the Jewish Community, and again, nowhere in his communication with the Jewish community does he mention he’s gay.

These two really do like taking it both ways.

Cut the crap.  Are they really so selective that they want to keep the two demographics of their potential voters apart?

Melbourne Ports deserves better than a couple of party hacks who will play the audience for fools, tell them only the nice bits, and ignore the tough bits in fear that it will cost them precious votes.

When you stand at the polling booth, ask yourself do you really want this sort of deceit from your elected representatives?  No?  Then you know what to do.

Vote [1] Gregory STORER in Melbourne Ports.

Vote [1] Penelope GREEN in Melbourne.

Vote above the line for the Senate and mark the Secular Party as [1] in Group R

We deserve to be represented by people with integrity, not hopefulls who only pander to sectional interest for the sole purpose of getting elected.  You need someone who will represent your views, without favouritism based on  religious lines or party politics. Melbourne Ports needs better representation and I can do that.

Posted in election 2010 | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Danby needs to respond

My partner Michael has been championing a cause for acceptance of sexuality in the Jewish community for many years.

He has taken issue with Michael Danby and Danby’s lack of response over the last twelve months to speak out about the problem and to take some action.  Danby has been strangely quiet when it comes to talking about intolerance of homosexuality in the Jewish community.

I ask that you read Michael’s blog, then when it comes to polling day, ask yourself, do you want someone who is prepared to stand up for what’s right in our community, or do you want someone who likes to have it both ways, keep the Jewish vote, keep the gay vote and hope that the rest of the electorate won’t notice the conflict.

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Taxing the Churches

The Secular Party of Australia estimates that the cost of religion in Australia is at least $30 billion a year.

Religious institutions receive many exemptions and benefits.  They don’t pay payroll tax, stamp duty or GST.

It’s time to end the rort!

Organised religions are in a privileged position in our society.  The Australian Tax Office considers the ‘advancement of religion’ as a justifiable reason to grant them charity status and tax exemptions.

Religions take full advantage of this and use their status to amass huge amounts of money that isn’t properly accounted for as their books are quite often closed to public scrutiny.

It really is time to review their charity status and, unless a church can show that their work is for the public benefit, that status should be removed and the money should be taxed.

The challenge for us is to recognise where religion is:

  • doing ‘charity’ work
  • taking advantage of our current taxes laws
  • making huge profits
  • not contributing to society as responsible corporate citizens

If you run a business, then you have to be prepared to pay your share of the tax.

Australia needs a Charities Commission, an organisation that would monitor and supervise non-profit organisations to ensure that the work they are undertaking is really for public benefit.

Your support of the Secular Party will allow us to pursue the true separation of church and state, an issue that needs correcting and one we are long over due for.


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Posted in election 2010 | Tagged , | 2 Comments