Friday, August 14, 2015

The Uluru Bark Petition - They don't speak for me




Today, thanks to the power of social media, I have come across this despicable act. I am so angry about it that I feel compelled to write something in the 20 minutes I have remaining in my lunch break. The above photo is what has been called the "Uluru Bark Petition" and it has been presented to government much to the gleeful hand-rubbing of the Liberal Party and particularly Senator Abetz. He has praised the group - which apparently contains about 30 people - for rallying to protect "traditional marriage" claiming that the campaign for same-sex marriage; which he believes wrongfully has only been around for about ten years; cannot hold up against several millennia of tradition. 

There are several reasons I am incensed to see this petition, and I will go into them shortly. First and most importantly though, it's because the Arrernte are named as being one of the groups of which support has been derived for this petition. I am Arrernte and I say plainly and clearly that THESE PEOPLE DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME. Indeed, I strongly doubt that they speak for many, if any, of the groups they have named and the fact that they have named these groups is a rude and despicable act. They have not consulted, they have not polled and they have certainly not discussed widely. They have claimed authority on this stance while having none and I am so offended by their actions that I am calling it out. 

I have seen some "Stockholm Syndrome" stuff in my time in activism, but this really stands out. And it is news to me from an Arrernte perspective that marriage between a man and a woman is tradition and that other forms of marriage would be an affront. Last I checked, traditional marriage in Arrernte customs tended to include polygyny as well as monogamous pairings and certainly, we were not unique in this across the country. Polygyny, as opposed to the broader "polygamy" is the marriage of one man to several women. So this "tradition" that the signatories, that Brandis and that the media are crowing about - does it stretch to include actual traditions or are we conveniently overlooking some practices in order to be compliant and in accordance with the wishes of our oppressors?

I am not a supporter of marriage in general. In fact, I would sooner abolish the marriage act entirely and throw the definition of partnership wide open so that consenting adults would have the right to register and get recognised whatever relationship they are in AND be treated with complete dignity in our society. I'm not going to win that argument any time soon though. What I don't stand for ever though is homophobia, and particularly the legislated homophobia which was written into the Marriage Act by the Howard government. I therefore want this removed and I want marriage equality to become a reality in this country. I don't stand for the homophobia contained within this bark petition and I stand with all the people fighting to make marriage equality a reality in this country. I also do not align with the despicable views of Pastor Walker and call on him to retract his stated views that “This is a cultural initiative, it is not a Christian initiative" as this clearly is not the case.

THE ULURU BARK PETITION DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

Update:

A Facebook site calling themselves "The Marriage Alliance" posted the below photo on their page. When I responded by posting a link to this blog, I was banned from the page within three seconds. Check out the language used in it. I'd go out on a limb and say it is almost worse.







Update 18/8/15: I have started a petition. Please sign it here

16 comments:

  1. Why should the Government have any involvement is a loving spiritual union?? Why 'Register' anything with them so they can use it to control you! As you say "...abolish the marriage act entirely..."

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    1. Personally, I'm with you and the government can get their nose right out of my personal relationships altogether. I understand some people weirdly think that government recognition is a good idea ;)

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    2. I don't think the question of 'why should they' is there in this discussion of Marriage Equality. Equality isn't that hard to follow, it suggests in this case, pretty clearly, that we have the same rights as people who want to marry someone of the opposite sex. And we don't. We don't have equality. While the 'abolish marriage act' is a lovely aspiration and I get it. It's also an enormously safe position to have, since it won't happen, and it forgets the basic thing here: we aren't equal in our right to access something that IS a part of the system. Again, it's actually relatively easy (and I say this cos *I* found it easy, not because Celeste did) to talk about this in the hypothetical, but the thing is that it affects peoples lives. The notion that it has no legal impact is ridiculous and refuted at about every turn. And if you don't believe me, try applying for a job from Australia in a country that permits same sex marriage and bringing your spouse along and hoping them to be recognised as such. Try marrying someone of the opposite gender and immediately being recognised as a spouse, or registering and waiting 12 months. Try hearing every day (on this AND in the context of other central parts of your identity) that you have no right to what others have. It's a problematic position to argue that 'we' don't want the constitution of marriage when we're directly challenging others for choosing this. Because what it says is that YOU don't want marriage equality. Not marriage, but marriage equality.

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    3. Sorry I meant to say that I realise you've expressed that you think it's weird, but it's also an important reality for some people and they aren't doing it flippantly.

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    4. SO'S, all of what you've written reflects my personal thoughts versus the reality of the situation. Thank you. I tried to address that to a degree in my final paragraph, but you've expanded on it better than I could regarding the various implications and discriminations.

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    5. miltonblock

      Why register your copy of antivirus software? Why register your fridge warranty? For the same reason you would register a civil or religious union - to reigister your conection to your partner for legal purposes. Such as, viz. accessing their life insuance, superannuation entitlements, registering you as the ultimate beneficiary of their will, etc, etc ad nauseum. This is why gay marriage might sound like a joke if you feel al marriages are a joke, but they are not; they are an intrinsic part of how society and families function, legally.

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  2. As if Senator Abetz ever gave a stuff about 'several millennia of tradition'.....
    And did they just infer that LGBTQ Indigenous people are not 'real Aborigines' because point 5 looks like that to me?

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  3. Great response to what I see as a frankly fraudulent attempt by this group to "represent" Aboriginal people purely to try and further their own repressive, "them vs us", agenda.

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  4. If people want to marry then they should be able to whether they be straight or otherwise.

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  5. This gives the impression that we as Aboriginal people did not have our own customs and beliefs, that the forced ideals were always there. We had many forms of marriage before invasion and we also had homosexuality here. It didn't come over in the first fleet. Some of our mobs actually acknowledged this, but of course anthropologists tried to hide this in the early days as it didn't fit into their ideals of what morality is. My other issue with this is that, I am the product of an Irish father and an Aboriginal mother, when they wanted to get married they had to ask permission, as it was illegal to have mixed marriages and it was also seen as something against God. So I think this is crap, and also as the mother of some Arrernte Children who have been raised to respect all peoples and acknowledge that love doesn't discriminate I disagree with this. I think and I hate to say it that the mission mentality is still strong.

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  6. An outstanding statement of position. Frankly, despite being a Christian and a priest, I am embarrassed by a statement that smacks of religious paternalism by some evangelical Christians, and cynical opportunism by a government that has shown little interests in any other context in Indigenous views and rights. Well said, Celeste.

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  7. The idea that our cultures were traditionally monogamous and that relationships were only between man and woman is a blatant lie. Homosexuality was for many language groups and nations a part of cultural practice, and men often had a number of wives, and had sexual relationships outside of those, as did women. This isn't my opinion, this is fact.

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  8. I find it interesting that the bark petition is explicitly rejecting biblical marriage in favour of the 20th-century "nuclear marriage". They don't talk about marriage commutating on death to the nearest male relative, for example, or the legal difference between sex slaves, concubines and wives (plural in all cases).

    Please remember that all the issues discussed so far apply to people who are de-facto married to more than one spouse. Marriage equality would reduce those problems, but same-sex marriage is not marriage equality any more than giving the vote to all adults except aborigines was universal suffrage.

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  9. I would sign the petition, but not being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, feel it would not actually help out. I will however share it, and this blog on social media.

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  10. I am so sorry to go off topic but I am not on social media and I received a petition in my emails from Amnesty International, repealing the NT's paperless arrests laws. Here is the link:- http://www.amnesty.org.au/action/action/37819/
    Thank you.

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