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Embattled Australian Speaker Peter Slipper Steps Down

PeterSlipperYesterday, i linked to this PinkNews article about Australian House Speaker Peter Slipper, who's become ensnared in what most media outlets are calling a "gay sex scandal," though nobody claims any actual sex was involved. CapitalFM News ably sums up the accusations:

Weekend reports alleged Peter Slipper harassed former staffer James Ashby, including telling him to shower with the door open when he stayed at his home, and “moaning” in a sexual manner after asking him for a massage.

The married Slipper, 62, was also accused of misusing taxpayer-funded taxi services.

The ABC said 33-year-old Ashby, who is openly gay, had launched legal action under the Fair Work Act detailing alleged explicit text messages, unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate comments towards him.

Separate reports said he was seeking compensation in the Federal Court as well as orders for his former employer to undergo counselling and anti-discrimination training.

Just to be clear, the person to whom Slipper is married is a woman.

The Slipper scandal broke in the newsmedia on Friday as Slipper wrapped up a trip to America. Upon his return to Australia on Sunday, he issued a statement in which he denied all allegations, but agreed to temporarily step aside as Speaker. Capital FM quotes Slipper's statement:

“The allegation is incorrect and once it is clear they are untrue I shall return to the speakership. In relation to the civil matter, there will be an appropriate process that will resolve the matter in due course.”

The situation for Slipper gets grimmer. Slipper's not only a professional politician and family-man; he's a priest in the Traditional Anglican Communion. Now his alleged friend, the Archbishop John Hepworth, is asking him to step down from that position as well. From The Australian:

"It is right for anyone accused of serious misconduct in public life, whether in church life or political life, to stand aside until the processes of justice reach a conclusion," Archbishop Hepworth said.

"Ministers of the crown and cardinals of the church have followed this sound principle in recent years in Australia; otherwise, the integrity of our core institutions is eroded, and our expectations of public morality further decay.

"As Peter Slipper's archbishop, I applaud his decision to stand aside as Speaker, and am seeking a similar decision in relation to his public functions in the church."

Slipper's stepping down from the Speakership has already cost Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Labor Party their one-vote majority in the House of Representatives. Opposition leader (and enemy of LGBT rights) Tony Abbot is surely thrilled, but is affecting outrage, as he must.


Gay Couples Dine with Australian PM Julia Gillard, Lobby Her on Marriage Equality: VIDEO

Ozdinner

Earlier this week I reported that three gay couples dined with Austrlian PM Julia Gillard after the activist group GetUp! paid 31,000 Australian dollars ($33,270) after winning a bidding war against a Christian lobby group at the Press Gallery of Australia annual charity ball.

Here's GetUp's video featuring news reports and some footage from the event.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Couples Dine with Australian PM Julia Gillard, Lobby Her on Marriage Equality: VIDEO" »


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard Hosts Gay Couples at Dinner

Couples

In June last year, the activist group GetUp! paid 31,000 Australian dollars ($33,270) for a dinner with Prime Minister Julia Gillard after winning a bidding war against a Christian lobby group at the Press Gallery of Australia annual charity ball.

GillardThe group's intention was to send three gay couples to dinner to discuss the need for marriage equality in Australia, and that happened last night.

The AP reports:

Twelve-year-old Matthew Miller presented Gillard with flowers and two letters explaining why he and his brother Dylan, 9, would like their biological mother Sandy Miller to marry their other mother, Louise Bucke.

"Since they're not allowed to get married, they're basically being called not normal and we're not known as a proper family," Matthew told The Associated Press at Parliament House before the dinner, which the boys did not attend.

Along with Miller and Bucke, other guests were Brisbane academic Sharon Dane, 54, who married Elaine Crump, 53, in Canada in a ceremony that is not recognized in Australia.

Steve Russell, 51, and John Dini, 29, decided against marrying overseas because it would carry no weight in Australia. While they could have a civil union recognized under state law in their hometown of Melbourne, they don't regard that as equal to marriage.

Gillard is personally opposed to same-sex marriage. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, she told the couples "she believes laws allowing them to marry in Australia are inevitable."


Australian Labor (Kind Of) Supports Marriage Equality

Gillard2In Australia this morning (which, to folks in America, was actually early yesterday afternoon), at the Labor Party's tri-annual national conference, the Party officially added marriage equality to its platform. Whether that will make any difference to marriage equality's Australian prospects is debatable.

Labor is Australia's ruling party, just barely, and is headed by an arch Jodie Foster lookalike named Julia Gillard. Gillard's an ardent secularist, but, like several others in her party, she doesn't much care for same-sex marriage. "Opposite"-sex marriage, Gillard believes, has a "special status" that ought to be recognized by the civil apparatus. Speaking to the AP, conference attendee and Australian union leader named Joe de Bruyn explained why he agrees with her:

"This issue is one we should decide with our heads, not on the basis of emotion," said Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, one of the country's largest unions. "The definition of marriage as set out in the legislation is that it is the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life. It has always been that way since the dawn of humanity."

De Bruyn ought to brush up on his history, but no matter: Sentiments like his caused Julia Gillard to propose an amendment to make matters of marriage equality subject to a "conscience vote" -- which is to say, Labor legislators shall be free to vote on issues of marriage equality according to their consciences, and shall not be forced to toe the pro-equality party line. Gillard's amendment passed, as did the platform change, the former rendering the latter all but toothless.


Australian PM Won't Eat With Gay Auction Winners

JuliaGillard
Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, doesn't like the idea of gay marriage. Nor is she very fond of awkward dinners.

Too bad for her. In June, the liberal Australian advocacy group GetUp! won an "intimate dinner" with Ms. Gillard at a charity auction. Their bid: $31,000, AUS. Their plan: Send same-sex couples to sup with Ms. Gillard and talk about marriage equality. The result: Ms. Gillard has so far refused to set a date for their meeting.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP, as Australia's ABC News catches up with Ms. Gillard's jilted would-be dinner companions.

Continue reading "Australian PM Won't Eat With Gay Auction Winners" »


Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong to Have Child with Partner, Stoke Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Wong

Australian finance minister Penny Wong and her partner Sophie Allouache are expecting a baby, through in vitro fertilization, Wong said in a statement:

"Like any expecting parents, the prospect of welcoming this child into our lives fills us both with joy," she said. "We are extremely grateful to our IVF service and staff, and to our donor, for giving us the opportunity to raise a child together."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard welcomed the news."I'm very pleased for Penny and her partner Sophie as they look forward to a new baby and the next phase of their lives," she told reporters in Canberra.

Gillard The implications for Australia's upcoming debate on marriage equality are obvious:

Senator Wong, one of the most senior ministers in the Gillard Government, is the first openly gay minister in federal politics. She is expected to play a pivotal role in the burgeoning debate over same sex marriage due to be discussed at the ALP's supreme policy making body the National Conference late this year."

Added Gillard, who believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, to reporters: "Clearly there are strong views about same-sex marriage in the community. There are strong views in the political party I lead, and we'll have a debate at national conference about those strongly held views. I've made my views clear."

You may recall that Wong, who was once under fire from the LGBT community for opposing same-sex marriage, came out in full support of it in November 2010.

Watch a report from 10 Australia, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong to Have Child with Partner, Stoke Same-Sex Marriage Debate" »


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