This is terribly sad news. Axel Axgil has died, aged 96 – after a lifetime of service to equality. Axel set up the world’s first national gay rights organisation in 1948 in Denmark - years before we had magazines like One, networks like Daughters of Bilitis or anyone had heard of Stonewall.
Axel and a small groups of others were fundamental to the implementation of civil partnerships in 1989 in Denmark and he was the first of the first at the first same sex wedding on Oct. 1, 1989, when he and his partner Eigil were among 11 couples to exchange vows. I interviewed the second couple, Ove Carlsen and Ivan Carlsen, in 2009 and they both spoke very highly of Axel.
It’s been a big month in Australia – I am just sorry my day has left this blog mostly silent (though I do have a chapter in the new Australian book “Speak Now”!)
The latest news includes, a departing State Premier (South Australia’s Mike Rann backing equality), the Acting Premier of Queensland (basically our Texas) backing federal marriage equality and proposing a state civil union scheme in the meantime, and the national President of the ruling Labor Party saying she also backs equality.
None of this means it’s more likely to happen in the national Parliament this year – but all the momentum is positive. Keep reading for more details Continue reading →
If you were surprised that David Cameron, conservative British Prime Minister, has decided to “emphatically support” full gay marriage being introduced in Britain by 2015, you have the facts both for you and against you.
In many ways, Cameron’s conversion is the conversion of millions who have been exposed to the arguments and to gay friends and colleagues over a prolonged period. The change is also special given how far his party has come – putting it well ahead of parties like the centre-left Australian Labor Party, for example.
You can read a detailed account of the Conservative troubled history with gay rights, gay people, and homophobia in “Tory Pride and Prejudice” by Michael McManus.
Well, well, this is a positive development. The United States’ Public Religion Research Institute today released “Generations at Odds: The Millennial Generation and the Future of Gay and Lesbian Rights,” a report into what todays teens and 20-somethings in the US think about us.
62% of American youth favor marriage equality, including 49% of those identifying as Republican and 44% of those who think of themselves as Evangelical. In the last category that means the youth are four times more to support equality than senior Evangelicals.
This is what they call a snowball effect, ladies and gentlemen.
(Interestingly more Catholics think the Church’s approach to gays is too extreme than think it is “about right.”)
Rodney Croome has penned some very useful observations on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website.
Croome shows why the recent consultation MPs ran on gay marriage will have a positive effect in the medium and long term. And most importantly he shows why we shouldn’t fall into the default view that the campaign has suffered a setback just because most MPs continued to stick to the party lines against equality.
* It prompted thousands of those who were indifferent to think about their position.
* This kind of constructive debate inevitably changes hearts and minds for the better.
A good example of the slowly rising tide is the member for Ballarat, Catherine King, who told the ABC, “I am on the public recorded of supporting the current definition of marriage but I have to say that view has been fundamentally challenged by the representations of same-sex couples”.
Exciting news about “Speak Now” a new Australian book on gay marriage that I have written a chapter for … it’s going to hit the bookstands and your e-readers in October 2011.
Australian activists such as Andrew Barr, Evelyn Gray and Rodney Croome, who have written for The Gay Marriage Blog are also contributing chapters amongst a stellar cast of 30 or so writers. This should make a great impact as debate around the Australian Labor Party conference heats up.
For the first time more lesbians than gays are marrying in Belgium, according to very interesting and detailed gay marraige statistics released in Belgium today by the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and published in French in Le Soir.
So far more than 17,000 gays and lesbians have married since 2003, with numbers reasonably steady at about 2,000 per year. Not bad for a small country of 10 million.
But the really interesting figures are the regional and gender breakdowns.
As many same sex couples married in the Flemish city of Antwerp (population 450,000) in 2010, as in the whole of Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium (population 3.5 million). Even more than a highly international city like Brussels, the people of Flanders are addicted to same sex marriage. With only four times the population Flanders was responsible for eight times as many same sex marriages as the Brussels region. (768 to 92 in 2010!)
Regarding the rise of the women, it is suggested that this is to make parenting arrangements easier to complete (including adoption not just insemination). Indeed, it is a little known fact that lesbians flock to Belgium for IVF treatment and adoption options, especially catering to French women in some instances).
Divorce is also on the rise for both gay and lesbian couples, but the study’s author says it is too early to give a meaningful comparison between homosexual and heterosexual divorce rates in Belgium. Seven years after the start of equality, about 8% of same sex couples have divorced.
The prediction of the author, David Paternotte, who is also looking at gay marrriages of people in France and Spain is clear “there is without doubt a snowball effect both in terms of rights affirmed by government and by jurisprudence (the courts)”
In an Australian first, marriage equality advocates have met Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to put their case for reform.
Attending the meeting were former Australian Medical Association President, Kerryn Phelps and her wife, Jackie Stricker-Phelps, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson, Shelley Argent, Australian Marriage Equality (AME) campaign director, Rodney Croome, and same-sex mental health specialist, Paul Martin.
Professor Phelps and Mrs Stricker-Phelps said they told the Prime Minister about the pain of not having their overseas marriage recognised in Australia and gave her letters written by their children about the need for equality. Professor Phelps said, “I am very pleased we have opened a dialogue with the Prime Minister and hope to continue to talk to her about this issue”. Mr Croome emphasised the importance of marriage equality as a way of promoting inclusion and participation in family life and told the Prime Minister she has a historic opportunity to make Australian a more just and equitable nation. “In response to reports that the Labor Party may adopt a conscience vote on marriage equality before the National Conference has a chance to deal with the issue in December, the Prime Minister gave us an assurance there will be a debate on marriage equality at the National Conference”, Mr Croome said. Mr Martin spoke to the Prime Minister about the link between mental health, internalised homophobia and the inability to marry. “I felt Ms Gillard listened respectfully and seemed to take on board what I was saying. She accepted information about marriage equality and mental health from a recent statement by the American Psychological Association.”
Said Argent: “I felt Ms Gillard listened … meeting gave me hope that if the (ALP) National Conference is positive on this issue she won’t stand in the way of marriage equality being presented to Parliament.”