Marriage Equality is the New Civil Rights Movement

It’s probably been fairly obvious for a while that I am a supporter of marriage equality.  I have always viewed same-sex marriage as a cut and dry case of civil rights. I believe that marriage is a governmental institution, not one that belongs to the church. Marriage, in its many forms, pre-dates the church. And as discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in New Zealand, it is obvious to me that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is discriminatory.

I myself got married fourteen years ago, on a bright winter’s day in June. I hardly thought about marriage as a right back then. All I knew was that I was in love with a beautiful girl and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It was a case of opposites attract, and we had no idea how much work our love was going to take, but here we are all those years later, and the cliché is true. We are more in love than ever before.

For us, marriage was a right of passage, the beginning of a journey that forced us to grow up like nothing else could. Statistically speaking, marriage improves every success marker for the couple and the children that may come from that marriage. Marriage done well makes everything better – and I can vouch for this. Marriage is also the ultimate gift. There is no other commitment quite like it. Marriage is the fullest demonstration of love that can be given from one person to another. It’s an amazing, life-giving transaction and it can only build stronger families and therefore stronger communities. Why would we want to withhold this incredible gift from anyone?

After watching Selma recently I finally came to the conclusion that the current battle for marriage equality is akin to the fight for Civil Rights in the 1960’s. Marriage equality is a civil rights issue. It has similarities with the world-changing battle that Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis and many others fought (and sometimes died) for. Marriage, for the spiritual, emotional, physical and legal benefits it offers, is a civil right.

In New Zealand we have been fortunate enough to have had both civil union and same-sex marriage legalised. But until same-sex marriage was legalised couples who were joined by civil union could not avail themselves of the Matrimonial Property Act, or adopt children. In other countries where same-sex marriage has not been legalised, gay couples are significantly disadvantaged. They are withheld rights to hospital visitations, medical decision making, adoption, parenting rights and automatic inheritance, among other rights.

John Lewia on Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965

John Lewis on Pettus Bridge in 1965

You may not recognise the name John Lewis, but he was with Martin Luther King on the bridge at Selma, and is considered one of the ‘Big Six’ civil rights leaders. He is the only member now still alive. He is a Christian and has been an American Congressman for more than 25 years. If there is anyone who has the right to compare the fight for marriage equality with the civil rights movement it is him. He was there in the thick of it then, and judging by his political and religious positions he is still in the thick of it today. There is literally no one else on the face of the planet who can look at these two issues, compare them, and speak to them with as much authority as John Lewis.

As a response to President Obama’s public support of Same-Sex Marriage Congressman John Lewis said:

Once people begin to see the similarities between themselves and others, instead of focusing on differences, they come to recognize that equality is essentially a matter of human rights and human dignity.

Even as early as nine years prior to President Obama’s public statement, John Lewis was beating the drum for marriage equality. In 2003, the man who was at the front of the march with Martin Luther King wrote an article for the Boston Globe that stated:

“I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

Sometimes it takes courts to remind us of these basic principles. In 1948, when I was 8 years old, 30 states had bans on interracial marriage, courts had upheld the bans many times, and 90 percent of the public disapproved of those marriages, saying they were against the definition of marriage, against God’s law. But that year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in America to strike down such a ban. Thank goodness some court finally had the courage to say that equal means equal, and others rightly followed, including the US Supreme Court 19 years later.

Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as [human beings] do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being [human beings].

John Lewis today

John Lewis today

He couldn’t be clearer; the fear and intolerance that leads people to seek to withhold the right for same-sex couples to marry is the same as the “fear, hatred and intolerance” that Lewis and the civil rights movement faced in the 1960’s.

As a follower of Jesus I want to be in the camp that stands up and speaks out for the disenfranchised. I want to speak up for those whose voice is not always welcome, not always heard. You can throw all the bible verses you like at me, and I’ll say simply that Jesus’ commandment to love one another trumps them all.

Some people may be unaware that the work I do for elephantTV is done jointly with my wife Idoya Munn. Although I am the presenter of the episodes, behind the scenes the project is carried 50/50 between us. This is the first post in a series, and we’ve written the next one together.

As I said in my earlier post, genuine comments and healthy, constructive conversation are welcome.

Next week we’ll talk about Same-Sex Marriage

I began writing a post in March on Same-Sex Marriage and it’s relation to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I have come back to the post on several occasions only to still be here two months later. I was inspired to write it after watching the movie Selma and I think there are many parallels to be drawn between the two fights for equality. What I have decided to do is break the piece into three posts that will be uploaded next week:

  1. Marriage Equality is the new civil rights campaign
  2. It’s time to get on the bridge
  3. Don’t be a George Wallace

I intend on challenging you to get involved in advocating for the LBGTI community, a much discriminated group. Even in places like New Zealand where Same-Sex Marriage is legal, there is still a battle to be won, especially in the church. We need to make a stand for what is right.

From next Monday I’ll begin posting and aim to have all three up by the end of the week.

As an aside, I realise that some won’t like these posts, but I am actively choosing not to engage in pointless debates or arguments around my thoughts. If you disagree that’s fine, however I’m too old and tired to try to convince anyone who is ardently fixed in their position. If you do want to genuinely and openly converse about anything I have written about I welcome it, but if you want to troll me or my thoughts then I’ll leave you to do that on your own blogs and social media.

As someone who has held these beliefs for a long time I have suffered discrimination (in a very minor way) and exclusion from some Christian groups. To be honest I think I have been somewhat cowardly in not speaking up more publicly until now. I guess there has been a fear that my opinions may effect an income stream or opportunity for me somewhere in the future amongst the Christian community.

However I have decided that I am not going to worry about that any more. I am going to be myself and speak my mind as I see it. If it means I lose people or opportunities then so be it.

I look forward to engaging with you next week.

Getting Ready

Pat Brittenden:

As a family we are off to Dunedin, my wife has written a wonderful post that says it for more eloquently than I ever could…so just read her words

Originally posted on idoya munn:

image

Of all the places I’ll miss when we leave, this is the one I’ll miss the most. This is the spot I come to, walking down towards the beach and then veering left before I get there. Down to the estuary and along the stream that meets it, splashing through the shallows and then walking up the path through the bush above. At the top is a hidden playground, a surprising open space on a small promontory with a bench seat out at the point , and this view. It’s beauty doesn’t depend on the tide. When it’s out the wily mangrove roots are exposed, reaching down into the fertile mud, and the water becomes a green ribbon winding its way down from the dam. The beauty is in its wildness, in the way, if you position the camera lens just so, you can’t see the raw earth of a new…

View original 656 more words

Cyber bullying?

The team at TVNZ brought to the public attention how cyber-bullying happens to anyone who has even the smallest modicum of public presence by having some of their presenting staff read out tweets they have received or have been said about them on Twitter.

Here is that video

As a quick guide Matt McLean was called a “lying corporate whore”. Ruth Wynn-Williams was called a “c***”. Seven Sharp’s Dean Butler was told: “Don’t take this the wrong way but I really hope someone punches you.”  Helen Castles received a comment saying: “if you had babies I would want to punch them in the head.” Business presenter Nadine Chalmers-Ross was told: “you are dead boring…hot…but f****** dull”, while weatherman Sam Wallace was tweeted: “who do you think you are no one wants to see you strutting around you ruin my morning I hate you.”

I thought that maybe I’d get in on the act. Truth be told I pretty much never used twitter while I was working on air at various radio stations, but I received plenty of, shall we say, forward opinion on myself and my performance as an announcer.

Some selected statements from emails I received over the years

If Pat thinks that this is not true, or thinks he’s tough enough or righteous enough to battle the force of my indignation and the strength of conviction it has given me, then you have the address you useless dickhead -come over any time. Justice is here waiting for you, you hypocritical, overrated, wannabee.

Isn’t the show tonight a vast improvement without Pats idiotic presence.

Enough from me , but believe me , Brittenden is just not what ZB needs . He thinks he has all the answers , but unfortunately he does NOT .

It took me under 2 minutes to find out the address of your home

Would you please remove Pat Brittenden as a talk back host. He does not meet the standards required by the public and his attitude is shocking

Can you please tape Pat’s mouth for the rest of the evening, so I don’t have to hear another rubbish out of this man’s gap

You are a shocker, my 8 year old son could read the news better then You do, You read the news sort of like a rhyme the sound at the end of the sentences turned up an octave and on top of it there is a lisp and a lot of tongue around the wrong spots. Overall your program sucks, You are righteous and naive and at times sickening,

I had the misfortune to wake up briefly in the early hours and heard Pat (Pratt) Brittenden on air

At least that will highlight your stupidity.

You’re ugly brother

Know your belly was fake, but, the fat face double chin fake to??? What happened to weight watchers

PLEASE think before you open your mouth and put your foot in it in future

but I won’t really have to worry as will be listening to some other
programme!  

You obviously have no humour & the show is very boring & straight jacket style.

What an irresponsible parent you are.

You think You can fool the listeners, all You want out of it is a fat salary to support your family, there is no passion there – people can feel that- learn to deal with critics and don’t be insulting to your listeners, then maybe You’ve got a chance to better yourself

And although I wasn’t a big user of Twitter at the time, we did give listeners to connect with us via text. Here are some of the more colourful ones of those (spelling, grammar etc…hasn’t been corrected)

Please dont let that screaming lefty liberal pat come on.

You should quit talk back before someone comes up to radio works and smashes the Shit out of ya. You fucken wanker.

Hi pat i will tell you about you you are a know it all jumped up turd j

Sorry pat,please find alternative employment,u r not at all popular and regarded by most listenrs as a nieve sub-intelligenced geek.Try burger fliping at McD’s.

Pat your program is ‘shit’ we dont need 2 hear same thing repeatly!!

U fat FAGGOT BRITTENDEN.Ya all false.C u at Maungawhai.

yor so fuking thik u stupid cunt

Ur a fukn idiot how is a labour supporter automaticaly a peters supporter, no wonder u get th shit shifts

U twat, we all like childrens stories dont we! Yr not at school now. U r crap

Pc pat u SO TOTALLY SUCK .Pull your head in its talkback if we wanted music,we would be listening tn another station.Yeh yeh yeh U suk rsoul

There u go again i i me me ur such a bore no wonder the 0ratings are goin down u wont be there mch longer i hve on good authorty..

Hi pat, its maree from tawa here. I warned u not 2 upset me. U arshole. Please dont mes me about.

For me personally I don’t feel bullied, this kind of thing never bothered me, still doesn’t. I had instances where there were TradeMe treads talking about me and I remember one guys saying on one of them that I must have had the thickest skin in the world…when it comes to anonymous morons having a crack I do because I don’t really care what strangers think about me.

So I put some of these up in solidarity with my TVNZ brothers and sisters and to all those who think just because someone is in a job where you see or hear them in your home, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to have a crack whenever and where ever you want.

I  hope, if nothing else, at least you had a little smile at the spelling mistakes in the texts above ;)

 

Stand up NZ. Waitangi Day is your day!

To be honest, I cannot be bothered with people telling me that Waitangi Day is a day for Maori or a ‘waste of a day’ or anything else. Waitangi Day is our national day and you are the only person who can own it as such. The one group of people that piss me off more than any around Waitangi Day is the ones who choose not to celebrate it and blame Maori, or protests, or arguments or any other reason for them opting out.

I am sick of you.

If you love NZ, and consider yourself a NZer then you will celebrate Waitangi Day, our national day tomorrow, and if you find a reason not to, it you blame anyone else for taking away that sense of you and your national day, then I pity you.

‘Nuf said, here is a press release we worked on a couple of years ago that pretty much sums it up for me. Get a set of balls NZ and choose to celebrate your day.

Waitangi Day, a day for all Kiwi’s to celebrate

with a BBQ and a cold beer.

Self described Average-Joe Pat Brittenden is calling all New Zealanders to own their own national day and celebrate Waitangi Day with a good old Kiwi barbie. With the help of a Facebook page accessed via www.waitangiday.org.nz Pat is spreading his message of unity and railing against the apathy of so many New Zealanders towards Waitangi Day.

The Facebook page “Waitangi Day BBQ” challenges New Zealanders to ignore the bad press that seems to take over the headlines around Waitangi Day and celebrate the day as a day for all of us to come together and celebrate being kiwis.

Brittenden says it’s sad that a generation of people have settled for a sub-par national day, and that it has become no more or less special than any other day of the year.

“When people go to waitangiday.org.nz and ‘LIKE’ the page, it’s a way of saying ‘Yes, I’m going to own and to celebrate our national holiday!’” says Brittenden, “I want to challenge people who don’t usually do anything on February the 6th to do something. It could be a BBQ, a picnic, or a fishing trip, but the point is to do something positive to mark the day.”

Pat’s http://www.waitangiday.org.nz initiative has cross-party support with most political parties in the house.

These are some of the messages of support.

  • National Party: “It’s a day to celebrate the unique and ambitious treaty signed by our forebears in 1840, and the growing unity between Maori and other New Zealanders in our communities.” – The Right Honourable John Key – Prime Minister.
  • Labour Party: “…it is a day for all Kiwis to come together and celebrate a country that has much to offer its people.” – The Honourable Phil Goff – Leader of the Opposition.
  • Maori Party: “We all value our own histories and traditions, and with mutual recognition and respect, co-operation, and the utmost good faith, we have unity in our diversity. So gather round the barbie, and give thanks for what our ancestors have given us.” – The Honourable Dr. Pita Sharples – Minister of Maori Affairs

These statements in full and also statements of support from the Honourable Jim Anderton and the Honourable Peter Dunne – Minister of Revenue can be found on www.averagejoe.co.nz

Facebook users who have liked the page have also said things like…

  • “This is the most sensible Idea”
  • “Hey Pat. One thing I’ve noticed in north America is how they celebrate their national days. Both Canada day here, and 4th of July south of the border are huge! It be awesome to see kiwis being a bit more patriotic and coming together to celebrate our national day!
  • “Luv it, United we stand divided we fall and if our backs should be against the wall we’ll be together you and I.. Make it a good day, spread happiness.”

Pat Brittenden wants New Zealanders to take their national day and own it, to make it a day of celebration for all Kiwis to come together around a BBQ and be thankful for this great country we live in.

A delightful Pixar Short – La Luna

Recorded a short film off Sky Movies last week and just got to watch it with the kids. It is one of the most delightful short films I have seen in a long time, subsequent research then taught me that it was nominated for an Oscar at the 2012 Academy Awards. Rightfully so…enjoy!

A new yardstick please?

Okay so there have been several times and several posts when I have answered questions about my ‘christianity’ and how some in the church question my thoughts or opinions or acceptance of certain things that perhaps they question. The other conversation that I (and I think we all) come up against is those outside the church world looking in and making sweeping statements about what a Christian is.

According to the book unChristian, which is a research document where 16-29 year olds were asked their thoughts on many issues inside the church, 85%-95% of this group thinks that the words ‘homophobic’, ‘judgemental’ and ‘hypocrite’ can be interchanged with the word ‘Christian’. So if you class yourself as a ‘Christian’ then nine in ten Gen Y-ers think that you are a homophobic, judgemental hypocrite and I have to say the Church hasn’t done much to disprove those accusations in the last 60 years…in fact in the last 1,000 years to be honest.

So when I see the Chaplin for the Senate of the United States of America offering this prayer to Senators I wonder if it is time for a new yardstick both for those inside the church and outside.

The words of Chaplain Barry C. Black are as follows

Let us pray

Have mercy upon us oh God

And save us from the madness

We acknowledge our transgressions

Our shortcomings

Our smugness

Our selfishness

And our pride

Create in us clean hearts oh God

And renew a right spirit within us

Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable, while being unreasonable

Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this Government shut down

Transforming negatives in positives

As you work for the good of those who love you

We pray in Your merciful name

Amen

I only hope his prayer was to a full Senate chamber.

So from now on people inside the church, or people of faith, AND people outside the church, how about we use these idea as our yardstick for what a ‘Christian is supposed to be’ as I am happy to stand alongside these biblically based ideas.

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