I was pretty disappointed the other day to read the new Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, was not pushing ahead to make life more easy for gays and lesbians. In fact, the first sentence of the article at 365gay.com the other day was "For Australian gays the more things change the more they stay the same." It stated that Prime Minister Rudd isn’t that much different from the last Prime Minister, John Howard in terms of gay rights. I was also shocked that he might try and block the Australian Capital Territory from allowing civil unions. He seems to be upset that they would have the audacity to want a ceremony to celebrate their civil union! I have a feeling I am missing something here. How could that be enough for the federal government to step in and block civil unions in the territory, just like John Howard did?
However, today I see there is a bit of good news. It appears that gay and lesbian Australians are starting to complain about this new Prime Minister and all the hopes he is carrying for gays and lesbians. 365gay.com is reporting today that the federal government is going to "amend about 100 laws to provide benefits to same-sex couples, but said it would not consider either gay marriage or civil unions." So what will change?
The changes also will guarantee partners the right to visit each other in hospital and make medical decisions. The revised laws will also recognize gay couples at senior citizen and nursing homes
It is hard to believe that in Australia, a country I absolutely love and will live in again, has such draconian laws that there were no rights for couples to see each other in the hospital or to make medical decisions. Luckily this will change. I’ve said this before, but when Doug was taken to the hospital after his bike ride, I was a bit worried that Stanford Hospital would not let me see him. But the emergency room nurse didn’t even blink when I told her I was his partner. It is a good thing too–I am usually a fairly calm person, but I don’t know if I could control myself if they wouldn’t have let me see him. It is frustrating just to think about it, and enraging to think that there are still some states in this country where I would not be able to see Doug in the hospital or make medical decisions on his behalf. We have Power of Attorney over each other and have wills, but I don’t know if that is enough. Of course in California we are registered domestic partners and have very similar rights to straight married couples, although not equal. Talk about separate but nearly equal…
Anyway, maybe Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will see the light and realize how ridiculous he looks if all he is upset about is a ceremony! Jeez, Australia is not a dictator state. He has no business in regulating what or how people celebrate. I hope that he wakes up. He needs to realize that people are genuinely happy he is the new Prime Minister and that he is supposed to be different from John Howard.
These anti-gay laws need to change. I remember when Doug was working for Novell in Sydney. He went to a presentation given by a company called Plum that was running his retirement account. The man giving the talk told everyone in the audience that Plum did not recognize gay partners and that no one could put the name of their partner down on the beneficiary notice. If they did, and if something happened, then Plum would make the decision as to who the beneficiary would be! And to make it worse, just after he said that, a woman asked if she could put her boyfriend down as the beneficiary. The answer–of course she could! I told Doug he should have left and knocked some chairs over on his way out. He would never do that, and I probably wouldn’t do that either. But what we did do was take the money out of Plum and transfer it to Virgin Retirement, which recognized gay partners. We lost a bit of money transferring it out, but I was so happy to know that all of the fees and taxes that Plum would have been collecting would be stopped.