Today is my birthday…

Screenshot 2016-06-17 11.51.10

So today is my birthday. Thank you Google for recognizing this today with my personalized search graphic.

On this day, forty-eight years ago in Australia I was born. I was a winter baby, born in the month of June in the southern hemisphere (I’ve discovered I prefer having summer birthdays!). I love celebrating my birthday; getting older has never been an issue with me. Sure there have been a few that I’ve been more apprehensive about than others (my 25th birthday comes to mind), but I’ve always appreciated that actually having the opportunity to celebrate a birthday is better than the alternative.

This year will be another difficult year for me. Not because of my birthday, but because of so many that will no longer celebrate their birthdays because of the actions of gun wielding lunatics. Today, I’m reminded that the joy of responding to my friends on Facebook, texts and emails will not be something that 75 people who were murdered in a mass shooting this month alone, will never have the opportunity to do again. Families no longer celebrating with their husbands, wives, sons, daughters; friends no longer being able to celebrate at a restaurant, home, or at a bar.

So this year, as I hope I will remember every year, I will continue to celebrate my birthday, but I will remember those that were taken from us last Sunday morning in Orlando; those taken from us in Charlotte last year (on this same day); those taken from us in Sandy Hook in 2012; those taken from us in Columbine in 1999; and those taken from us everyday in a mass shooting (75 people so far this month alone; 288 this year).

To my family and friends, thank you for your kind words and greetings. As always, they are much appreciated, and I love you for thinking of me for that moment.

More tragedy and lives lost

CkwqF4EW0AAQe7lI am just nauseous with the news this morning that a man took it upon himself, in the name of his god to murder 50 members of the LGBTQ community, and injure 53 others in Orlando earlier today. It doesn’t matter if this is a hate crime, an act of terrorism or just the workings of a seriously troubled person, the reality is that 50 families (and most likely some more) will not have their husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, partner or friend in their lives any longer. Gone. Just like that.
It sickens me that there will be some who justify this action through their misguided beliefs – in their god, in their version of the Constitution, or in their hatred of the LGBTQ community.
No amount of words will bring back those family members. They are gone, forever. What is troubling to me is that there are words filled with hate, filled with ignorance and filled with some form of justification in their beliefs that will contribute to more deaths and injuries. For politicians – wanna be politicians – preachers and community leaders, your words matter, your words hurt, your words incite this kind of violence. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for fueling the hatred that drives people to take these kind of monstrous actions. YOU are to blame.
Yes, I’m angry. And if you are not, what kind of human being are you?

We All Should Value Privacy

Especially in the bathroom!

Caroline Cossey – former Bond Girl and Playboy Model

This is Caroline Cossey, a transgender woman who is a former Bond Girl and posed for Playboy in the 90’s. Frisco has two candidate’s in the runoff election (early voting starts June 6, election day is June 18) that want people like Caroline to be forced to use the male restrooms in our city and state. Caroline was born male and under laws being promoted by our state leaders to “protect children” (based on the North Carolina law), she would be required to use the male restroom.

This is what Terri Green and Cindy Asche (see update below) want for Frisco.

Privacy is incredibly important, but so is safety. Our city should be a safe place for everyone, without exception. If Caroline was forced to use a male restroom (as Terri and Cindy insist should be the case) to use a stall, she would most likely be arrested or assaulted. How is that protecting the privacy and safety of people in our community?

Aydian Dowling – Fitness Model

And then there is Aydian Dowling, a transgender man who recently was featured in Men’s Health. Aydian was born female and if Terri or Cindy have anything to do with the best interest of our city, they would require Aydian to use the female restroom. If someone like Aydian was to walk into a female restroom (because they were required to), there is no doubt that Aydian would be putting himself into a very hostile environment – through no fault of his own. There is no doubt in my mind that he would be assaulted, or worse!

Ask yourself if this makes sense. Ask yourself if this is the type of city you want Frisco to be known for? Rockwall City Council recently tried to change their laws to follow the North Carolina law, but it failed as their Mayor was not able to get a second for his motion. It’s an issue here in Frisco under the umbrella term “quality of life” (and being promoted by groups like the Frisco Tea Party). If Terri Green and Cindy Asche are elected, this is practically guaranteed to be placed on the Council agenda for consideration.

Shouldn’t our candidates and city council be focusing on more important issues? Frisco can do better and must.

Update (6/2/2016): Cindy Asche has stated that she does not believe this to be a local issue, and has not taken a position on this. I have sought feedback from her – as I have with other candidates – on whether she would support or oppose bathroom restrictions for transgender individuals. She has yet to reply.
Update (6/7/2016): Still no reply from Cindy on my request for clarification.

Vote on Marriage Equality

The issue of marriage equality in Australia remains a hot topic. Today, in support of a free vote, I’ve sent the following letter to my local member and each of the Senators for Victoria.

I am writing to you to urge you to support a free vote on marriage equality in Parliament as soon as possible, and to oppose a costly, divisive and unnecessary plebiscite.

In the past week, respected accounting and professional services company, PridewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), issued a report showing a plebiscite will cost Australia’s economy approximately $525 million. Of this, PwC indicated that just over $200 million will be the direct costs of holding the vote.

Even if a plebiscite is held and paid for by the Australian taxpayer, the Australian Parliament will still need to vote on the issue regardless of the outcome. The plebiscite is not binding on any politician, and they can choose to ignore the result of a plebiscite, and several parliamentary leaders have already said the result of the plebiscite will not affect they ultimately will vote.

Ultimately, my reasons for seeking your support to fulfill your Constitutional obligation are personal.

I am Australian citizen residing in the United States of America with my husband (an American citizen). We married on March 5, 2013 on our 14th anniversary of being a couple. This year we celebrated our 17th year together (3 of those as a married couple). We chose to marry in Canada due to their progressive laws relating to same-sex marriage. Since the decision of the United States Supreme Court in June 2013, and the impact that this decision had on same-sex marriage across the USA, I am now a Permanent Resident (“Green Card”) based on my marriage.

Living in the United States, I have not only studied the impact that popular votes on social issues can have on a state and country, but I have been impacted by these since moving here. In November 2005, voters in the the State of Texas approved a Constitutional Amendment to write discrimination into their governing document, by defining marriage as between a man and a woman (similar to the legislative actions of the Australian Parliament under the Howard Government). This impacted me directly as this precluded my husband from providing support for health insurance, it limited my access to my husband if he were to be in hospital and penalized us in the areas of taxation and superannuation. Even though the United States Supreme Court has made its rulings in relation to same-sex marriage (or marriage equality), this discriminating language remains in the Texas Constitution.

The Australian Constitution does not hold any such language, and section 51 (xxi) of the Constitution of Australia prescribes that marriage is a legislative power given to the Commonwealth Parliament. The federal parliament enacted legislation under this authority to regulate marriage (Marriage Act 1961), and subsequently amended that legislation to limit marriage to between one man and one woman. I’ll remind you that no plebiscite or referendum was conducted to limit the definition of marriage under the Howard Government.

While some attempts to circumvent this Constitutionally mandated power, the High Court of Australia reiterated the federal parliament’s authority in December 2013, when it ruled:

“The status of marriage, the social institution which that status reflects, and the rights and obligations which attach to that status never have been, and are not now, immutable. Section 51(xxi) is not to be construed as conferring legislative power on the federal Parliament with respect only to the status of marriage, the institution reflected in that status, or the rights and obligations attached to it, as they stood at federation.”

As mentioned above, no plebiscite was conducted when the Howard Government amended the Marriage Act in 2004 to define marriage as “exclusive union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.” Given that the Commonwealth has already acknowledged that they have the authority to enact legislation relating to marriage, it can only be seen as a tactic to delay efforts to amend the Marriage Act to recognize same-sex marriages.

I would argue that putting a social justice issue to a popular vote can (and will) have a very negative effect and impact on a society (as can be seen by actions of other countries around the globe). The Australian Psychology Society is opposed to the plebiscite due to the negative impact it will have on same-sex attracted individuals, including youth. Many others, including faith leaders, are also opposed to holding a plebiscite for similar reasons. Even many elected members of the Australian Parliament are opposed to the plebiscite. It is an archaic method to publicly diminish the value of individuals in Australia, as the rhetoric that will evolve during any debate will have a lasting impact regardless of the result.

If a plebiscite is to be held, then it should be held at the same time as the next federal election. This way voters can express their views not only on this divisive issue, but reward (or punish) the members of the Australian Parliament that have resulted in this wasteful action.

As an Australian I am ashamed that my country has fallen behind so dramatically on this one issue. Australia remains one of a small number of developed nations that still does not offer this basic human right to all its citizens. Where Australia has been very progressive in the past with laws that include same-sex couples, I now have the dilemma that when my husband and I travelled home for holidays this would change. My fear is real given the recent reports of David Bulmer-Rizzi’s recent death while on his honeymoon with his husband, Marco in South Australia. What an embarrassment for my country!

Finally, and more importantly, I do not accept that as a married Australian I should be considered a second-class citizen by my government. That is simply not Australian, and it is most definitely not something that I, or any other Australian, deserve. We deserve better from our elected representatives.

Please, put an end to this wasteful plebiscite. I urge you to support a free vote on marriage equality in Parliament as soon as possible, and to oppose a costly, divisive and unnecessary plebiscite. Pass marriage equality now!

James Nunn

P.S. For the purposes of Australian documents, I use my mother’s residence in Seymour, Victoria.

Happy Anniversary Sweetie!

Happy anniversary to my amazing husband, Chris Moss. March 5, 1999 I moved here without really knowing where life would lead me. That date became the date that we established our lives together. Over the years, we have had an incredible journey, and I’m so thankful that three years ago we were married, and started a new chapter in our lives. So today we will celebrate 17 years together and our 3rd wedding anniversary. I love him more than I could ever have imagined. He is my soul mate, my best friend, my husband and my world. Happy anniversary sweet man!

17th Anniversary