Home' LOTL : July 2004 Contents Mark, it's time to say sorry. Not just once, but three times.
The first of these is not of a public nature, and it doesn't
even matter if it's on letterhead, over the phone or in person,
though face-to-face would be nice. This apology is due to a
little girl who proudly showed her family on national television,
only to be told by you that her family is something shameful.
That's just not true, and I think in your heart you know that. But
you're an important man who may one day be Prime Minister,
and she's a little girl. You should be big enough to utter those
words that we conscientious parents teach our children to say
every day in playgrounds around Australia when they let
rampant self-interest triumph over fairness and respect.
You need to tell Brenna that when you made that off-the-
cuff remark about lesbian families that you weren't thinking
straight and that you made a mistake.
Now it's a different calibre of apology that you owe to
Vicki Harding and Jackie Braw. What was it you said?
Something about how you'd like to explain that stuff yourself,
rather than leave it to the public broadcaster.
Well, I understand the sentiment. Being a parent, I am
often over whelmed with a deluge of images from which I
scrabble to protect my daughter. Mindless violence is chief
among these. Those pictures from Iraq. Cartoons like
Roadrunner. A whole lot of stuff on MTV. Anything that
shows inhumanity, hate, physical abuse. I don't want to have
to explain the inexplicable to a child who cried inconsolably at
a picture in Vanity Fair of Jackie Kennedy falling off a horse.
I fear the age when I'll have to explain the Holocaust and
Understanding the sentiment makes its application more
unforgivable. A happy, well-adjusted family, or love between
two grown people requires the serious parental chat? It is
grotesque to imply that there is anything about being cared
for by two loving mothers from which a child needs to be
shielded, and it is disgracefully insulting to Vicki and Jackie.
OUR POLLIES HAVE SOME APOLOGIES TO
MAKE -- ESPECIALLY TO LESBIAN PARENTS,
SAYS BRIDGET HAIRE.
VICKI HARDING AND DAUGHTER BRENNA
One of the ugliest things about your reaction, Mark, is
that you were evidently poorly briefed. But rather than
thinking before responding, or insisting on more information,
your knee jerk response was to insult the family in question, and
by implication, cast a negative light over all our lesbian families.
Clearly, as members of the community, we are less
important than that machine known as 'the electorate' whose
blind prejudices must be pandered to (isn't that what Kim
tried to do with The Tampa and he still didn't succeed?) I feel
for the lesbian mothers who are very visible ALP campaigners
in my local area.
"My mums", the phrase that Brenna used on the
Playschool segment, was a perfect way of saying that a whole
range of families exist and television should foster acceptance
of diversity, not reflect an increasingly archaic stereotype of
the nuclear family unit.
In the playground we rub shoulders with all sorts of people.
Some of my daughter's playmates have parents who are ultra-
conser vative Christians. Some are of the orthodox Jewish sect
that ordains the complete covering of women including the
hair (though I have noted with approval that this does not
preclude breastfeeding in public -- bravo for recognising that
breastfeeding is about food, not sex or enticement).
The third apology you need to make is to lesbian parents
generally. We are everywhere, in big cities and rural havens,
losing sleep, reading stories, playing with trucks and with
dolls, cooking nutritious meals and worrying about the
planet, like good parents all around the world. It's bloody
hard work, but it's a labour of love. We deser ve to be treated
with respect and what's more we demand it.
You need to say sorry to us, Mark, loud and clear.
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