By Mike Welsh


THE “Yes” result in the SSM postal survey, repeatedly described by PM Malcolm Turnbull as a “hugely historic moment”, has transformed a common roundabout in a former used-car precinct of Canberra into a major intersection of social change.

The rainbow roundabout at Lonsdale and Elouera Streets, Braddon – the hipster HQ of Australia’s gayest city – is a marketer’s dream. Poets and minstrels won’t flock to Braddon as they did to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in the ’60s, but the pink dollar will certainly flow into the tills of local traders.


IT would seem a healthy cynicism still exists when it comes to pledges by politicians. Despite the emphatic “Yes” vote in the SSM postal survey, the widely praised “Yes” campaign conducted by Canberra Airport has been significantly ramped up. Just in case they’ve already forgotten, an electronic billboard at the entrance to the airport has a strong reminder: “WE SAID YES TO EQUALITY. Politicians get it done”.

The same sex discussion will be here to stay, regardless of the result


By Mike Jeffreys

“Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon.” Is an oft-repeated phrase I’ve heard on radio regarding the marriage equality debate.

Trust me, it won’t.

But why take my word for that? Here’s what Simon Copland from Green Agenda had to say in 2015: “For more than a decade now, marriage equality has dominated the energies of gay and lesbian campaigners. So when we achieve it, we can all celebrate and relax, right? Not a chance.”

It’s been argued with justification over the years same-sex couples have not been entitled to the same legal rights as the heteros.

But, that has not been the case for some time now. Click on and you will see “the NSW Relationships Register provides legal recognition for de facto couples, regardless of their sex.”

Here’s Mr Copland again: “It is true that marriage has become an extremely important symbol and its passage would be seen by many as a significant milestone in indicating the willingness of the state to treat gay and lesbian people equally. Yet, unfortunately, it is little more than a symbol. In Australia marriage equality actually, has few practical impacts.”


A quick look on the Internets will confirm the issue has been around for a while now. Even back to Roman times: “…in the early Imperial period some male couples were celebrating traditional marriage rites in the presence of friends. Male-male weddings are reported by sources that mock them.”

Australians are known for mocking.

Attorney General George Brandis is busy passing laws to make sure everyone conforms to his view of civilised debate, but that may be easier said than done. Gillian Triggs, when she was president of the Human Rights Commission, lamented: “Sadly you can say (outside) what you like around the kitchen table at home.”

If Steve and Kev announce at a mixed dinner party that they are now married, and a non-believer rolls his eyes and says “Of course you are”, will the hostess be obliged to call the thought police?

Emperor Nero celebrated public weddings with men, possibly once as the groom, and twice as the bride.

The ceremonies included traditional elements such as a dowry and the wearing of the Roman bridal veil. Other mature men at his court had husbands, or said they had husbands in imitation of the emperor (always good to keep on side with the boss). And yet, even though satire would have been a risky business in those days, there was still mocking.


The rector of one of Sydney’s more fashionable cathedrals told me in conversation that he was “surprised that the gays, with their lifestyles, would choose the bourgeois cul-de-sac of marriage.”


I have known a few Steve and Kevs, but some gay males of my acquaintance have admitted being hedonists, merely out for a good time. Some have complained to me that the Mardi Gras has become dull because of the lesbian influence.

Could it be – despite what Cyndi Lauper used to say – it’s the boys who just want to have fun, while the girls are earnest and political?

The rector of one of Sydney’s more fashionable cathedrals told me in conversation that he was “surprised that the gays, with their lifestyles, would choose the bourgeois cul-de-sac of marriage.”

Although male couples are mostly used to illustrate media stories (the ABC uses photographs of men who look like they could have stepped out of a Fletcher Jones window in 1956) according to the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, women were more likely to participate in the survey than men. It’s been claimed that most of the signatories to the AMA petition accusing anyone who opposes same sex marriage of acting like a racist are women.

Just looking at the list of names certainly seems to confirm that.

I spoke to a visiting US professor who has studied the issue extensively and put it to her from my years of discussing the issue that the big push for gay marriage seemed to be from females.

She agreed and said: “What little girl doesn’t want a big white wedding?”

But what then?

Also on The Big Smoke

If a daughter’s aim is to convince Mum that marrying another woman is a real marriage just like cousin Amelia who married a man, because the “Yes” vote won and the State says so, will that satisfy Mum’s biological imperative to become a grandmother?

And speaking of lesbians, one I know told me because she couldn’t have a child that was truly hers and her lover’s, she wouldn’t be doing it.

That seemed to be a grown up position from someone who knows her own mind. “Boston Marriage” was a term used in the 19th and early 20th century to refer to two single women living together, independent of men. The term was originally coined in Henry James’ novel The Bostonians, which told the tale of an intimate companionship between two wealthy, Boston women.

But whether giving that arrangement state sanction and calling it “a marriage” will keep Mum happy when there are no grandkids seems unlikely to me. Sadly you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.

While the ladies may love a wedding no matter what the makeup of the happy couple, I’ll put my money on biology winning in the end. Pick your poll to support your argument (although most say “Yes” will win, 67% of Telegraphreaders will say “No”).

But “Yes” or “No”, you can be sure campaigners will keep campaigning, people who don’t feel the imprimatur of the state or the church is necessary to legitimise their relationships will continue to make their own arrangements and parents who want direct descendants will still be disappointed.

Lisa Simpson, when confronted with the chant from Springfield’s gay pride marchers, “We’re here, we’re queer – get used to it” says: “You say that every year, we’re used to it.”

It’s a situation that has waxed and waned for at least a couple of thousand years that we know of, and no matter what the postman delivers, I don’t think it’s going to be resolved anytime soon.

Mike Jeffreys has been a radio broadcaster most of his working life, with occasional forays in to other media. He’s been seen lately on SKY NEWS. He has three sons and is a mediocre poker player.


Yesterday I posted an article on the intolerance in Canberra (Australia’s National Capital) to the opponents of same sex marriage.

It was in response to the tirade of vile and vicious “comments” which flooded into the CITY NEWS which ran a story last week on a local Christian couple who had threatened to divorce if same sex marriage laws were passed in Australia.

Included in this Editor’s note, published in CITY NEWS today are more blatant examples of the hypocrisy surrounding this debate over “tolerance”


EDITOR’S NOTEOUR cover story last week captured the imagination of national and international media and was read by millions of people around the world.


Nick and Sarah Jensen’s threat to divorce if the government were to amend the Marriage Act struck a raw nerve, especially with proponents of equal marriage, and the Christian couple’s protest became a viral sensation on social media.This paper has supported marriage equality for a long time. We have published, over recent years, many serious columns looking at the issue from political to social viewpoints by accomplished writers such as Michael Moore, Robert Macklin and, more recently, Marcus Paul.

But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t have regard for those who oppose it and, as a Christian lobbyist, Nick Jensen, in particular, has had an occasional column to take a contrary stand.

We don’t agree with him, but we always respect all sides of the argument. It’s called a fair go or freedom of speech.

But it is a lack of respect that has saddened me deeply this past week as I cast an eye down the verbal sewers of posts on Facebook and Twitter as the menacing, mindless trolls dish out personal abuse on the Jensens and their innocent two kids. It is a sickening glimpse of a humanity I don’t recognise.

“CityNews” was also taken to task for, well, essentially doing its job and reflecting our community and its differing views through this magazine and its news website.

There was some fair criticism from sensible people and I accept and respect it; we’re not perfect. But much of the predictable caterwauling came from keyboard warriors in other places and I chose to ignore that.

However, a couple of the damaging conspiracy theories do need a reply. One is that we are a mouthpiece of the Australian Christian Lobby, a laughable accusation that is totally rejected (the theorists clearly don’t know me); another is that we were paid to run the story on the cover is also totally false. A third is that I am a personal friend of Nick Jensen. I’m not, but so what? He’s pleasant company and I’ve shared a beer with him at our office Christmas party. And so it goes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a paper to put out.

Ian Meikle

Who is the true Christian?

THE photo of Dr Sarah Jensen and her husband Nick Jensen on your front cover in the last issue gives a false impression of a wholesome loving pair emanating goodwill to all, but reading Nick’s article quickly dispels that impression.

They are peddling a long since discredited version of Christianity, which equates intolerance of other people’s differences with piety.

I fully support the Jensen’s right to hold their views and have them published in “CityNews”, but the prominence you give to the photo (which is repeated on page 3) is out of proportion to the importance that should be attached to such superstition, which really belongs in a deep, dank hole.

Nick’s brother Soren wrote a very sensible, measured response to some of the nasty commentary which the original article inspired. I don’t believe that abuse is the best way to counter outmoded religious interference in people’s lives, but it is understandable that people who want nothing more than to be treated equally with others, would be frustrated at the prominence given to  the views of such fanatics.

It was interesting that in the same issue an article about former sex worker Fiona Patten, now a member of the Victorian Upper House as a representative of the Sex Party, portrayed a tolerant, far-sighted individual who promotes eminently sensible policies that if adopted, would benefit all of us. I wonder which of these three people is the true Christian?

John Franze, Gowrie

We just don’t care

I’VE seen your post on Facebook that a couple threatens divorce if same-sex marriage is legalised.

How do those of us in the rest of the world get the word to this couple that we just don’t care, and that they are totally Irrelevant?

Please suggest to them that if they feel so strongly about it that there is another group of religious nuts fighting to set up their own State in Iraq and Syria, and this couple would fit right in! If they move there quickly, they might even be able to participate in the pleasure of beheading same-sex couples!

Duane Grindstaff, Kent, Washington, US

We don’t want you

AS a married couple of 40 years, we’re glad that you intend to get divorced when marriage equality is introduced. We don’t want our marriage associated with you and your perverse religious views. May your god forgive you.

Bernard and Kathy Walsh, Dunlop

Destroying the sanctity of divorce

I AM offended that Nick and Sarah Jensen plan to destroy the sanctity of divorce with their pathetic protest against marriage equality (CN, June 11).

The Jensens say they intend to “…continue to live together, have more kids, and refer to each other as husband and wife.”

How then will they meet the legal requirement of being separated for a period of at least 12 months before being able to apply for divorce? Are they planning to lie on their application?

How about the Jensens just get on with their own life and leave the rest of us to do similarly?

Julia Rollings, via email

Get me to the church…

I READ your article about Nick Jensen and his wife saying they will divorce if gay marriage becomes legal.

I have never married and I am not gay, but if Nick Jensen and his wife divorce because of gay marriage I will get married in Canberra, at the very church that the Jensens attend. Then I will have my wedding photos outside his house and invite the media.

That way one straight couple divorces, and another straight one marries.

Ken Thorpe, Mildura, Victoria

‘Ridiculous’ actions

I HAVE to write to say that the actions that Nick and Sarah Jensen are contemplating if there is a change in the marriage law is ridiculous. Marriage is not as Nick says “a sacred institution ordained by God”. In the early days the church was against marriage believing that it would create an emphasis on looking after family at the expense of concentration and loyalty to the church. This changed over time as it suited society.

If Nick and Sarah believe in “God” and believe he made people in his image, then he made those people that are same-sex attracted. They are equally as good in his eyes, contribute equally as well as heterosexuals, they are as loving and caring to a family, and have a right to be married if they wish.

What a strange message they are giving their children.

Patti Wilkins, Ainslie

Divorce is divorce, of course, of course

Re “Gay law may force us to divorce” (with apologies to Wilbur and Mr. Ed.)

Divorce is divorce, of course, of course

And no force could make us divorce of course

That is of course unless the force

Is Australian gay marriage

Go right to the source and say of course

If gays can be married then we’ll divorce

Don’t knock us off our steady course

Australian gay marriage

Louis Desjardins. via email


By Mike Welsh


I’m neither bent nor bigoted, but I am confused. Baffled would be a better word. Baffled by the appalling attitude and blatant hypocrisy displayed by people who demand a tolerant and inclusive society, but fail to apply it to people who don’t share their opinion.

For a good chunk of the past dozen years I gratefully accepted a meagre stipend for ranting and raving daily at Canberrans on talkback radio. I have an intimate understanding of the “average Canberran”. Though many would be offended at the very term “average”.

Last week the outstanding weekly glossy magazine Canberra CityNews ran a front page story about Nick and Sarah Jensen, a local Christian couple who have threatened to divorce each other if same sex marriage legislation gets up. Call it a stunt or a foolish protest if you will, but the massive backlash to the story is a sad indictment on the parts of society who not only prides themselves on being tolerant, they demand it.

Some Canberrans believe they are not only better educated and remunerated, but more cultivated and couth than the rest of the country. Fact is, they pride themselves as being sufficiently civilised to tolerate the diversity necessary for the “social utopia” that is Canberra, be they cyclists, prisoners, or the pornographers. All manner of groups in the community are tolerated and some are even celebrated, but there is a limit to which the tolerance of this smart and civil city can be stretched. Christians. Yes there are plenty of Christians in Canberra and I have been one of them.

CityNews Editor, Ian Meikle, a veteran newspaper man, was neither shocked nor offended by the avalanche of vile and vicious criticism of him and the hideous hate slogans levelled at the Jensens, which swamped the site after the article. The ugly onslaught did leave Ian utterly depressed. Depressed by the obvious and total inability of a powerful section of the community to discuss an important issue in a mature manner.

“Having a conversation” is the new phrase that has crept into the lexicon to replace “debate”. But when was the last time you had a conversation that begun with “Filthy bigoted pigs” and ended with “Hope you homophobic morons rot in hell”?

The hate that CityNews copped did not all come from Canberra, in fact, the filth flooded in from around the globe to the scores of publications that picked up the story. Still, plenty came from the locals when there should have been plenty of support for the magazine’s courage.

Ian could only read a dozen “comments” at a time without becoming morose. Many had to be moderated, such was the disturbing content. He is simply the editor of a magazine that chose to publish the other side of an emotionally charged and important issue. He is not the Christian couple pulling the controversial stunt. Seems few are sadly prepared to make that distinction.

In 2011, ACT Brumbies and Wallaby player David Pocock and his partner Emma, both committed Christians, declared they would NOT marry until same sex marriage was legal. The couple had a wedding ceremony in 2010 and describe themselves as married, but didn’t sign documents confirming their union. So the Pococks, like the Jensens, who will continue to live together after the “divorce”, are actually married. I can’t recall any public outcry over their stunt.

Dare to say you don’t agree with same sex marriage and the odds are you’ll be labelled homophobic and bigoted. Politically correct individuals and lately, corporates, cover their potential homophobic and bigoted butts with the worn-out phrase “Some of our friends are gay”. Which is to say they are magnanimous enough to squeeze some gay colleagues into their vast array of besties in order to tick a few inclusive boxes.

Most of my friends are gay, but then again I don’t have many friends.

I’m sure one lesbian friend doesn’t understand why I’m a Christian about as much as I don’t understand why she’s gay, but it doesn’t impact on our relationship. We respect that and don’t judge each other. There are many things we don’t understand in society, but to disparage and denigrate each other will not lead to a better understanding of anything.

Up on a hill in Canberra, our pugnacious PM and former Howard head-kicker is seemingly hemmed in by the pressing same sex issue – a lesbian sibling and a man who thinks he’s the PM, Shock jock Alan Jones are both rubbing his nose in the rainbow. Yet Tony Abbott hasn’t seen fit to resort to the gutter warfare waged by the keyboard warriors and trolls who relentlessly refuse to concede opinions opposing theirs may be valid. Sadly a policy of zero tolerance to tolerance is just intolerance.


By Mike Welsh

The excellent Canberra news magazine CITY NEWS has touched a raw nerve on the Same Sex Marriage issue. And not just in the Nation’s Capital. An opinion piece by regular contributor Nick Jenson has seen the weekly journal quoted internationally.

A committed Christian, Jenson and his wife ,GP Sarah, announced in CITY NEWS they would divorce if legislation allowing gay people to marry became law.

The couple, which has just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, say they have not taken the decision to divorce lightly and understand it’s one which many people may not readily understand. The pair will continue to live together, have more children an refer to each other as husband and wife, but legally end their marriage because they believe “marriage is not a human invention”

City News Editor Ian Meike says he decided to run the piece including a front page pic to give a balanced view to a hotly discussed debate, But the veteran newsman was not prepared for the vicious and filthy backlash the City News copped for running the story. Seems those who preach tolerance in all things are only prepared to be tolerant up to a point.

I spoke with Ian on my radio program on 2HC Coffs Harbour today

Convert Shorten Preaches to the Converted.

By Mike Welsh

Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten is extremely optimistic if nothing else. 

As guest speaker at the Australian Christian Lobby’s annual conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra this weekend, the “parachuted” hero of the Beaconsfield Gold mine rescue blatantly mined another rich vein of gold, the precious political type which flows from the conservative Christian vote. And he may just have scored the gold medal for sheer unadulterated political gall along the way.


“Shorten clearly expects to be able to have his “Kate and Edith too” on the same sex issue”

To give Bill credit he didn’t adopt the usual weasel words pollies use around contentious issues, speaking boldly about his firm support of Same Sex marriage to the most rusted on anti-gay group in society.

On the politically fraught issue of  Marriage Equality, Bill brazenly marched onward, to the beat of a completely different drum from the conservative Christian soldiers before him in the Hyatt room.

The ACL with its Tea Party tendencies and matching unfashionable baggage on gay issues was expected to swallow Bill ‘s pious pitch..good Book, party  Line and hymn Singer.

While not going into too much detail, “Brash” Bill’s clear invitation to the ACL , to quote the crude LBJ solution to the J. Edgar Hoover problem, was for it to come into the True Believer’s tent and “piss out” rather than be on the outside “pissing in”. The audacity of the man.

As Bill attempted to convince the assembled believers that he too was a “believer” rather than just another “Catholic” by chance of a school chosen for him by his folks, a measure of cynicism certainly would have invaded the hall.  However the ACL, itself no slouch in manipulating the media, did after all invite Bill to be Keynote speaker.

In late 2012 former ACL head Jim Wallace was forced to deny making a link between homosexuality and tobacco in a debate over Same-Sex marriage.   

Wallace told an audience at University of Tasmania that homosexuality reduced life expectancy far greater than smoking tobacco.  And he struggled to dig his way out with…. “What I was saying is that on one hand we are vocal on our discouragement of people to smoke and on the other we are suppressing public dialogue about the health risks associated with homosexuality.”     (Jim Wallace)

In a week which saw the faithful blindly beatify the greatest of the great True Believers, E.G. Whitlam, TB Bill even quoted parts of the Sermon on the Mount.  While he didn’t dwell on that girlie bit about the “meek”,  Bill’s sermon was big on The Bold Shall Inherit the Mandate.

The tweet about “Catholic” Bill  becoming a “proper” Christian with #fuck (Former Ubiquitous Catholic Kid) obviously failed to “trend”.

But Bill’s testimony of his “blended” brand of Christianity at the ACL’s gathering at the Hyatt in Canberra at the weekend would have had as much impact as a Convert Preaching to the Converted. None.