Saturday, November 18, 2017

NOT a Good Reason to Deny Love #4

“My religion is against it.” If you don’t want an (adult) intergenerational, interracial, same-gender, polygamous, or consanguineous relationship or marriage, then don’t have one. But we should all have the freedoms of religion and association and in places like the US, we have separation of church and state, so this can’t be a justification for denying marriage equality or other relationships rights.

There is no good reason to deny an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion, the right to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (or any of those without the others) with any and all consenting adults without prosecution, bullying, or discrimination.

Feel free to share, copy and paste, and otherwise distribute. This has been adapted from this page at Full Marriage Equality:

Go to NOT a Good Reason to Deny Love #3

Go to NOT a Good Reason to Deny Love #5 

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Friday, November 17, 2017

"You're grounded for life!": Why 'grounding' doesn't usually work and the importance of making sure the 'time fits the crime'!

A few years ago I wrote a blog entry about a young man who approached me after my talk with his first words being "Mr Dillon, I made a big mistake ..." This young man had gone out with friends a few weeks before and had got terribly drunk. He had not intended to get that intoxicated and he claimed that he had never been in such a state before. He was eventually found and taken to the local police station. His mother was called and he was taken home. But it was what happened the next day that he wanted my help on ... I'm paraphrasing, but essentially this was what he said:

"I'm grounded until December! That's a really long time. I know I've done the wrong thing but 8 months without being allowed out with my friends is going to be really hard. I'm prepared to take my punishment but do you think there's anything I can do to change my mum's mind?"
As I said at the time, if you could have seen this young man's face it would have broken your heart! He so knew that he had done the wrong thing - I haven't gone into any great detail about what he did that night but it didn't sound good and the phone call from the police must have been terrifying for the mother - and he was certainly willing to be punished but he didn't believe the punishment fitted the crime.
One of my key messages is that the 'tough love' (or 'authoritative') style of parenting has been proven to be the most effective in reducing future risky drinking in their children, i.e., rules, consequences, bound in unconditional love. That's easy to say but can be so difficult to actually carry out ... trying to work out what your rules are going to be can take a lot of work, but then you've got to decide what consequences are appropriate if those rules are broken!
Unfortunately, grounding continues to be one of the most often-used consequences by parents even though evidence would suggest that it is one of the least effective. One of the main reasons it doesn't work particularly well is that grounding is usually blurted out 'on the run' - something happens, tempers flare and the response is created in anger and not well thought through. If you want consequences to work, they must be able to be enforced. Grounding your child for long (or even short) periods of time is just going to make your life tougher and, in my experience, most parents 'give in' pretty quickly and as a result, lose all their credibility as far as rules and boundaries are concerned. It's also important to acknowledge that when parents respond in this way (i.e., telling them they're grounded), they are usually focused on 'winning' the fight (i.e., making it clear to their child that they are the boss) rather than actually teaching their child to do the right thing. Although it can seem like a perfectly appropriate response at the time (particularly when you are angry or hurt), trying to show your child that you are in control and that you are the 'winner' sets up a power struggle that is not healthy.
Every parent has to make their own decisions around how they choose to discipline their children. Working out what you want to achieve from the 'discipline techniques' you use is important. Do you want to 'punish' your child or do you want them to learn something as a result of the consequences you impose?  In an online article, Sarah Holbome writes how consequences should be used as 'teachable moments' whenever possible ... 
"The word "discipline" comes from the word "disciple", which means, "to teach". Therefore, discipline should not be seen as "punishment", but rather as a teachable moment. Essentially, when you discipline your child you are teaching him or her; you are teaching right from wrong, what is acceptable behaviour, and what is unacceptable behaviour. Punishment treats the person as wrong and focuses on what has happened in the past, but discipline treats the act as wrong and focuses on the future and what can be done differently. The goal is for your child to eventually become self-disciplined (demonstrating acceptable behaviour without needing your help and reminders)."
I recently spoke to a Mum and Dad who are currently struggling with their Year 10 son who has been 'pushing all their buttons'. These were great parents who obviously love their son. He sounds like a great kid but he's been sneaking out of the house without their knowledge on a Saturday night and was recently found almost unconscious in a shopping centre car park after drinking too much. When I asked the mother how she responded to leaving the house without permission, you could hear the frustration in her voice when she said the following:
"Nothing seems to have an effect. The only thing that worked, when we could actually see that it made a difference, was when we took him to the barber and we cut off his long hair!"
Punishment and consequences are very different things and if you want to ensure your teen learns a lesson after doing the 'wrong thing' it is important to ensure that you know the difference. Cutting her son's precious locks off was a punishment and I can almost guarantee that the 'difference' she saw in her son's face as they were being lopped off was in no way related to a positive 'teachable moment'. The mother did it to show she was in control and that she was boss. She was hurt - that is absolutely understandable. He was angry and resentful. The punishment may result in him never sneaking out of the house again, it may not, but if this 'power-based' response is regularly used it has the potential to cause great damage to the parent-child relationship.
So am I suggesting that grounding never be used? Of course not, if used appropriately, grounding can be a very effective consequence. It just needs to be thought-through and planned. 
Consequences need to be fair (they 'fit the crime'), balanced (they impact on the young person but aren't designed to 'hurt') and, as already stated, able to be enforced. The key to finding 'appropriate' consequences for breaking rules is ensuring that they are developed at the same time as those rules. Adolescents need to know what the rules are and why they exist, but they also need to be fully aware of the consequences should they break them. When they know what will happen should they play-up, they are much less likely to feel that their punishment is unfair - they may not like what will happen but it's no great surprise! So the best way to use grounding is to introduce it as a potential consequence when rules around parties and alcohol are discussed. This could be done in the following way:
"You know our rules around alcohol at parties. We trust you to follow them. If we discover, however, that you have broken these rules then you will not be attending the next party you are invited to."
Here's the rule and here is the consequence if you break that rule. They can't say they didn't know what was going to happen! It's fair, balanced and enforceable ...
Of course, there will be always be situations that are so out of character that rules in that area have not even been considered (how many parents would ever develop rules around being called by police because of their child's drunkenness?) and so it is then that consequences are going to have to be worked out after the event. If you want to do this in the most effective way, trying to ensure they actually 'learn' something from what you choose to impose, rather then simply punish them and potentially build resentment and damage your relationship, consider the following four simple steps:
  • Wait: Never decide and administer consequences in anger. You or your child are likely to say something you will regret and nothing positive will come of it. Wait until things have calmed down and you and your teen have a clear head.
  • Talk and then listen: When the time comes to talk to your child, start by telling them that whatever they do, you will always love them. You may not like their behaviour but nothing they do will change the fact you love them. Then tell them why you are upset or angry and then give them the opportunity to explain their behaviour. It is important to acknowledge that in many cases teens will not provide any justification for what they have done. At other times, they may try to shift the blame onto others or simply not accept that what they did was wrong. Just listen ...
  • Discuss how that behaviour can improve: Once they have had their say, give them the opportunity to come up with ways that things could be done differently in the future. How are they going to change this behaviour so that they don't find themselves in this position again? This may even involve you agreeing to consider renegotiating rules and boundaries in the future if they can prove that they can be trusted and their behaviour improves.
  • Let them know the consequences: It is important to ensure that whatever consequence is used it should be connected to the misbehaviour in some way. If they get an allowance and they have spent money on alcohol, it is entirely appropriate for you to reduce the amount you give them for a period of time. When they don't come home at the agreed time, reduce their curfew by half an hour. If you decide to remove a privilege that they have earned in the past, it is also important that they are aware that this can be earned back if behaviour changes.
The key is to never develop and discuss consequences in anger - that's why grounding is so often ineffective - it's nearly always doled out when tempers are flared. You may feel the need to scream and shout but it is important to try to keep calm and wait until tempers are a little cooler. Give your child a consequence that can't realistically be carried out and followed-through by you and you weaken any future rules you may try to put into place. They're simply not going to believe that you will follow-through the next time. Most importantly, even though most would not like admitting to it, grounding is used by parents to show their child who is boss. Something's happened, they feel like they're not in control and they lash out with something like "You're grounded for ... a month!" The time period means nothing, it wasn't thought through and it's usually completely ineffective ...

Holbome, S. (2016). Why does "You're grounded!" never seem to work? April 5, Youth Service Bureau, article accessed 16 November, 2017,

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Consent is THE Issue

In the US, we’re currently seeing what happens when people disregard consent one way: by sexually harassing, assaulting, or molesting someone. People are speaking up about how predatory people did certain things to them even though they did not consent.

On the flip side, we have laws and widely held bigotries that disregard consent when they criminalize and otherwise discriminate against adults who are consenting to their relationships.

Consent needs to be respected both ways.

If adults mutually consent to something with each other, whether it is one driving the other to dinner, a hug, a kiss, touching, a sex act, something involving BDSM, then nobody else should interfere uninvited. And if there is no mutual agreement, nobody should be harassed or coerced into doing something.

Why is this so hard to understand?

Respect consent!!!

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Frequently Asked Question: Can Siblings Marry?

The following is based on my understanding. I’m not at attorney and this should not be considered legal advice.

Can siblings marry?

I’m not aware of any government that will currently marry full-blood siblings or recognize a marriage of full-blood siblings; rather, if it was discovered by the authorities after an official marriage was formed that the spouses were, in fact, siblings, the marriage would be dissolved and considered invalid. If the spouses knew they were siblings when they married, they would be subject to prosecution. If they discovered the genetic relationship after getting married, they would have to file for an annulment or dissolution or risk prosecution.

Where sibling consanguinamory isn’t still banned by law, siblings can have a wedding ceremony and live the married life, although under discrimination, as their government will not recognize their marriage and they will not get treated equally.

Sweden and Brazil will legally marry half siblings under certain circumstances. I’m not aware of any country that currently has more progressive laws or laws as progressive as Sweden and  Brazil.

Some siblings report that they have been able to get a marriage license in places like the US based on the ignorance of the authorities, such as the siblings being born in different states or countries and/or not having a shared parent listed on their birth certificates. However, if the laws of that location do not recognize sibling marriages as valid, or if consanguinamory is illegal in that jurisdiction, a marriage license is a potential piece of evidence that can be used in criminal prosecution, and that’s sad.

[UPDATE October 2014: An anti-equality lawyer who has practiced in at least two US states insists that there are at least a few states where same-gender siblings should, by the existing laws, be issued marriage licenses.]

If siblings want to get married, they should be free to marry. Inequality, based on prejudice, is counterproductive. All over the world, there are siblings living as spouses; there always has been, some with the knowledge and support of friends and family, some hiding the full nature of their relationship. Sooner or later, full marriage equality will be in place in more progressive places, allowing siblings to marry without discrimination or fear of prosecution. Let’s make it happen sooner rather than later.

This question may be asked many different ways. Can siblings get married? Can siblings marry? Can a brother and sister get married? Can a brother and brother get married? Can a sister and sister get married? Can a sister marry her brother? Can a brother marry his sister? Can a sister marry her sister? Can a brother marry his brother? Can you marry your sibling? Can you marry your brother? Can you marry your sister? Can two sisters marry? Can two brothers marry?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Australian Leadership Can Make a Bold Move for Equality

The people of Australia have made it clear they support the rights of more people to marry. Those of us on the right side of history are happy to see more people around the world being free to have the relationships to which they mutually agree and to live out their gender identity. The leadership of the country can make a bold move for equality and take a leadership position in civil rights by bringing about full marriage equality.

This blog, and the related Facebook page, calls for relationship rights for all adults, including full marriage equality. When we say that an adult should be free to marry any and all consenting adults, we actually mean it. We have not hidden that.

As we see, there is no good argument against full marriage equality. So let's stand up for the rights of ALL adults to have the relationships to which they mutually agree.

Yes, we support the right of a white woman to marry a man of indigenous or African ancestry, or 30-year-old man to marry a 60-year-old woman, or a man to marry a man, or a woman to marry two men, or a woman to marry the half-brother she first met when they were both adults. None of these marriages hurt anyone else. None of these marriages hurt anyone, at least not in and of themselves. There are people who aren't right for each other, there are abusers, but that has to do with the individuals involved, and not the general freedom to marry.

Everyone has their own interests, priorities, likes and dislikes, prejudices, and biases. Some people care only about their needs, not those of anyone else. But we (including many LGBTQ people, and many people who are in or seeking plural marriage, a polygamous marriage, a polyamorous relationship, or a consanguineous relationship) are people who support the rights of all adults. We support full marriage equality, not just a freedom to marry for this group or that group. A decent person does not have to like the idea of every one of these relationships to support the rights of adults to have the relationships they want. A person doesn't have to want something for themselves or a loved one to have compassion for others who do need it.

We've been told that we are asking for too much in asking for full marriage equality, that by insisting that consanguineous or polyamorous lovers have their rights, too, that I was going to hurt the cause and there could be a swing of the proverbial pendulum, essentially back to the hetero-monogamous married only climate of condemning and denying rights to poly people, LGBTQ people, unmarried lovers, etc. But momentum is strong and increasing. We're not going to see a reduction in LGBTQ rights; we're going to see a continuing advance. Including rights for the polyamorous or consanguinamorous will not jeopardize this; rather, standing up for relationship rights for all will strengthen the rights for LGBTQ people. That is true because the people are evolving, for the most part, not because they no longer have their own aversions to relationships different than their own (many of them still do), but because they can think and they have thought through it and realized that consenting adults should be themselves and have their relationships and not be treated as second class citizens for doing so. When someone says we should support rights for consenting adults ...except for polyamorous and consanguinamorous relationships they are actually undermining LGBTQ rights and the related freedoms to marry, because the people to whom they are making their appeal find the appeal insincere.

Almost all who do oppose or have opposed interracial, same-gender, polyamorous, and consanguineous sexuality/relationships/marriage have done so for two primary reasons:

1. personal disgust
2. their religion

Sometimes those two reasons are indistinguishable.

But when people are calmly but firmly asked to think it through, and their concerns are addressed, they realize that there is no good reason to oppose consensual relationships between consenting adults. When someone insists that it is still OK or right to oppose polyamorous or consanguineous relationships, they are almost invariably bringing back an argument that they just dismissed when it comes to other freedoms to marry. To say that it is permissible to deny polyamorous or consanguineous lovers their rights, someone actually undermines the case for their own rights.

Now is the time to push for the rights of ALL adults. The bigots are in retreat. There's no going back. There may be some isolated backlash, but this kind of prejudice is dying out... literally. When we respond to the stubborn bigots by saying yes, discrimination against some adults is OK, the remaining observers, who are the ones who can be persuaded to support rights for LGBTQ people, are going to lose respect for the argument for equality. So the best response to "What's next?" is "Rights for all consenting adults. Why is that a problem?" The bigots won't have a good reason. Put them on the defensive, and they'll lose.

These disputes are nothing new to the civil rights movement. Going all the way back to when African-Americans were still enslaved here in the US, there were disputes about what rights to seek and how to seek them. "Do we fight for desegregation? For interracial marriage?" Those fighting for women's rights have had similar disputes. "Do we fight for lesbians or not?" To this day, there are people who say civil rights are for African-Americans. Not for gays, not for Mexican Americans. Don't play that game. Don't let that happen in Australia. Stand up for the rights of all adults. You don't have to like the idea of interracial relationships, or same-gender relationships, or polyamorous relationships, or consanguineous relationships to realize that people should have their rights.

Standing up for full marriage equality is not only the principled thing to do, it is the practical thing as well. There are people who are suffering right now because their loving, lasing, happy, healthy relationship is denied equality or even criminalized. This is not right, and it needs to end.

What’s the problem with letting consenting adults be together the way they want? Challenge the prejudiced. They won’t have a good answer. They’ll scoff, or jump up and down, or point and say “See!!!” But those aren’t arguments. They don’t explain why we should discriminate against any consensual relationships between adults.

Over and over and over again, this blog has called for solidarity between marginalized communities and their allies so that we stand up for the rights and dignity of all adults to be themselves and have their relationships. Will you do please likewise???

Equality "just for some" is not equality! Full marriage equality will happen sooner or later. We're helping to make it sooner. There's no good reason to deny it. The leadership of Australia can make history and lead the way for the whole world. Change the laws so an adult is free to marry ANY and ALL consenting adults.

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BREAKING: Australians Vote For More Freedom to Marry

Hooray for Australians for voting to increase the freedom to marry!

Keep evolving towards full marriage equality!

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Monday, November 13, 2017

When Bad Reactions Cause Harm

I answer a submission on this blog's sister Tumblr. It is from a man who was in a consanguinamorous relationship with his sister.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sometimes the Ice Just Needs Breaking

Anonymous submitted this at this blog's sister Tumblr.
Hi, Keith. If a mother and son love each other and feel attraction between them, I see no reason they could not date or make love. Even if they just want to have casual sex. Many sons and mothers living together and dreaming about each other. They only need to break the ice to finally get closer as they intend!
Read how I responded.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

Today is the Veterans Day holiday in the US.

I can’t help but think of the men and women who risked their lives (and those who gave them) and endured so many things in service to their country, who weren’t and haven’t been free to be who they really are and share their lives openly with the person or persons they love.

Recent years have brought progress, and we have to fight to keep what we've gained while still looking for more progres. Problematic laws and policies remain, and, of course, LGBTQ people, the polyamorous and consanguinamorous still endure the the threat of prosecution, persecution, or discrimination.

Shouldn’t someone who risked their life for this county be able to marry more than one person, or a biological relative? Or at least share a life with the person(s) he or she loves without a fear that their own government will be against them? Is bravery and valor negated if a man loves more than one woman, or his long lost sister? Shouldn’t a woman who served be free to marry both of the women she loves?

Let’s thank our veterans, especially those who are still being treated as second class citizens.

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