Mardi Gras: Why were Aussie soliders allowed to march?
IN honour of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Australian Army last week provided its troops with a rainbow-coloured Army Pride lapel pin.
The official pin features the iconic Rising Sun badge wrapped in the rainbow colours of the same sex marriage campaign.
It is a blatantly political symbol, disrespecting the Anzac spirit in order to make a contentious political point, in direct contravention of official Army guidelines in place since 1903 to protect Australian Army emblems.
The rising sun badge "cannot be redrawn, recoloured, renamed, modified, cropped, rotated, manipulated or altered in any way...or used a part of a new logo".
And yet, here it is, authorised in 2013 by the diversity-mad former Army Chief David Morrison to be pinned on Army uniforms, where no pin for any other cause is ever allowed.
Vietnam veteran Charlie Lynn, for one, is furious that the Rising Sun has been wrapped in the imagery of identity politics.
"That's the biggest insult I have ever seen to a badge that means so much to both serving and retired veterans. It wasn't designed to be a catalyst for social change. It's a symbol of sacrifice. It's a symbol of what we fought for, for freedom."
The rainbow flag has become a political symbol of the so-called Marriage Equality campaign, and it has no place in a military which expressly forbids political activity.
Nor should our military be authorised to march in uniform in the Mardi Gras parade, as it did last night for the fourth year, another legacy of "Diversity Dave" Morrison.
Marching in uniform is a political activity, and never has the Mardi Gras parade been more political.
The theme this year is "Creating Equality", with 27 registered floats spruiking "Marriage Equality."
The Mardi Gras constitution states the parade is a "cultural, political and protest" activity, and its Board has called on the Government to "pass a Marriage Equality Bill".
This was the context in which roughly four ADF platoons marched last night down Oxford Street, wedged between the City of Sydney's "Say Yes to Love" float, featuring dancing brides and grooms, and the "Australians for Equality" float, whose "key message is to achieve marriage equality via a free vote in parliament".
So there was no ambiguity about the message the ADF is endorsing. It is a party political message, because the position of the Coalition is for a plebiscite on whether marriage is redefined, while Labor and the Greens want a parliamentary vote.
When young Army leaders at a recent diversity training course expressed concerns that marching in the Mardi Gras constituted political activity, they were told it was simply a "cultural event".
But that is manifestly untrue.
Defence defines political activity as "any activity other than voting carried out on behalf of or in connection with any registered political party (or) any group or organisation seeking to pursue their interests through political means such as lobbying, advocacy, public protest or other media attention."
Defence members are instructed to be "apolitical in the performance of their duties" and to ensure "that the ADF and the Department of Defence remain politically neutral".
The participation of uniformed ADF personnel at Mardi Gras also makes it a Defence workplace, where exhibitions of unacceptable behaviour are not tolerated.
Defence defines as "unacceptable" behaviour that is "offensive, belittling, abusive" and you don't have to look far to find examples at Mardi Gras.
Politicians who opposed same-sex marriage, such as Tony Abbott, Fred Nile or Bronwyn Bishop, are vilified.
Floats include the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Shellharbour Hard Shaggers, "No Pride In Turnbull", Queers against Detention, and the Socialist Alliance, not to mention GlamCocks, and Pup Pride Australia, which advocates the sexual fetish of humans crawling on all fours, with collars and leashes.
These displays follow the NSW Teachers Federation float, naturally, given the nature of the Safe Schools program.
As one former Army officer points out, if the objective is "inclusiveness, it should be extended to include the full spectrum of political views held in the Army".
Clearly, the Army only values inclusiveness for politically correct views.
For instance, when Army major Bernie Gaynor wanted to march in uniform in the anti-abortion March for the Babies, he was refused permission because the event was "political in nature".
The Army is engaged in a radical social engineering experiment, rejecting what it regards as an outdated male Anglo culture and segregating its troops according to ethnic, religious, sexual and gender identities which are accorded special privileges as victim groups, in the name of diversity. But Lynn, a candidate for RSL president, says the result is division and discord in an Army that has always been "proudly egalitarian".
"The Army has been the most inclusive organisation I've ever worked in. We didn't value our mates because of the colour of their skin or their ethnicity or their religious beliefs. They were fellow soldiers. They were our mates."