Friday January 13, 2012
Take Margaret Court's name off arena, says gay advocate
by: Chip Le Grand
AUSTRALIAN Open tournament organisers face calls for Margaret Court's name to be stripped from the arena that bears it because of her outspoken views against homosexuality.
Kerryn Phelps, one of Australia's best-known gay women, said the former champion tennis player had gone beyond expressing a view about gay marriage and homosexuality to vilification of people living in same-sex relationships. "You have got a public landmark, in an iconic Australian sport like tennis, which is named after a person who is expressing views which are extremely hurtful to a lot of people," Professor Phelps told The Australian. "There should be careful consideration given to changing the name."
Court is Australia's greatest woman tennis player, having won more grand slam titles than any other woman. She is a senior pastor at Perth's Victory Life Centre church and has a religious objection to homosexuality.
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said Margaret Court Arena was named in recognition of Court's playing achievements and that she was entitled to express her views.
Court attracted the ire of the gay lobby during last month's debate on same-sex marriage at the ALP national conference when she wrote that the proposed reforms would "legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices". She sparked further debate yesterday after telling The Australian she did not hate homosexuals and used her pastoral work to "help them to overcome" what she believes is a sexual choice rather than orientation.
The furore over her latest comments has fuelled a Facebook campaign urging people to display gay pride colours at the Open and turn Margaret Court Arena into an informal protest site.
Mr Tiley said protesters would be welcomed at the tennis as long as there was no disruption to play or the enjoyment of other fans.
Federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib, who supported gay marriage at the ALP national conference, disagreed with Court's comments and welcomed Tennis Australia's statement that all people regardless of sexual orientation should be treated equally.
Professor Phelps, who went to New York last year to legally marry her partner Jackie Stricker, with whom she has three children, accused Court of using "selective fundamentalism" to raise biblical objections to same-sex couples. "Gay and lesbian members of the community are sick to death of being everyone's punching bags."
Sydney ~ December 14 2011
Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King condemn Margaret Court's views on same sex marriage
MARGARET Court has been condemned by fellow tennis champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King after the most successful woman in grand slam singles history savaged same sex marriages.
Court, 72, opposes homosexuality and gay marriage and sparked new controversy by telling West Australian media: "Politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take."
Court, winner of a record 24 grand slam singles titles and 62 majors overall, is the founder and senior pastor at Victory Life Church in Perth.
One of only three women to win all four singles majors in the same year - American Maureen Connolly and German Steffi Graf are the others - Court urged Australians to make a stand against same-sex marriage, saying no human law could ever change God’s divine laws.
"To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong," she said.
"The fact that the homosexual cry is, ‘We can’t help it as we were born this way’, as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern.
"Every action begins with a thought. There is a choice to be made."
Her comments were immediately seized upon by Navratilova, who is one of several high-profile openly lesbian tennis players.
"Seems to me a lot of people have evolved, as has the Bible. Unfortunately, Margaret Court has not," Navratilova told TennisChannel.com
"Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same-gender families."
"I have tried to talk to Margaret but to say she’s completely close-minded on the issue is an understatement."
Billie Jean King, who was Court’s arch-rival, said: "We have to commit to eliminating homophobia because everyone is entitled to the same rights, opportunities and protection."
Melbourne ~ Friday January 13, 2012
Stubbs gives her backing to show of gay rights
By Glenn Cullen, Sydney
Rennae Stubbs (right) with Sam Stosur at Wimbledon in 2009. (Reuters)
FOUR-time grand slam doubles champion Rennae Stubbs says she backs activists showing their support for gay rights at the Australian Open starting next week.
Stubbs, who has been open about her homosexuality for six years, said it was only fair that people had the same voice as former Australian great Margaret Court, who prompted a recent backlash because of her anti-gay views.
''Margaret has said her feelings and it's public and it has leverage so I think this is the only way the people feel that they can be heard - through a sign of solidarity. Through getting together and letting people know how they feel,'' Stubbs said. ''As long as it [a protest] is done tastefully, that's the most important thing for me.''
Court, a 24-time grand slam singles title winner who's now a senior pastor at a church in Perth, once blamed lesbianism for ruining women's tennis and recently earned the ire of homosexual groups for her vocal opposition to gay marriage.
In response the Facebook group, ''Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena'', urged people to display gay pride colours at next week's Open. Court countered by vowing any protest would not stop her from attending.
But Stubbs said it was important for people of Court's standing to stop and think about what effect their comments might have.
''I hope that people that are in public life and have a forum like she does and like some of us do in television and in print - we realise that facts are important as well,'' said Stubbs, who played on the women's tour for 20 years and is now a commentator with the Seven Network.
''Sometimes comments get made that aren't factual and that's the problem. This is a belief and if you are going to say these things publicly you have to understand there could be some ramifications for some people."
''Margaret has her beliefs and I don't preach against them but I don't go out publicly and say something about it.''
Stubbs said Court's vocal stance could affect players in ways the 69-year-old hadn't considered.
''Everybody on tour is going to go about their business, whether you are gay or straight, that's the most important thing, but could it be harder for them because they are conflicted or feel bigotry? I'd say so,'' Stubbs said. ''That's one of the reasons I came out - because I didn't want to feel like I was looking over my shoulder and wondering what the next move would be in my life.''
Tennis Australia issued a statement on its website yesterday distancing itself from Court's comments.
''Her personal views are her own and are definitely not shared by Tennis Australia. Like the WTA, we believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly. We concur wholeheartedly with the WTA who stated that all human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or otherwise, should be treated equally,'' the statement said.
Australian Open Tennis Championships 2012 ~ Thursday, 12 January, 2012
By Tennis Australia
Margaret Court has won more grand slam titles than any other player and has been honoured for her achievements in tennis and she is a legend of the sport. We respect her playing record, it is second to none.
But her personal views are her own, and are definitely not shared by Tennis Australia. Like the WTA, we believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly. We concur wholeheartedly with the WTA who stated that "all human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or otherwise, should be treated equally.
This is a fundamental right and principle, including within the world of sport. Anyone advocating otherwise is advocating against fundamental and essential rights."
TA does not support any view that contravenes these basic human rights.
January 12, 2012
Court in same sex tennis furore
Margaret Court in December, 2009. (TONY ASHBY)
Tennis great Margaret Court told Reuters on Wednesday she was sad her religious views were being used as fuel for a planned protest at next week's Australian Open, but said she remained staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage.
Activists are calling for people attending the year's first grand slam event, starting on Monday, to unfurl "rainbow flags" at the Margaret Court Arena, the third show court at Melbourne Park, named after the Australian.
Court, a 24-times grand slam singles champion and a pastor at the Victory Life Centre church in Perth, has long opposed same-sex marriage but sparked a fierce backlash from retired women's champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, both homosexuals, when she reiterated her views in a Western Australian newspaper recently.
Court was quoted describing advocacy of same-sex marriage as promoting "unhealthy" and "unnatural" unions.
"To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong," the newspaper quoted her as saying.
Court yesterday told Reuters that she stuck by her views on same-sex marriage but denied she was anti-gay.
"I actually love homosexual people," the 69-year-old said in a telephone interview. "I do not have anything against them. It's just my view [about gay marriage] and it's in the scriptures ... The Bible will always be the TV guide to my life.
"I believe marriage is something between a man and a woman."
Court said she had previously expressed to Navratilova that she would not change her views.
"I said 'Martina, God loves you but a wrong does not make a right ... Don't try to change me.'"
Court, who plans to attend the Australian Open, said she was "sad" protesters might seek to use the tennis as a venue for expressing their views.
"Minority groups can have their views [but] as soon as a Christian stands up it's not allowed," she said.
Same-sex marriage is legal in a number of countries and in several states in the United States, including New York. But it remains illegal in Australia although same-sex partners have equal rights to those of heterosexual couples under other areas of the law.
The "Rainbow Flags over Margaret Court Arena" Facebook page is calling on people to break their silence in supporting the initiative.
"Our Mission: To support the gay community by inundating MCA with rainbow flags during the Australian Open," it says.
Australian Open organisers have bolstered security in recent years after the grand slam was marred by a number of violent incidents between rival ethnic camps of tennis supporters, but would not be drawn as to how they would respond to the possibility of the "rainbow" protest unfolding.
"We will be having our usual security review as the tournament nears and obviously this is something we are aware of and will need to prepare for," tournament director Craig Tiley said.
"Margaret Court has won more grand slam titles than any other player and has been honoured for her achievements in tennis. She is a legend of the sport. We respect that her playing career is second to none. But her personal views are her own and are not shared by Tennis Australia."
Equal Love, a national campaign advocating gay marriage, endorsed the initiative and said they expected at least 1000 people to participate.
"Margaret Court has shown herself to have bigoted views ... We would not think that the tournament organisers would regard people's right for equality in love to be considered a security incident," a spokesperson for the campaign said
Perth ~ December 7 2011
Legend condemns gay marriage
By BRIDGET LACY, The West Australian
WA tennis legend Margaret Court has slammed the push to legalise gay marriage, saying she wants to "protect families".
The Rev. Court urged Australians to make a stand against gay marriage, saying no human law could ever change God's divine laws.
The Rev. Court, who is regarded as the greatest female player of all time, believes Australia needs to wake up as a nation to protect future generations."Politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take," she said.
The Rev. Court, who founded and is a senior pastor in Perth's Victory Life Church, said society was best served by strong family units that comprised a mum, dad and children.
"They are not perfect, often dysfunctional and despite the fact the role models may be distorted and even severely flawed, there is no reason to put forward alternative, unhealthy, unnatural unions as some form of substitute," she said. "No amount of legislation or political point-scoring can ever take out of the human heart the knowledge that in the beginning God created them male and female and provided each with a unique sexual function to bring forth new life.
"To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong."
The Rev. Court claimed that in the US State of Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was legalised in 2004, the negative effects of such unions had already been felt.
"The fact that the homosexual cry is, 'We can't help it as we were born this way', as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern," she said. "Every action begins with a thought. There is a choice to be made."
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott reaffirmed his commitment to the "traditional" marriage during a visit to Perth yesterday, saying it should be between a man and a woman.
He believed his was the position of the majority of the party after Malcolm Turnbull said the coalition should follow Labor's lead to allow a conscience vote on the issue.