Yesterday the Australian Parliament gave final approval to the passage of the Same-Sex Relationships Bill 2008. The legislation and related attachments, all of which take effect once Royal Assent has been given (a formality), not only allow people to name their same-sex partners as beneficiaries of retirement plans, but provide a revised definition of "de facto" spouse to include same-sex partners.
This is important and exciting news for all Australian gays and lesbians. It is also a giant step forward for the entire Australian population, for it hammers yet another nail in the coffin of discrimination.
We owe a massive thank you to all the MPs who voted to approve this Bill. And to GLRL for representing us in a crucial and effective manner. Let's hope the way is now paved for even more anti-discrimination reforms!
Unfortunately, my inbox this morning also contained a newsbyte about the sudden death of renowned English conductor, Richard Hickox. He was found in his hotel room in the Welsh town of Swansea, where he had been working on a recording project. Reports indicate he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Hickox had moved with his family to Australia in 2005 to assume the position of Music Director of Opera Australia, a company suffering from the fall-out brought on by the ousting of its former Director over contentious issues. Hickox encountered some difficulties recently when two of his OA singers quit the company and filed an official complaint to the Board, claiming artistic standards had been severely lowered since Hickox's appointment.
I remember Hickox fondly. He conducted a performance of the Mozart C Minor Mass in Washington DC when I lived there, and I was singing in the ensemble. He was warm and kind to everyone involved, and his musicianship and conducting impeccable. His death is a shock to the entire music community.