Australian politicians face off over marriage equality
Ahead of any votes on the divisive subject, two of the country’s most prominent politicians have engaged in a heated live debate on the issue.
Before several bills come before the Australian parliament when it resumes next month, debates have taken place regarding the legalisation of same-sex marriage, reports the BBC.
Opposition Labor Senator Penny Wong – fresh from giving a powerful speech on the subject earlier this week – put forward arguments for marriage equality.
Conservative government MP Senator Cory Bernardi – who has been accused of having “obsession” with gay people – argued against legalising same-sex marriage. The senator previously told parliament in 2012 that the next move in redefining marriage would be include polygamy.
He also made the outrageous claim that marriage equality would “open the door” to recognising relationships between humans and animals.
Ms Wong – who was the first member of the Australian Labor Party to come out while still sitting in parliament – said: “We are your brothers and your sisters, your sons and your daughters, your friends and your fellow Australians, and this is a debate about us.
“A debate about rights, a debate about intimate and personal relationships, a debate about the people we love.
“In Australia today, two citizens who love each other and who wish to make a public declaration of their mutual and exclusive commitment through the ceremony of marriage are prohibited from doing so, solely on the basis of their gender.
“If the disqualifying attribute were race, age or religion, such a proposition would be rightly seen as bizarre,” she added.
However, Mr Bernardi countered with assertions that LGBT couples do not have the right to marry – that right is reserved for heterosexual couples only.
“Marriage is not a right. It was not invented. Marriage simply is,” he argued.
“Marriage has been reserved as a sacred bond between a man and a woman across times, across cultures and across very different religious beliefs.
“I believe there is no need to redefine marriage on the basis of equality.”
He also issued a somewhat backhanded compliment to some same-sex families, claiming that many gay parents are better at bringing up children than their straight counterparts – although his praise quickly turned to further criticism.
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“I will not deny that some same-sex couples make much, much better parents than some married heterosexual couples.
“However, it doesn’t change the general principle that the ideal is still a child being raised by their married mother and father.”
However, Ms Wong – who has two children with her partner Sophie Allouache – pointed out that same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage are two separate issues, stating: “Leave aside for a moment the truth that the quality of parenting is altogether more complex than simple assertions about gender.
“The reality is this: same-sex couples already have children. Marriage equality will not alter that.”
In a powerful closing statement, she said: “If we achieve marriage equality, most things won’t change.
“The sun will rise, heterosexual marriages won’t crumble, three-year-olds will still want more ice-cream than is good for them, but together we will have made a profound change: a statement to lesbian and gay Australians that we belong, that we are accepted, that our relationships matter.”