• Senators Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong prepare to debate gay marriage at the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra. (AAP)
Senior federal Labor figure Penny Wong says legalising same-sex marriage won't change most things in Australia, but it'll make a difference to gay and lesbian couples, Senator Penny Wong has told an audience during a debate on same sex marriage.
By
SBS with AAP

Source:
AAP
29 Jul 2015 - 3:30 AM  UPDATED 29 Jul 2015 - 9:27 PM

Senator Wong has told a debate on marriage equality at the National Press Club in Canberra 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.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, who's told parliament previously that same-sex marriage could lead to pushes to legalise bestiality, said the term marriage equality was a "masterpiece of sloganeering".

He told the press club marriage isn't a right, it simply "is" and should remain an enduring union between a man and a woman to raise families.

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who has told parliament previously that same-sex marriage could lead to pushes to legalise bestiality, said the term marriage equality was a "masterpiece of sloganeering".

"Marriage is not a right. It was not invented, marriage simply is," he told the press club.

He said marriage should remain an enduring union between a man and a woman to raise families.

Same sex marriage debate the highlights

12.34pm: Penny Wong begins the debate.

12.35pm: Penny Wong: "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. No other attribute, no other disqualification, simply because they are of the same gender

12.39pm: Penny Wong: "Australians understand there's nothing to fear from equality, yet so many in our Government stubbornly cling to discriminatory laws and over time, the arguments against equality have become increasingly irrational.

12.41pm: Penny Wong: "This is a debate about real people. 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."

12.42pm: Penny Wong: "Well, Australians do see the injustice of denying marriage equality. Australians in same-sex relationships experience that injustice every day and if we achieve marriage equality, most things won't change. The sun will rise, heterosexual marriages won't crumble, 3-year-olds will still want more ice-cream than is good for them, but together we will have made a profound change."

12.43pm: Senator Cory Berdardi begins his speech.

12.44pm: Cory Bernardi: "Marriage is not a right. It was not invented, marriage simply is. Marriage has been reserved as a sacred bond between a man and a woman across times, across cultures and across very different religious beliefs."

12.45pm: Cory Bernardi: "So I believe and I think it's crystal clear, this campaign is not about equality, but it's about personal desire and self-interest of a vocal minority."

12.46pm: Cory Bernardi: "Many polls reflect a vastly different view from that espoused by the same-sex marriage lobby."

12.47pm: Cory Bernardi: "It is children who have rights and adults who have responsibilities, but that concept is being turned on its head by the advocates for this cause, because if you grant the right to marry for same-sex couples one can't deny their right to a family, which immediately impacts the right of a child."

12:51pm: Cory Bernardi: I believe there is no need to redefine marriage on the basis of equality. To do so is to live in a dictatorship of representativism where nothing is real, truths are denied and if they're considered inconvenient by the politically correct system. Marriage should remain what it has always been, the enduring union of a man and a woman to complement the raises of a family and the interests of the next generation. Thank you.

12.58pm: Penny Wong: "At the moment they don't, and Cory and other people inside the Liberal Party who are vehemently opposed to progress on this front have made it very clear they will do anything to avoid a free vote."

12.58pm: Cory Bernardi: "Every vote is a free vote in the Liberal Party."

1:01pm: Cory Bernardi: "It was interesting that Penny was so happy to rule out multimember unions or redefining marriage further and that says to me that she's got a line in the sand as we all do about what marriage should mean and what it should encompass."

1.03pm: Cory Bernardi is asked why there is such emphasis on children in the debate on same-sex marriage, when same-sex couples already raise children.

1.05pm: Cory Bernardi: "There is a slight difference though in the sense that a same sex couple can't produce children alone, they need assistance from a third party. That makes a difference to I guess the relationship for that child in some respects, but I would put to you if a child is loved, if a child is nurtured, developed and supported, that's all we can really hope for in a child but there is a different role that a father plays and a mother this plays, they're complementary role, they have a different impact in how they engage with their children."

1.05pm: Penny Wong is asked if she is concerned whether a free vote in the government's party room would mean the private member's bill would not pass.

1.07pm: Penny Wong: "First we will only achieve marriage equality if there are members of the Coalition who are prepared to support it both in the partyroom and in the parliament and I think that will be the case for sometime. I think that I do worry about the Coalition partyroom and the reason I worry is that it's been so clear from the public statements of some on the other side of this debate how aggressively they will pursue their interests. We've had Liberal Senators calling for people to step down from the frontbench, we've had a very aggressive set of interventions in the debate from my - from the leader of the Government in the Senate and others and it's quite clear that while there might be a free vote in theory there isn't a free vote in practice.

1.09pm: Cory Bernardi responds by saying cabinet solidarity is important. "We're in Government, we have a policy position, it should be expected that frontbenchers uphold that."

1.10pm: Cory Bernardi is asked whether he sees same-sex marriage as inevitable. "I just don't believe that's inevitability about it and that sort of argument that's been put forward to the Republic referendum in 1999, we spent the whole of the 90s saying how popular it was and it was rejected comprehensively."

1.12pm: Penny Wong: "The example he uses of a Republic is a very good one, because it is an example where the Conservative side of politics, including the current PM, did manage to run a successful campaign against a Republic."

1.17pm: Penny Wong: "We recognise there's marriage between religious institutions and the marriage recognised by civil society. Because of the religious views of some, the secular State on behalf of you should tell us we're not allowed to marry."

1.17pm: Cory Bernardi: "I believe they do coexist currently, but marriage has always been defined as between a man and a woman and we're seeking to redefine it, because they want entry into that club, if you will. But they're still entitled to register their relationships, they're still entitled to all the benefits that accrue to de facto relationships or married relationships. There's no discrimination under law."

1.20pm: Penny Wong: "Can I just ask a question then Cory, if you ascribe to the principles of liberalism, Liberals believe in the freedom of the individual. The position you're asserting particularly in relation to the partyroom is, in fact, a sort of collective dictatorship where the views of the many have to be imposed on the views of all?"

1.21pm: Cory Bernardi: "Our party has a position and we also have that great Liberal tradition where individuals can vote against the party if their conscience tells them to, the substantial difference between my party and your party is you can't do that without being thrown out. That's a substantive difference."

1.25pm: Penny Wong: "I think we are closer now to succeeding on a marriage equality bill if the Liberal Party provide a free vote than we have ever been, and whether or not we can succeed depends on many things, the decision inside the partyroom, the campaign that the community can make to their members and senators. But what I would say to you, I don't need a crystal ball to know that people's desire for equality is remarkably persistent and I think that LGBTI Australians and our allies are not going to go away on this issue."

1.27pm: Penny Wong makes her summary statement: "Thank you very much. Well, this has been an interesting debate in many ways, but what I would say to you is what we have heard from the other side are the same old tired arguments that we've always heard and fundamentally, the position that Senator Bernardi and many on his side have is that LGBTI Australians, same-sex couples are really not equal, and they point to many things that they say you should worry about or be scared about and I say this to you. Let's lift the gaze, let's look at what we can be, because marriage equality is about just that, it's about equality. It's not about treating people differently, it's about equal treatment before the law. Something we do in every sphere of our life. It's time friends to make the change, it's time for marriage equality. Thankyou."

1.30pm: Cory Bernardi makes his summary statement: "Once again, I will suggest to you that marriage equality is a catchy slogan, but it has no meaning in reality because there is no legal discrimination between same-sex couples and how they are treated except for the categorisation of their relationship as not being a married couple. And that's because marriage has always stood as a heterosexual union since time immemorial and the consequences of changing that are not as simple as allowing one group of people to join in. It's broad ranging, and quite significant and we're seeing the impact of those consequences internationally. We have to observe the lived experience and we have to recognise that marriage has always been a sacred bond between a man and a woman and I believe it should remain that way."