The vice president of the federal Liberal party Karina Okotel says allowing same-sex couples to marry would create a state-sanctioned institution that deprives children of their biological parents.
In a speech that demonstrated the difference of opinion within the Liberal party – with both Liberal president Nick Greiner and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in favour of a change to the Marriage Act – Ms Okotel said she was hopeful the postal survey would expose a “silent majority” who opposed a change.
“I do think that people haven't had the opportunity to have their say and we don't know what people are thinking,” she said.
“What the ‘Yes’ campaign is really about is asking the state to sanction the creation of an institution that, by design, will contain children who may never know, or have relationships, with their biological parents as their family.”
Ms Okotel argued same-sex marriage would lead to more sexualised content in classrooms, using the example of an image in a school book that depicted a same-sex couple kissing.
“I believe it should be up to a parent to decide when their child is exposed to sexualised content,” she said.
Ms Okotel addressed the National Press Club alongside the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, who has been outspoken in his criticism of gay marriage.
Mr Shelton said he would respect the outcome of the postal survey even in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.
But he described same-sex marriage as a "package deal" with the controversial Safe Schools program.
“Our battle doesn't end come November 15, if we succeed,” he said.
Mr Shelton also warned same-sex marriage could lead to more restrictive anti-discrimination laws that would “make [section] 18C [of the Racial Discrimination Act] look very mild”.
“This will weaponise state-based, anti-discrimination legislation.”
The postal survey on same-sex marriage is now officially underway, with the first survey forms mailed out on Tuesday.
The campaigns for both sides will run through to the return deadline on November 7. A result will then be announced on November 15.