A bill to pass same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly shot down in Australia’s House of Representatives this week with a vote of 98-42. Prime Minister Julia Gillard led the opposition, but according to Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young of the Australian Greens, Gillard “didn’t have the guts… to explain to the Australian people why she thinks discrimination should continue.” The leader of the Greens, Christine Milne, accused the ruling Labor party this week of “back room manipulation,” suggesting that Gillard had struck a deal with Australian Christian Lobby member Joe De Bruyn to shut down debate after Sen. Cory Bernardi compared homosexuality to bestiality, a claim that led him to resign this week.
Finance Minister Penny Wong, who is openly gay and raising a child with her partner — and who has spoken out passionately for LGBT equality in the past — decried the hurtful comments she heard from Senators about the families of same-sex couples:
WONG: I do not regret that our daughter has Sophie and I as parents. I do regret that she lives in a world where some will tell her that her family is not normal. I regret that even in this chamber, elected representatives denigrate the worth of her family. I will not rest in the face of such prejudice. I want for her, for all of us, an Australia which is inclusive and respectful, and this is why this campaign will not end here.
The Australian Senate will have its own separate vote on same-sex marriage on Thursday. In addition, several Australian states, including Tasmania, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, and New South Wales, are separately considering marriage equality legislation. Despite the House’s lopsided vote, 64 percent of Australians support the freedom to marry.