Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Australian Prime Minister Opposes Marriage Equality

Australia has its first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, but it doesn’t look like she will be pushing for any changes as far as marriage equality Down Under goes.Gillard became prime minister Wednesday (Thursday in Australia) after Kevin Rudd stepped down in response to falling support in the Labor Party, which itself has been losing favor in opinion polls.

Rudd, who had been prime minister since 2007, was an opponent of marriage equality, telling Australia’s ABC Radio in 2009 that marriage should be between a man and a woman. “[The Labor Party] is consistent with the policy that we took to last election,” he said, that the party "fully respects the integrity of same-sex relationships.”

The Welsh-born Gillard, who served as deputy prime minister to Rudd until Wednesday, has stated the same position on the issue. The following is an excerpt of a TV interview she gave last July:

Interviewer: Where do you stand on [marriage equality?]
Gillard: Well, the government’s position is very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.

That’s your position as well?
Yes, it certainly is.

Why is that?
Well, I understand that this is an issue that we’ve got to deal in contemporary Australian society with all of our history; hundreds of years of history in Australia and in western culture beyond what marriage means.

Things change, though, society changes.
Yes, it does. But we’ve said marriage is between a man and a woman. But we understand, I understand, that there are other forms of committed adult relationships and that people want them registered and recognized. And we have obviously said in the past that we understand that there are schemes in states that are moving along to recognize committed adult relationships.

Like a civil union? You think that’s a good idea?
Well, there are registration arrangements now in some states. I don’t want to pre-empt the debate.... But the government’s position about marriage being between a man and a woman is a very clear position.

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