Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been widely applauded for cancelling an appearance at an Australian Christian Lobby event because its leader controversially claimed a homosexual ”lifestyle” was more dangerous than smoking.
But I think this is a missed opportunity.
Instead of playing it safe, Ms Gillard could have attended the function and used it to explain why she didn’t agree with the remarks.
Here is the central component of the speech Ms Gillard still could deliver:
Everyone has their own view of what constitutes a family.
It doesn’t have to be a man and woman with two-point-four kids.
Tim and I are no less a family than anybody else because we don’t have children.
And the Finance Minister Penny Wong, her partner Sophie and their beautiful daughter Alexandra are no less a family because of their choices.
Like love, families and family values are very hard to define — but you know them when you see them. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
Yesterday, I stood before the national media and condemned some remarks made by the leader of your organisation, Jim Wallace.
Jim is a man I respect, but we don’t agree on everything. He had compared the ill effects of passive smoking on children to the perceived impacts on a child of being raised by a gay couple.
I think this is a grossly offensive comparison.
To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong.
We live in a world where many people — men and women — make the brave decision to be single parents.
We live in a world where divorce is common. And sadly, we live in a world where children are sometimes abused in their family homes.
If new born babies could choose their parents, they would want somebody who is loving and protective.
Somebody who will always have their best interests at heart. Sexual preference wouldn’t come into it.
This is not to say that I have changed my position on gay marriage.
I still believe the institution of marriage is a solemn union between a man and a woman.
But I don’t believe that men and men or women and women, brought together by love and willing to embark on the great journey or parenthood should be considered ‘lesser parents’.