Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Australia's First Openly Lesbian Senator Finally Stepping Up

Senator Penny Wong, Australia's first openly lesbian and Asia-born cabinet member, today backed a motion passed at the ALP conference in South Australia for a federal policy change in favour of gay marriage. The openly gay senator from South Australia seconded an amended motion by the Florey sub-branch at today's conference. In doing so, she broke her silence over the national debate on equal marriage rights with a deeply personal speech about the need for the Labor Party to respect the principles of equality. [...]

Senator Wong, a Left factional ally of the Prime Minister, shifted her public position by announcing she would advocate at national conference for a policy change "to support equality including in relation to marriage for same sex couples."

"Like many in this room, I do know what it is like to be a subject of prejudice," Senator Wong said, noting she joined the ALP because it stood for equality and had historically worked against discrimination. "There has been some commentary which has confused my position of not commenting publicly on this issue with my position on the actual issue itself. I have been privileged and honoured, not only of being a member of our party, but an elected member of the federal parliament and of the federal Labor cabinet. I have had the opportunity to advocate for equality at the highest levels of our party and within our party processes, as I do today. And I will do so again at the next national conference. Talking about change is not the same as delivering it," Senator Wong said. "This state was the first state in this nation to decriminalise homosexuality, why should we now resile from expressing our views, our support for the principles of equality here today?"

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