Gillard to host dinner for gays, lesbians

2012-02-21 13:02
Canberra - Prime Minister Julia Gillard, an opponent of same sex-marriage, will host a meal for two lesbian couples and a pair of gay men at her official residence on Tuesday after an Australian activist group won a charity auction.

The couples will use the dinner in the national capital of Canberra to lobby the prime minister to allow gay marriage.

The 12-year-old son of one of the women, Matthew Miller, will present Gillard with flowers and two letters explaining why he and his brother Dylan, aged 9, would like their biological mother Sandy Miller, aged 40, to marry the other woman whom they call their mother, Louise Bucke, aged 36. But the Sydney-based boys won't stay for dinner.

"Since they're not allowed to get married, they're basically being called not normal and we're not known as a proper family," Matthew Miller said at a function at Parliament House before the dinner.

Other guests are Brisbane academic Sharon Dane, aged 54, who married her wife Elaine Crump, aged 53, in Canada in a ceremony that is not recognised in Australia.

Bills introduced

Gay couple Steve Russell, aged 51, and John Dini, aged 29, decided against marrying overseas because it would carry no weight in Australia. While they could have a civil union recognised under state law in their hometown of Melbourne, they don't regard that as equivalent to marriage.

The activist group GetUp! paid $33 270 for the dinner when they won a bidding war against a Christian lobby group at the Press Gallery of Australia annual charity ball in June last year.

Gillard's Labour Party in December lifted its long-standing opposition to gay marriage, and three separate bills have been introduced to Parliament that would change the law which states that only a man and woman can marry.

But Gillard remains opposed to gay marriage, and it is unclear whether any bill would attract sufficient support to enable same-sex couples to marry. No date has been set for a vote in Parliament on gay marriage.

Polls show that most Australians support gay marriage, but the conservative opposition coalition and many government lawmakers remain opposed.

- AP
Read more on:    julia gillard  |  australia  |  gay rights
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