The Parliamentary Hansard now released shows Liberal Leader Will Hodgman vilified for supporting the idea that marriage is between a man and a woman.
In response to Greens MP Nick McKim’s motion calling on the Tasmanian Parliament to support a change in the federal Marriage Act, Mr Hodgman restated the Liberal Party’s support for the current definition of marriage:
We do strongly support the institution of marriage and its value in our community, and the benefits of marriage in bringing social cohesion as a foundation of the family, and indeed that which benefits children, both born and those who will be born from a marriage.
In reply Mr Hodgman was attacked for his view. Greens MP Cally O’Connor said “I felt sick listening to him... because what he espoused was actually bigotry” and that what he said “came from a hollow place inside him”. Greens MP Kim Booth also claimed said that Mr Hodgman’s speech was “shameful, divisive, reactionary, [and] unpleasant [and it] made me feel ill to even hear him utter the words that he spoke”.
Ms O’Connor later expressed contrition for her “unnecessary” language, but Mr Booth was unapologetic, telling his opponents “you are wrong, you are patently wrong. Your views are offensive, oppressive and unacceptable”.
But Mr Hodgman was careful to say he did not tolerate discrimination against homosexual people:
Clearly no-one in our community should be subject to vilification or abuse on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, but to argue strongly in support of the institution of marriage as is defined in no way suggests that anyone will necessarily be tolerant of such a thing occurring.
He stressed that “the Liberal Party totally, totally rejects discrimination and vilification in our community”.
Despite this, Mr Booth accused him of using “divisive, hideous language”, and claimed that Mr Hodgman’s views on marriage, shared by most of the Australian community, “fester and engender hatred”.
It is concerning that expressing the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman is enough to attract such aggression. The Australian Christian Lobby believes a civil debate requires respect on both sides, for those who support change as well as for those who hold marriage to have sacred cultural and religious significance. The dismissal of traditional views as "hatred" or "bigotry" is an attempt to stifle one whole side of the debate, as well as the views of the majority of Australians.
Mr Hodgman is to be commended on standing up for the definition of marriage as most Australians understand it.