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Aussie PM Will Attend, But Not Support, Lesbian Sister’s Wedding

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Oct 24, 2013

After the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) became the first jurisdiction to pass equal marriage on Oct. 22, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that he would attend his lesbian sister's wedding, but that he doesn't support the marriage.

According to Sky News, Abbott said, "If there's a ceremony of some kind, yes, I will be there with a present. I'll do the right thing."

Abbott's sister, Christine Forster, is a mother of four who recently announced her engagement to her partner Virginia Edwards. A Liberal Party councillor in Sydney, she belongs to the same party as her brother.

"It will be close friends and family. Tony and Margie will definitely be there," she told Pink News.

Abbott said he wishes them well, but that it would not stop his fight against the same-sex marriage laws, noting that it was about upholding the Australian constitution and preserving a "uniform approach throughout the commonwealth" to marriage laws.

"I am a traditionalist on this," he told Sky News. "From time immemorial in every culture that's been known, marriage, or that kind of solemnized relationship, has been between a man and a woman."

The Parliament passed the law on Tuesday with a 9-8 vote, drawing huge applause from the 200-plus people in the public gallery. Same-sex couples living in the ACT have been allowed to register their partnerships since 2008 and hold civil partnerships since 2009.

Pink News reports, Abbott said that the weddings, which will begin in December, are unconstitutional and clash with federal marriage laws. He said that his challenge was a legal one, not a moral one.

Still, same-sex couples are expected to rush to the national capital of Canberra to be wed before the law is overturned. In the same Pink News article, Rodney Croome, national director of Australian Marriage Equality, said at least 500 Australian gay couples from outside Canberra want to marry there as soon as possible. Only about 360,000 of Australia's 23 million people live in the ACT.

"It's cruel of the Federal Government to try to undo solemn vows of lifelong commitment made by the couples who will marry under this law," said Croome. "Those vows bring great joy to those couples and their families and do any harm. Why would anyone want to undo them?"

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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