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Lesbian Senator: “I Know What My Family is Worth” (Video)

Lesbian Senator: “I Know What My Family is Worth” (Video)

An exchange between Australia’s Finance Minister Senator Penny Wong and her political shadow during a political panel show is stirring huge interest.

One line from Wong, whose partner Sophie had a baby last December, has particularly hit home: “I know what my family is worth.” It is already available on t-shirts and coffee mugs. The Sydney Morning Herald called the exchange a “watershed.”

On the ABC TV panel show Q&A, the topic of same-sex marriage was brought up by an audience member. He asked the shadow finance minister, Joe Hockey, who is against amendments to the Marriage Act which would allow marriage equality, why he thinks he and his wife make better parents than the Finance Minister and her female partner.

“I think in this life we’ve got to aspire to give our children what I believe to be the very best circumstances – and that’s to have a mother and a father,” Hockey asserted.

Penny Wong took exception to this:

“When you say those things Joe, what you’re saying to me and people like me is that the most important thing in our lives – the people we love – is somehow less good, less valued,” she said.

“Is it hurtful?” asked host Tony Jones.

“Of course it is,” the senator replied. “But I know what my family is worth.”


The Australian Marriage Equality (AME) campaign said their website traffic has doubled and the clip trended on Twitter.

AME coordinator Rodney Croome said that Wong’s ”gentle, quiet self-confidence” illustrates the importance of personal stories for making a difference in the same-sex marriage debate.

“People saw beyond the politics to how it actually affects people,” he said.

Two marriage equality bills are before Australia’s parliament, but neither are expected to be passed as the opposition coalition has refused to allow a free vote for its MPs. Last December, the ruling Labor Party allowed its MPs a free vote. Australian Prime Minister Gillard is opposed to marriage equality.

Polls show support for marriage equality now above 60% in Australia. Campaigners say that President Obama’s support for marriage equality has also had a big impact down under.

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Photo credit: Screengrab from Channel Nine

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4:03PM PDT on May 23, 2012

Got cut off!
The last line should have read: We should not ride roughshod over this, even though it seems totally wrong to modern enlightened thinking, but take it into account when legislation is being framed.

3:56PM PDT on May 23, 2012

These are pointless questions Paul. Nobody is saying they are personally harmed or diminished. What they are saying is that a change is being demanded in the structure of society and the traditional concept of family. We are facing a new definition of what marriage is, what family means, what sex is about to say nothing of a brand new definition of what is normal behaviour which is now being taught to our children.

Advanced societies have learned that masculinity and femininity are not fixed entities but a sort of sliding scale right down to the point of being interchangeable. Obviously for many people it seems perfectly normal to have same sex relations that go beyond friendship into physical activity but it is also deep in the human psyche for others to be utterly revolted by the very idea. I see myself as a tolerant and understanding person but get a knotted stomach and a welling up of anger if I see same sex activity on TV. It’s called homophobia and it is a an incredibly difficult feeling to suppress.

It is the same deep gut reaction that drives ignorant yobs to beat up homosexuals and Muslims to perform executions. Religions have been the repositories of human wisdom for centuries before scientific thought was invented. When they tell us it is against the law of God it means a consensus has been arrived at though group mentality over a long period of time. We should not ride roughshod over this, even though it seems totally wrong to modern enlightened thinki

1:58PM PDT on May 23, 2012

I have sent a personalized letter like the one below to everyone from Rick Warren to Pat Boone, to Kurt Cameron. Everyone who speaks out publicly against same sex marriage. So far none have responded. Perhaps if more of us sent such a letter it would call them out.

Dear ****,
Not that it matters, but I am a married, heterosexual man. I love my wife. I enjoy women. I have never had a homosexual experience, nor have I had any desire or urge for one. I say this as a preface to my remarks to show that I have no agenda, or axe to grind.
My wife and I have discussed this issue and find no threat to us, our relationship or our marriage from same sex marriage.
Religionists opposed to same sex Marriage tend to speak in generalities and abstracts. However, they never answer this question, I want to hear one specific instance... How are you, ****, damaged, diminished,
harmed or hurt?
How does it hurt you that two people who love, respect and have committed to sharing a life with one another can have one or the other covered by their health insurance are you damaged, diminished, harmed or hurt?
How does it hurt you that two people who love, respect and have committed to to sharing a life with one another can visit if one is critically ill in the hospital are you damaged, diminished, harmed or hurt?
How does it hurt you that two people who love, respect and have committed to to sharing a life with one another if one can make a choice about the others

10:57PM PDT on May 21, 2012

Joe Hockey is a whiny, useless tub of lard and Penny Wong is one of the more intelligent politicians there is. I think the anti-gay marriage lobby would have a better argument if heterosexual marriage was a raging success. However, it is not. Also, I have been a teacher for over 30 years and have seen the disastrous product of male/female marriage. I don't think 2 men or 2 women could do very much worse.

10:25PM PDT on May 21, 2012

I love that my church is not only celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day, but "The Ones Who Love You" Day the first weekend in June.

5:51PM PDT on May 21, 2012

As long as the child is loved no one should care about the sex of the parents .

5:23PM PDT on May 21, 2012


'I have grave reservations about handing children into the adoptive care of a pair of practicing homosexual men. Kids need a mom.'

No worries. No really! We have plenty of evidence (see Zach Wahls!) and more to show that 2 moms or 2 dads doe just a good a job. check it out. it's true!

4:50PM PDT on May 21, 2012

I was not suggesting that people would feel demeaned but the very concept of what marriage is must be diminished. Removing procreation from the definition of marriage means a devaluation of the state of marriage for everyone. I am not against marriage for gay couples, just remarking that changing the definition of marriage shrinks it from its original state to one of merely legalizing a partnership agreement, a sort of downgrade to make it more inclusive. I will vote for it but I have grave reservations about handing children into the adoptive care of a pair of practicing homosexual men. Kids need a mom.

3:00PM PDT on May 21, 2012

@Mark M.

'The issue is about redefining traditional marriage in such a way as to demean and devalue it.'

This is interesting. The Dutch have had gay marriage the longest, Massachusetts eight years. Is there any evidence that people in those states who have heterosexual marriages feel demeaned and devalued?

1:09PM PDT on May 21, 2012

Brilliant job Penny.

Joe, you will grow out of your prejudice and support gay led families or you won't and be replaced by someone who does.

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