Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed the largest anti-gay legal advocacy group in the US on
Abott told the Alliance Defending Freedom that he would like to see the institution of marriage pass ‘undamaged’ to future generations.
‘We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always and everywhere been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family,’ he said.
Abbott insisted that his lesbian sister’s partner was a ‘first class’ member of their extended family, yet still opposed her marrying in officially.
‘Marriage, actually, was never just about two people who love each other. Siblings love each other. Parents love their children and vice versa. Friends can love each other. You don’t need to be married to love someone,’ he said.
‘It’s only in recent times, that marriage has been about romantic love. Marriage arose as a way of dealing with human imperfection. It was to keep men more committed and less likely to abandon their wives and children – and I doubt that we have become so flawless that this no longer matters.’
Abbott continued: ‘In Australia, just a decade ago, almost unanimously, the parliament affirmed that marriage was between a man and a woman.
‘If we really think it best, we could change the definition of marriage in Australia, as it has already been changed in countries like Britain and New Zealand. Indeed, around the world, some 17 countries now provide for same sex marriage. But 176 don’t – and few of them are likely to change any time soon.
‘Now, I know that numbers aren’t the only test – but it’s hardly self-evident that the 17 that have changed are right and that all the others are wrong.’
The former trainee Catholic priest then said marriage gay advocates were asking for too much.
‘Not long ago, most gay activists rejected marriage as an oppressive institution. Now, they demand as their right what they recently scorned; they demand what was unimaginable in all previous times and still is in most places.
‘They are seeking what has never been and expecting others to surrender what always has. It’s a massive ask; for me, an ask too far.’
But Abbot did say gay marriage would be legalized if the Australian public wanted it.
‘As prime minister, I made the decision that it would be easier for Australians who feel strongly about same sex marriage to accept a decision – either way – if it were made by the whole people and not just by the parliament,’ he said.
‘So after the next election, if the government is returned, MPs who support same sex marriage will be asked to finalize a bill to make it legal, along with protections for people and for religions that disagree. That bill will then be put to the people at a plebiscite.
‘This is the best way to decide something that’s so important but so personal: it’s to let the people decide so that the decision, whichever way it goes, will have their authority.’