Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has denied claims by three witnesses that he told them that same-sex marriage would have been legalized if he was still prime minister, and that the current prime minister, Julia Gillard, got her job through a deal with the Christian right of her party to oppose same-sex marriage
Rudd, who was deposed by his Australian Labor Party colleagues in favor of Gillard in June of 2010, denied making the comments to former Australian Medical Association head Kerryn Phelps and wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps, which were also heard by marriage equality campaigner Geoff Thomas.
‘He absolutely said that if he was prime minister [it] would have gone through,’ Stricker-Phelps told The Sun Herald newspaper, ‘We couldn’t believe how open and forthright he was.’
Thomas, a Vietnam veteran and plumber who has been campaigning for same-sex marriage since his son came out, corroborated what Phelps had told the newspaper.
‘I hope you know if I was prime minister this would be law … The reason Julia Gillard is in power is because of a deal she did with the Australian Christian Lobby and [Catholic union leader] Joe De Bruyn,’ Thomas said he had heard Rudd say.
Thomas told the Sun Herald that Rudd had told him that Gillard, who is an unmarried atheist in a long term relationship, had supported marriage equality in cabinet before becoming prime minister but had since changed her tune for political reasons.
Gillard has consistently said she opposes same-sex marriage since becoming prime minister, telling a forum hosted by Google as recently as yesterday that her opposition was because marriage had a special cultural status, but then said same-sex relationships were equally valued.
‘I don’t think that heterosexual relationships are more valued than same-sex relationships,’ Gillard said.
‘I think people who are in loving, committed relationships, all of those relationships should be valued. I think my relationship should be valued and I’m not married.’
Gillard has promised a conscience vote on the issue before the end of the year but there are not enough votes to pass a bill on the issue on the Government benches so some Opposition votes would also be needed.
But Opposition leader Tony Abbott will not allow his frontbench a conscience vote on the issue which will tie up key votes.
The comments were allegedly made by Rudd at the Labor Party’s National Convention in Sydney in December last year.
Rudd made an appearance at a function during the convention put on by Rainbow Labor, the party’s LGBT caucus.
But a spokeswoman for the former prime minister denied he had made the comments.
‘The content of the reported conversations contained in your inquiry is not accurate, including your references to cabinet discussions, which, as a matter of principle, Mr Rudd does not comment on,’ she told the Sun Herald.