Australia’s Worst Lesbian Sen. Penny Wong Finally Breaks With PM Julia Gillard To Support Gay Marriage

Do we get to stop calling Australia’s lesbian Sen. Penny Wrong, the nation’s finance minister, a quisling now that she’s finally come out in support of same-sex marriage? After toeing the line of Australian Labor Party boss Julia Gillard, the prime minister, Wong has finally come out in support of legalizing same-sex marriage and wants her party to change its own policy. Took long enough.

Wong, the nation’s first openly lesbian and Asian-born cabinet minister, has long defended Gillard’s anti-gay stance on marriage in a disgusting betrayal of her own community. She went so far as to claim that “by virtue of who I am, prejudice and discrimination and things I have first-hand knowledge of,” so we should somehow respect her support of marriage discrimination because hey, she’s dealt with discrimination.

It was bullshit. And now she’s all but admitting it, the Australian reports:

Senator Wong today backed a motion passed at the ALP conference in South Australia for a federal policy change in favour of gay marriage. The openly gay senator from South Australia seconded an amended motion by the Florey sub-branch at today’s conference. In doing so, she broke her silence over the national debate on equal marriage rights with a deeply personal speech about the need for the Labor Party to respect the principles of equality. […]

Senator Wong, a Left factional ally of the Prime Minister, shifted her public position by announcing she would advocate at national conference for a policy change “to support equality including in relation to marriage for same sex couples”.

“Like many in this room, I do know what it is like to be a subject of prejudice,” Senator Wong said, noting she joined the ALP because it stood for equality and had historically worked against discrimination. “There has been some commentary which has confused my position of not commenting publicly on this issue with my position on the actual issue itself. I have been privileged and honoured, not only of being a member of our party, but an elected member of the federal parliament and of the federal Labor cabinet. I have had the opportunity to advocate for equality at the highest levels of our party and within our party processes, as I do today. And I will do so again at the next national conference. Talking about change is not the same as delivering it,” Senator Wong said. This state was the first state in this nation to decriminalise homosexuality, why should we now resile from expressing our views, our support for the principles of equality here today?”

Sound familiar? It should, because Wong used those same lines to once explain why she wouldn’t break with the Labor Party to support her gay peers.

So what changed? Politics, of course. There has been growing pressure from the Greens in particular to vote on gay marriage, an increase in state territories embracing marriage, and support from colleagues like Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek.

And while it’s simply wonderful to see any politician supporting gay marriage, it’s also simply disgusting to see elected officials turn their backs on the rights of their own community “for the good of the party.”

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  • MikeE

    (psst: it’s “toeing” the line… as in not letting your toes pass an imaginary line on the floor)

    It’s about time she changed her stance.
    It’s incredibly stupid having gay people in office who end up being enemies to the gay community.

  • Carlos

    Geezzzz!! Finally!!!

  • James

    *sigh* Queerty you really don’t get it, do you. Penny Wong understands how Australian politics works and so she works within the confines of the system she is in.

    In the Labor party, the one thing that can guarantee you a swift exit from any kind of platform of political potency is party disloyalty. As an openly gay senator and cabinet minister, she has supported many initiatives to further gay rights in Australia and achieved quite a few of them as well.

    The one thing she was not willing to do is publicly bash her own party to the media two weeks before a federal election. That doesn’t make her a quisling, traitor or any of the horrible bullying names you have called her in the past. In fact I would think it only fair. She has supported gay rights causes, but in a way that can actually change thinges. ie. from within the party, trying at national caucus meetings to get the party to change its position.

    As a queer South Australian, Penny Wong has my full support, and I congratulate her on what she has just achieved for us in this state. I can only hope that those ignorant of the differences between Australian and American politics can stop bullying her for five minutes and realise that she has been an ally all along, just one that does her best work from behind the scenes.

  • InscrutableTed

    Queerty, do you understand the difference between backing a motion at an ALP conference and backing a motion in parliament?

    She hasn’t broken ranks with her party. This vote took place at a conference where members of the party decide the party’s policies. It doesn’t mean that she’s going to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in parliament. She’ll continue to tow the party-line in parliament.

    Her stance hasn’t changed.

  • ewe

    Whatever her process and path was, i like what she is saying now and hopefully her words will pass legislation.

  • Jean

    Contrary to some views, Wong has been very careful to never say that she personally thought same-sex marriage was wrong, she always said things like “the government’s position is…”. This was a clear indication of what her own views always were to those who bothered to look (and who know that Labor Cabinet Ministers are bound by government policy). Wong has long played a central role in fighting for policies on same-sex law reform within the Labor Party and this is just the latest example. We need people who fight for change within the Labor Party (and within cabinet)as well as people who (rightly) criticise Labor policies from the outside. How would it have helped the gay movement if Wong had lost her cabinet position or her place on the SA Senate ticket? How would losing her position and vote help us to change Labor policy? In fact, Wong has been an incredibly effective campaigner for gay and lesbian rights (think of the 2008 reforms) and it is about time this was more widely acknowledged! Jean.

  • James

    @Jean: Hear Hear! If only more people could look at the medicare reforms, the spousal recognition for same sex adoption cases, gov’t pensions and their accomanying spousal benefits etc., and the integral role Wong has played in getting all of them through in 2008 and recognise the tactic of “Losing the battle in order to win the war” as a savvy tactic and not a betrayal, perhaps we would have got here sooner.

  • steve

    Meh whatever

    I don’t respect Penny at all. She may be doing ‘what she needs to do’ in order to stay within ranks of the party but that doesn’t mean i need to respect her past on this issue

    My total respect goes to Bob Brown. Openly gay and champing the cause from the beginning.

    And hey, although i may like the greens i’m still an ALP supporter. I also quite like the Red Queen despite her view on this issue.

    Rant over

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