Australian PM To Host Dinner For Lesbians And Gays


Salon Staff
February 21, 2012 11:18AM (UTC)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Prime Minister Julia Gillard, an opponent of same sex-marriage, will host a meal for two lesbian couples and a pair of gay men at her official residence on Tuesday after an Australian activist group won a charity auction.

The couples will use the dinner in the national capital of Canberra to lobby the prime minister to allow gay marriage.

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The 12-year-old son of one of the women, Matthew Miller, will present Gillard with flowers and two letters explaining why he and his brother Dylan, aged 9, would like their biological mother Sandy Miller, 40, to marry the other woman whom they call their mother, Louise Bucke, 36. But the Sydney-based boys won't stay for dinner.

"Since they're not allowed to get married, they're basically being called not normal and we're not known as a proper family," Matthew Miller told The Associated Press at a function at Parliament House before the dinner.

Other guests are Brisbane academic Sharon Dane, 54, who married her wife Elaine Crump, 53, in Canada in a ceremony that is not recognized in Australia.

Gay couple Steve Russell, 51, and John Dini, 29, decided against marrying overseas because it would carry no weight in Australia. While they could have a civil union recognized under state law in their hometown of Melbourne, they don't regard that as equivalent to marriage.

The activist group GetUp! paid 31,000 Australian dollars ($33,270) for the dinner when they won a bidding war against a Christian lobby group at the Press Gallery of Australia annual charity ball in June last year.

Gillard's Labor Party in December lifted its long-standing opposition to gay marriage, and three separate bills have been introduced to Parliament that would change the law which states that only a man and woman can marry.

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But Gillard remains opposed to gay marriage, and it is unclear whether any bill would attract sufficient support to enable same-sex couples to marry. No date has been set for a vote in Parliament on gay marriage.

Polls show that most Australians support gay marriage, but the conservative opposition coalition and many government lawmakers remain opposed.

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