CANBERRA, Australia – Taking a page from U.S. President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is defending his support for marriage equality as his election campaign winds down.
With the national election set for Saturday, Sept. 7, Rudd came under fire from an anti-gay pastor during a Q&A session televised across Australia. Rudd endorsed marriage equality in May. The PM, representing the Labor party, calmly but passionately reaffirmed his belief that same-gender marriage is the right thing to do for Australia, where public polling shows increasing support for equality.
Matt Prater, the pastor who works for the National Christian Radio Network, tried to trip up the PM during the Q&A by asking: ""If you call yourself a Christian, why don't you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible? … They [citizens] won't be voting for you because they're disillusioned because you seem to be chopping and changing your beliefs just to get a popular vote with regards to things like marriage."
Rudd stood his ground, and used the Bible to prove that society continues to change throughout history.
"Well mate, if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition," Rudd said.
"Because St. Paul said in the New Testament, slaves be obedient to your masters. And therefore we should have all fought for the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War."
Rudd then explained how he came to change his views on homosexuality.
"I concluded in my conscience, through an informed conscience, and a Christian conscience, that it was the right thing to do, and let me tell you why,” Rudd said. “Number one, I do not believe people when they are born choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay -- you don't decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is how people are built. And therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong. I don't get that -- I think that is just a completely ill-founded view."
When Rudd noted that the Bible also supported slavery, which is now universally condemned, the audience applauded.
Tony Abbott, a conservative political rival for PM representing the Liberal-National opposition, has been blasted by marriage-rights supporters for his failure to endorse equality. Singer Katy Perry last month criticized Abbott for campaigning for “traditional marriage,” which is code for opposing marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. She used a radio appearance to question Abbott: “Let’s talk about gay marriage,” she said. “Yeah, buddy, that’s right. Love is equal. …I love you as a human being, but I can’t give you my vote then.”
Current polling shows that Abbott has built an 8 percentage point lead over Rudd.