Australian Sen. Bridget McKenzie was forced to defend her opposition to same-sex marriage on national television after her brother, who is openly gay, questioned her for refusing to vote on a measure to legalize marriage equality.
During an appearance on ABC’s Q&A, Sen. McKenzie, who is a member of the conservative National Party, was asked by her brother via video whether a nationwide vote on the issue is worth the cost and potential emotional and mental health outcomes which would likely impact the Aussie LGBTQ community.
“Given the majority of parliamentarians and Australians now support marriage equality, is a $160 million plebiscite necessary, and what impact do you think the debate will have on the emotional well-being of gays and lesbians like me?” Alastair McKenzie asked the panel.
“I think it will only be damaging if all of us as Australians choose to actually not respect each other’s views in this particular debate,” Sen. McKenzie responded. “I believe it is a conscience issue, and that the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. Polls would suggest I’m in the minority.”
“Does that mean that you won’t respect the view of the public if they vote yes for a plebiscite?” Q&A host Tony Jones asked.
“What I think is that there is tension for some MPs like myself on both sides of the aisle, between our desire to respect the sovereign will of the Australian people and our conscience in a representative democracy,” she said. “I do think, Tony, there is a way to resolve that tension, and that is to –”
Last year, Alastair McKenzie characterized his sister’s stance on the same-sex marriage issue “extremely hurtful” in a newspaper op-ed.
“Public statements promoting inequity only serve to perpetuate the isolation and marginalize those youths questioning their sexuality,” he wrote. “Growing up in the country can be tough and isolating, growing up gay in the country in the 1990s was horrific. Given her own story and connection, I had hoped to see a more courageous and compassionate response.”
Watch the exchange below:
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) September 12, 2016