Andrews lays down the Law

Andrews lays down the Law

The wife of Opposition Families, Housing and Human Services spokesman Kevin Andrews publicly attacked a gay writer at the Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) conference on family diversity in Melbourne.

In front of several people last week, Margaret Andrews told writer Benjamin Law, following an address he gave at the conference, that she was disgusted by his speech.

“I gave a 15-minute speech about having pride in diversity, no matter what background you come from,” Law told Sydney Star Observer.

“She basically said my speech was disgusting, that it was an attack on a family like hers.

“She … then proceeded to attack me, in quite a personal way, saying if she was my mother she would be ashamed of me, and that I hope I was happy with myself, exploiting my family and making money off them, through this book that I’d written [The Family Law].”

Law said he was shaken after the confrontation, but laughed it off.

“My point was, the norm in Australia was changing, I cited a few stats like marriage rates were the lowest ever, divorce rates were up, but so were co-habitating couples, childless couples, shared and mixed families and same-sex parents as well,” Law said.

“It bugs me when politicians or advocacy groups use the term ‘family values’, but what they’re really talking about is a narrow set of values, and a very particular interpretation of what the family is or should be.”

Following the incident, FRSA executive director Samantha Page told SSO the FRSA board had been “greatly disappointed” to hear Andrews had verbally attacked Law.

“There was certainly nothing offensive in his speech in any way and we appreciate him for sharing his story with us and doing it so eloquently,” Page said.

When SSO contacted Andrews she said had not taken offense to Law’s speech, and claimed his account of the heated exchange was “an embellishment”.

“I did go out and speak to him, after he gave his address, I simply pointed out there was another view to the one he was expressing” she said.

“I was talking about family, I didn’t use the word gay, gay didn’t come into it at all. I pointed out there was another view about family life to the one he was putting forward.”

Andrews was asked several times which part of Law’s address she didn’t agree with, but she declined to comment.

The three-day FRSA conference also included former High Court judge Michael Kirby, who spoke in favour of same-sex marriage in Australia.

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12 responses to “Andrews lays down the Law”

  1. I have just read the transcript of his speech.
    I am completely baffled at what set her off. There is nothing radical in it. The basic message is that all families struggle and children do better when divesity is recognised and accepted.
    My guess is that Ben hit a raw nerve when he said:”Families that seem visibly “functional” give me the creeps. I’m always wondering: “What are you hiding?” So Margaret what’s in your family closet?

  2. ben- The vile way you are attacking this man is disgusting.

    You do not help the Conservative cause by expecting the Victim of the vile attack to receive further attacks.

    Now I think clearly the Mr and Mrs Andrews has a history with people who are not white and who might have a different sexuality.

    I see no reason why Ben Law should subject himself to further hate. A full page apology by the Liberal Party is what is needed in all major newspapers.

    This behavior by a Liberal Party Politician’s wife has from what I can see, and according to talk back radio, left many people rightfully outraged.

  3. Why talk over the issues with vile bigots? I for one don’t reach out to Tory filth who hate gays and have more than enough free speech (and use it to denigrate gay people at Australian Family Association covens and the like).

    Benjamin Law was too soft on the likes of Andrews. The gay community needs to be ruthless towards Tories – otherwise we just get stepped on.

  4. This little twerp attacks someone in the press as if he is a martyr. His ad hominen attack is typical of the oversensitive gay campaigner who failed to shed light on the topic at the expense of a silly wound up non-entity. The gay community needs to reach out to such people, not ridicule them. Ben Law should have the courage of his convictions to pick up the phone and call Andrews to talk the issues over.

  5. @David Braybrooke

    The difference between Dave and Margaret Andrews is that Ms Andrews is relatively well-known and the wife of a politician. Of course she has the right to be as ignorant and prejudiced as she likes but don’t then attack someone for criticising her. She deserves to be publicly shamed for her bigotry if she did, in fact, make the statements that Ben Law claims she did.

    If a politician in Australia is married to someone who thinks the parents of gay people should be ashamed of them then, as a voter, I want to know. Even if I was ever ready to vote for the coalition, I would simply never vote for someone who was such a bigot, or who married such a bigot. Like it or not, a politician’s wife having a homophobic rant at a gay author is news-worthy. No one’s saying she had no right to make the comments but it’s everyone else’s right to shame her for them.

    If her comments had been against interracial marriage and interracial families, no one would be defending her, even though the exact same arguments were once proposed by people just like her. One day, a few generations from now, Australians will look back, completely ashamed of our treatment of gays, in the way so many now feel about historical treatment of racial minorities.

  6. Here you have a situation where a speech about diversity was given, the CEO who organized the event said there was no offensive material in the speech, but we are told Margarat Andrews, wife a of a politician with from what I can see is a very dubious past on human rights abuses, went out of her way to personally abuse the speaker who of course was not white. History repeats itself?

    Now I think blaming the victim of that torrent of abuse is the act of total coward. I think to try and put the spin ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’ is equally repugnant and abhorrent. To justify homophobic and racist acts by blaming the victim is an act of a Nazi in my view. It was after all the Nazi’s who blamed people who were Jewish for being Jewish, and blamed GLBTQI people for being the way they are before killing them.

    Yes the Extreme Right or “the down trodden” are not for me. I think they foul the air good people breathe with such vile acts of hate.

    Perhaps the “down trodden” might care to think a bit if they have that capacity before putting spin on what I think are acts of hate.

  7. Margaret Andrews, apart from being married to Kevin Andrews, what precisely else is your problem? If you don’t like gay relationships and different families, then DON’T HAVE ONE & SHUT THE FUCK UP. Just keep in mind that rude is what rude gets.

  8. “She was disgusted with my speech” – “that it (the speech) was an attack upon a family like hers.

    This is evidence that leaders in the heterosexual community still consider the existance of gays and reports of our existance as a disgusting thing and an attack upon their families.

    Our existance and reports of our existance are an attack upon heterosexual families.

    We are always only one step away from being rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps – to protect heterosexual society.

  9. Perhaps Margaret Andrews was unwise to state her opinion in the forum described but she is certainly entitled to her say. It seems to me that any perceived disagreement or difference of opinion to that of the ‘downtrodden’ left gets lambasted as being particularly prejudicial. @Dave (above), your comment about Mrs Andrews perhaps ‘feeling more comfortable at a Ku Klux Klan gathering’ feels every bit as offensive as what her supposed misstep was. As the old saying goes, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. Perhaps both Benjamin Laws and Margaret Andrews could try harder to grasp one another’s perspective a little more and serve as an example of bipartisan tolerance.

  10. If I was Mrs Andrews I would be so ashamed. The detention of people without charge. The abolition of basic freedoms for no other reason then race or sexuality. I saw the way they treated that Doctor. He was not white. He had committed no crime. His clothes were taken. He was stripped and penetrated. He could not speak to anyone for over a week. I saw the laws introduced to oppress people who were gay and lesbian and deny them the right to be married. I would be careful if I was Mrs Andrews about calling good people shameful who have committed no crime. There seems to be a pattern of behavior in the Liberal Party.

    Perhaps she would feel more comfortable at a Klu Klux Klan gathering then a civilized conference.