Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his ministers cannot escape public backlash over the same-sex marriage ban when fronting the media to talk about their new climate change proposals.

Rudd appeared on the Kyle and Jackie O breakfast program last week, but before he could spruik the climate change Green Paper, 2Day FM newsreader Geoff Field wanted to know why he and his partner Jason were still second class citizens.

All relationships deserve respect, Rudd said. Our position which I said before the election is that marriage is between a man and a woman, and I don’t mean any disrespect to same-sex relationships, but we think the right thing to do is ensure the legal discriminations which exist that the Attorney-General is working on are put behind us.

He, like all his ministers, has doggedly referred to the same-sex marriage ban as a policy or position, but without any explanation for the rationale. This put gay cabinet minister Penny Wong in a difficult position when she was questioned on it during ABC’s Q & A program last week.

My view is that I’m a member of the party, the party has a very clear view, and it’s a view, let’s be frank, that is supported by the vast majority of Australians, Wong said.

I’ve been a member of Parliament for six years now and I’ve put my view forward on a range of issues inside the party room … and the party comes to a position. There are obviously people in the community who don’t share this view.

Wentworth MP Malcolm Turnbull also reiterated his party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Labor Party’s marriage policy was reaffirmed at the national conference last year. Unless the Prime Minister wants to face the same party room difficulties as NSW Premier Morris Iemma, he would not be able to reverse course on same-sex marriage unless he builds consensus at the next national conference scheduled for early 2010.

Field told Sydney Star Observer he promised to bring up the issue as often as he could, while also including a bit of humour as the best way to make progress on the issue.

I think it’s best we keep chipping away at him, he said, adding it was also important to thank the Rudd Government for the fantastic first steps in introducing the same-sex equality legislation on superannuation currently before parliament.

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