CHILDREN were the main point of contention in a live marriage equality debate between the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton and Australian Marriage Equality’s Tiernan Brady.

Though remarkably civil, the News.com.au hosted event painted two distinct perspectives on the matter.

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“These are legally separate issues, first of all,” Brady said.

Brady emphatically repeated time-and-time again that legalising same-sex marriage was an issue that stood separate from surrogacy and adoption laws – which he saw as misdirection.

He drew on his experiences during the Irish referendum to refute unrelated fears in the periphery.

“We see so many of these red herrings that have been raised and we see afterwards that they’re not true,” Brady said.

He argued Australians are ready for marriage equality and the opposition was complicating the issue.

Shelton’s argument reconciles the concept of marriage and children as one and the same.

“Children don’t get a say in this, whether they are brought into the world through commercial surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation,” Shelton said.

He stated that there were wide implications to the definition of marriage, referring to the gender diversity of the family structure and how every child is entitled to a mother and father.

They were then asked if they agreed that marriage laws only deal with children and not adoption.

“In a purer sense, yes, that’s true,” Shelton said.

Shelton believed it wasn’t that simple, though. He asked Brady if he would be happy with marriage equality without the children aspect.

Brady called this a dishonest question. He had previously discussed that LGBT folks were already raising children and that would continue to happen regardless.

The debate also discussed whether the plebiscite was required at all.

Brady detailed the key difference to the campaign in Ireland, a country that had to have a referendum – it was a legal requirement. Things were different in Australia. He argued in favour of a free vote.

“This is about real people who have to live through this debate about their lives,” Brady said.

He spoke about the damage that comes with being judged and having others decide if their relationship is somewhat lesser, saying that was a really hard thing to endure.

Shelton was emphatic that all Australians should have a say on the matter.

He also thought the marriage equality debate had been one-sided over the past decade, saying that Australia could dig a little deeper and allow both sides to speak without branding opponents bigots.

You can watch the whole debate here:

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