IN 2004, when the Parliament made the decision to amend the Marriage Act to exclude gay and lesbian Australians, I stood and told the Liberal Party Room that I didn't understand why we needed to do this.
Hadn't gay and lesbian Australians been through enough? Why did we have to kick them on their way out the door? To me it didn't make sense. Denying any Australian equal status and the same level of dignity is in my mind completely un-Australian.
When the discussion from the Party Room hit the media, I was labelled in one article as a "fiercely heterosexual, Far North Queensland, crocodile-farming, bull-catching Liberal". The question was asked; how could I be an active supporter of gay rights?
The response from those early articles was overwhelming - not so much from the gay community but rather the family and friends of gay Australians. They pointed out that if someone of my background was prepared to support their gay relative or friend, they wanted to come out in support too. I realised at that time the strength of my advocacy.
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