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Here's What Tony Abbott Said To An Anti-Marriage Equality Group In The US

"We shouldn't try to change something without understanding it."

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Former prime minister Tony Abbott has urged an anti-marriage equality group in the U.S. to continue fighting against the "erosion" of the tradition family.

Abbott travelled to the U.S. this week to address the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative lobby group focused on opposing abortion, same-sex marriage and preserving religious freedom.

In Abbott's speech, reported by The Australian on Friday, he suggested that same-sex marriage is inextricably linked to the raising of children and the family unit.

“We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family," he said.

“Policymakers shouldn’t be judgmental about people’s personal choices but we can’t be indifferent to the erosion of family given its consequences for the wider community."

Abbott quoted former PM John Howard, saying "the traditional family was the best social welfare system that mankind has ever devised."

Talking personally about his own family, Abbott appealed for "more respect" in the debate, saying families are more complex than they used to be.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

Tony Abbott's sister Christine Forster (R) and her partner Virginia Edwards attend a rally in support of marriage equality in Sydney, Australia.

“Two of my sisters are divorced. One has a new partner. Another has a same-sex partner. To me, my sisters’ partners are first-class members of our extended family.

“The way they live shows their commitment to each other, even though there’s been no ceremony."

“We can’t shirk our responsibilities to the future; but let’s also respect and appreciate values and institutions that have stood the test of time and pass them on, undamaged, when that’s best. That’s a goal we should all be able to share.”

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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