Millie Fontana, 24, was raised by a lesbian couple and is this week at the federal parliament to talk about same-sex marriage. But unlike the contingent of kids from same-sex families who travelled to Canberra last month, Fontana is there to argue against her mothers being able to marry.
Fontana is visiting Canberra with the hard-right Australian Christian Lobby, one of the leading groups in the "no" camp.
Her visit coincides with much debate around the same-sex marriage plebiscite. Tomorrow, Labor is expected to ensure the controversial policy dies in the senate by announcing its official opposition to the bill.
But unusually, neither Fontana nor the Australian Christian Lobby has organised a single meeting for her time in Canberra.
"I’ve just come here. My plan is to be a presence, and see who will meet with me. That’s literally all I’m doing here," she told BuzzFeed News.
Fontana describes herself as a "child's rights activist" and said her concerns are not about adults marrying.
"I don’t overly care about marriage in itself, in terms of this debate. I care about how it potentially affects children," she said.
Fontana's major argument is that same-sex marriage would bring about commercial surrogacy, which is presently banned across Australia.
"Commercial surrogacy is toxic in the way it exploits women and children," she said. "There’s a demand for this service, and we’ll see an uprising in the use of surrogacy because that’s the only way men can create a family."
Pressed on exactly how the passage of same-sex marriage would legally trigger commercial surrogacy in Australia, Fontana said: "It’s not that it will, but it’s a potential".
She also believes same-sex families fly under the legal radar.
"There’s always the bragging right that 'We already have families'," she said. "The problem is, the rainbow families have been established outside of the law."
In Australia, marriage is governed by the federal Marriage Act, while parenting laws are in the hands of the states.
Although laws differ across borders, same-sex parents can legally have children by IVF and other reproductive technologies, altruistic surrogacy, and adoption in various Australian states.
Fontana's travel and accommodation in Canberra was paid for by the Australian Christian Lobby. ACL managing director Lyle Shelton is also with her at parliament.
Fontana, an atheist, said she is "very grateful" for the platform the group is giving her.
However, while the two sing from the same songsheet on commercial surrogacy and the Safe Schools Coalition (Fontana described the anti-bullying program as "highly sexualised content"), Fontana said she disagrees with the ACL on same-sex couple adoption, which she supports.
"There was no elective choice to remove a parent from [a child], it’s a loving gay couple who’s accepted [the child] into their family," she said.
Fontana is one of a few children of same-sex couples who are active in helping groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby argue against same-sex marriage.
She appeared in a newspaper advertisement for the Australian Marriage Forum last year, alongside Americans Katy Faust and Heather Barwick.
Faust, who runs a blog called "Ask the Bigot", travelled to Canberra last year to advocate against same-sex marriage.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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