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We Already Have Children: Penny Wong Hits Back At Marriage Equality Opponents

"These are people in search of an argument."

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Senator Penny Wong has hit back at marriage equality opponents, labelling their arguments "illogical and offensive" and reminding them that many same-sex couples already raise children.

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Penny Wong, the Australian shadow minister for trade and leader of the opposition in the Senate.

Wong, who has two children with her partner, Sophie Allouache, told the ABC that the arguments of marriage equality opponents denigrate families like her own.

"I find it sad that senior politicians in this country seem to want to tell my children and children of other same-sex couples that somehow they're not normal," she said.

"Does anyone believe that preventing marriage equality for more years is going to prevent same-sex couples from having kids?"

Wong had a strong message for employment minister Eric Abetz, who has been outspoken in his opposition to marriage equality over the past week.

"Memo to Eric: We've already got children," she said. "All you're doing is saying the parents can't be married."

Throughout last week, Abetz and other government MPs spoke out forcefully against marriage equality after news of a cross-party bill was revealed.

Among the various arguments presented, senior government MPs expressed concern that marriage equality was not in the best interests of children, that Australia's Asian neighbours would disapprove, and the door would be opened for polygamous marriages.

Sophie and I are delighted to announce the arrival of Hannah, a sister to Alexandra. Everyone is doing well.

Wong also labelled the recent discussion about whether Australia's Asian neighbours would disapprove of marriage equality an "inventive new excuse".

Those opposed to the reform are "people in search of an argument", she said.

She added: "People who oppose marriage equality, they fundamentally are saying to Australians, 'Look, I just think we should discriminate against gay people. That's my view.'

"But because that's no longer a powerful argument in the comunity, we see a whole range of new excuses developed."

She also said she was concerned about how young LGBTI Australians might be responding to the debate.

"I always try to think of young people around Australia who might still be struggling with who they are, might be in the process of coming out, or having just come out, and how it is for them to hear some of the ways in which those who oppose marriage equality debate this issue," she said.

"It's not a positive experience."

Employment minister Eric Abetz has led a conservative backlash to the proposed reform in the past week.

Abetz opposes marriage equality on various grounds, including not wanting to be out of step with Australia's Asian neighbours when it comes to social policy, the rights of children, concern that personal freedoms will be restricted, and a fear of polygamy.

On the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday, agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce agreed with Abetz, saying some Asian countries would view marriage equality in Australia as a "decadence".

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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