South Australian senators Penny Wong and Cory Bernardi went head-to-head on marriage equality at the National Press Club in Canberra today.
Wong, the opposition leader in the Senate, is gay and a strident supporter of same-sex marriage. She has been pushing for reform on the issue within the Labor party for years.
Bernardi, a government backbencher, is just as enthusiastically opposed. A former parliamentary secretary, he was forced to resign after comments linking same-sex marriage to bestiality.
So, what happens when two of parliament's most outspoken same-sex marriage contenders meet in a highly-anticipated, nationally-televised debate?
1. Wong listed all the things that will or won't happen if marriage equality is legislated.
"The sun will rise, heterosexual marriages won't crumble, 3-year-olds will still want more ice-cream than is good for them."
2. Cory Bernardi called the same-sex marriage campaign a "textbook propaganda campaign".
3. And then denied ever saying that same-sex marriage would lead to bestiality or polygamy. (He said it.)
"I never said it would lead to that, I merely said that if we redefine marriage it would lead to further calls for redefinition and for other relationship types to be in there," Bernardi said.
He then proceeded to endorse the argument anyway, saying that other countries were already well on the way to allowing multiple-member marriages.
4. Then, Wong gave Bernardi a guarantee that she would stand alongside him to stop bestiality being recognised in law.
(Because when you're gay, you need to clarify that you don't think bestiality is tops.)
5. Bernardi argued that marriage equality prioritises the desires of adults over the rights of children.
"If you grant the right to marry for same-sex couples one can't deny their right to a family, which immediately impacts the right of a child," Bernardi argued.
Legalising same-sex marriage would mean "deliberately destroying" children's links to their biological parents, he said.
6. Wong said same-sex couples are already raising kids, and that it's a different question to marriage equality.
"I think children need to be loved and nurtured, treated with fairness and firmness," she said.
"I think that if we want to have a discussion about how we try and support all families to bring their children up in that way I'm happy to have that discussion, but that's a very different proposition to saying that we have to exclude some people from the institution of marriage."
7. Bernardi expressed concern for florists, photographers and bakers who might refuse to serve same-sex couples.
After same-sex marriage is legalised, the process of "eroding the rights of others" will begin, said Bernardi.
"Florists, photographers and bakers, they've been taken to court or forced to pay thousands in fines [in other countries] for exercising their right not to act contrary to their conscience."
8. And Wong was just kinda like... if a baker hates gays and lesbians we probably just wouldn't go there to get a cake for our big happy day but whatever IDK.
9. Bernardi doled out a shady response when Wong said she didn't support polygamy.
10. Wong was ALL OVER Bernardi on how he marries (pardon the pun) his liberalism and his opposition to a free vote for the Liberal party.
Their conversation went something like this:
Wong: If you're a real liberal, why don't you support a conscience vote?
Bernardi: In the Liberal party, you can vote against party policy without being kicked out.
Wong: Actually, right now you can do that in the Labor party too with same-sex marriage.
Bernardi: We have principles as a party, and people support them when they join the party.
Wong: So you believe in liberalism unless you disagree with the principles?
Bernardi: The Labor party is dogmatic.
Moderator: Let's move on.
11. Bernardi referred to the institution of marriage as a club that same-sex couples want to enter.
"Marriage has always been defined as between a man and a woman and we're seeking to redefine it, because they want entry into that club."
12. The duelling pair found common ground... on thinking that nothing is inevitable. Oh, and they're both from Adelaide.
13. The final takeout, according to Twitter?
14. So after an hour of fierce debate, if there’s one thing to take away, it's this:
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.