Gay siblings of two prominent Australians who oppose gay marriage speak out


Participants march during the 34th annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney on March 5, 2011.


Greg Wood

The decision by Australia's ruling party to support gay marriage is proving more divisive — and for supporters, arguably more gratifying — than anticipated.

And while the issue a person's right to legally marry another — of any gender, race or creed — should never be viewed as entertainment, Down Under has rather enjoyed seeing controversial public figures squirm for stances they've taken that alienate, vilify or discriminate against others.

This week, for the second time, the sibling of a prominent opponent of gay marriage has taken a very opposite — and very public — stance.

Stephanie Bolt, sister of right-wing News Corp. blogger Andrew Bolt (he would say "conservative") reportedly came out in defense of gay marriage on the Crikey website.

Under the headline "Bolt: I want marriage equality for all," Bolt writes that she was a lesbian who was married to her partner under Canadian law.

"It may seem naive, but having that certificate in my hand made me untouchable, secure, normal, and for those wonderful few weeks, I could drop the shield," she reportedly said. "It's disappointing beyond measure that my brother and others who share his views don't wish that for me and everyone else like me."

Recent consumers of Australian news and views would better know Andrew Bolt for his hardline stances on topics such as asylum seekers (anti), welfare payments to Aborigines (anti) and Australia's new carbon tax targeting big mining companies (anti).

His most-recent brush with infamy came when Australia's Federal Court ruled that he'd breached the Racial Discrimination Act in 2009 by implying, in articles written for the Murdoch press, that light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain.

When Labor voted at its annual conference a week ago to support gay marriage, Bolt went on the attack, though "not because he's anti-gay," wrote Matthew Knott in the Power Index.  

Bolt has close friends who have been in a gay relationship for 40 years and he's a supporter of same-sex civil unions. But he's worried about what may come next if gay marriage becomes law: polygamy.

Bolt wrote in his column: "When you destroy the traditional idea of a marriage being between a man and a woman, in favor of a union between any two consenting adults, you invite more changes. Why stop at two? Why not also 'respect' unions between a man and two women? After all, polygamy has what same sex marriage does not - religious backing in Islam, and historical precedents everywhere. Once you start smashing, where do you stop?"

Stephanie Bolt said that notwithstanding her brother's views, she had "received respect and love from people important to me as I made those first tentative steps out of the closet."

Meanwhile, back in August, independent Federal lawmaker Bob Katter received an unexpected (but for many, not unwelcome) response to his comment that same-sex marriage "deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed."

His gay half brother, Karl Katter, appeared on Australia's most-watched public news network, Channel Ten, calling his brother's comments "hurtful" and "dangerous."

Another reason for Aussies to be thankful they don't celebrate Thanksgiving?