|Bob Hawke in his younger years|
Prompted by the host of the event, former TV presenter Ray Martin, John Howard refused to change his position on same-sex marriage but Hawke was quoted as saying:
'I feel very deeply on all issues of discrimination, and in this area of sexual discrimination it just needs to be said straightforwardly -- you can be born with curly hair, you can be born with this gene-disposition towards homosexuality. If a person is born that way and they want to have the rights of the institutions of our society, they should have them.'
In her coverage of the same event for GAYSTAR NEWS, Anna Leach cites Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome, who welcomes the support of the former PM and contrasts Hawke's position with that of current Labor PM, Julia Gillard, which he finds deeply disappointing.
In June, Gillard told same-sex marriage campaigners that her own relationship proved that you don't need marriage to show commitment. (Gillard lives with her partner Tim Mathieson but they have not married.) Her example failed to convince campaigners who pointed out that she had the choice whether or not to marry, while same-sex couples don't have the same choice under law.
Anna Leach also raised the comments allegedly made by another former Labor PM, now back-bencher Kevin Rudd, in July, that Gillard's position on the issue stems from a deal with the Christian right of her party to guarantee their support of her leadership. If that were true, Gillard would have felt quite safe in allowing a conscience vote on her side of the House when it came up in Parliament, knowing that enough conservative Labor members would vote against it and the proposed changes to the Marriage Act would fail. Rudd later denied making the suggestion.