In defence of Penny Wong

Betrayed Wong puts politics before community…. screams the front page of the Sydney Star Observer (SSO). With such a bold statement I was sure there would be journalistic evidence to back this up, or at least a balanced argument. However having read the article it seems to me more of a personal attack on Penny Wong fuelled by dislike rather than biased journalism.

The supposed betrayal was her failure to openly disagree with the Government’s current stand against gay marriage.

As far as I am aware Penny Wong never expressed her ‘personal’ views, she was talking about her view on the ‘position of the party’ lets not forget she is a Government Minister and as such needs to publicly support Government policy to retain her post. Her personal views may well be discussed in private and I have no doubt they have been expressed in Cabinet, but like all Ministers her job is to demonstrate unity and support the Party Policy. The issue here is, does she speak out and therefore lose her ability to influence the future debate from within cabinet or does she work from the inside.

Not speaking out does not mean she cannot work from within the party to help change policy towards same-sex couples and indeed she, along with many others, in the ALP continue to argue in caucus, cabinet and at party conferences for change. Lets not forget the Labour Government have introduced and delivered 85 legislative changes to address inequality for same-sex couples over the last three years. These changes come about because of people like Penny, change takes time, patients and negotiation.

I am sure that in time we will have marriage for same sex couples and I am sure that our best chance of getting that change is via an ALP Government, but it will take us a lot longer to get there if as a “community” we hound out of office those that are best placed to help us achieve this aim.

I know Penny Wong is a lesbian, but for the community to see her as a lesbian first and foremost is in my view hypocritical and in itself discrimination. We cry out not to be ‘defined’ or ‘labelled’ simply by our sexuality, and indeed my homosexuality is just part of who I am it is not what defines me completely. Penny Wong was not given a mandate to “champion gay marriage” nor did she seek election to do so, therefore she should not be completely judged for failing to publicly take on the task.


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