Family First Senate candidate for Queensland Wendy Francis has found herself the centre of a media storm, over comments she made on Twitter yesterday about gay marriage.
This morning my colleague Aaron Lucas did a great phone interview with Ms Francis for our radio station. I thought I would transcribe it and post it here, so readers can evaluate all of her comments/opinions.
You can also listen to the audio of the interview here.
JOURNALIST: We're talking about your comments on Twitter and your website yesterday regarding gay marriage. Can you just sort that out for us?
WENDY: Sure, I'd love to. There's 140 characters in a Twitter, this is just a headline. The headline's come out that gay people slur from me, and that is just incorrect. I am not homophobic. It is one thing to be homosexual, it's another thing altogether then to impose upon children not to have a mother and a father.
We are potentially putting generations of children being brought up without a Mum and a Dad. I spoke out about this when the surrogacy issue first came up. I personally believe that the best environment for a child is to have a mother and father, and if people don't agree that that's the best for a child, I personally think they've got rocks in their head. If we use children in any other social experiment, people would agree with me that it was emotional child abuse. We took children away from their parents in the Stolen Generation, and everybody would agree that was emotional child abuse.
At the moment, we are now changing birth certificates - this is what we can do in Queensland - we change birth certificates to make two Mums, two Dads. And all I came out and said is look, I don't think that is the right track to go down. We have no idea where this experiment is going to end up for our children. We don't know where it will lead, and what I want to stand up and say is what about the rights of the child, we are choosing for them, and they are not being given a chance to have a mother and a father.
JOURNALIST: But saying it's child abuse, that's a bit rich, isn't it?
WENDY: Well I specifically said emotional child abuse, and I did actually remove that from the Twitter because I realised that people have taken it out of context to what I'm saying. They've lost sight of it, because it just kept on going, more and more, and people were making it huger than what I was saying.
If any other social experiment was done on a child that we did not know what the results were going to be, I think you would agree with me that we would class that as emotional child abuse, and that's all I was trying to say.
I certainly didn't intend to make it this huge big storm. The Anglicare CEO Peter Kell, he says exactly the same thing when he's trying to get this bill rejected of same sex marriage as well, because he's saying children need the opportunity to have both a mother and a father.
This is not a gay rights issue. This is all about the best interests of the child.
JOURNALIST: I'm just trying to understand though. I understand you've taken the comment off Twitter, but then why remove the entire statement where it was in context off your website?
WENDY: I did because, we were just, we're a small group of people. Family First is a small group of people, we're a minor party, and the response was overwhelming. We actually could not handle the inundation of response, so we couldn't reply to it all, so I thought the best thing to do was to pull it down. The headlines also that were being generated, it lost sight completely of what it was saying. So I pulled it down because I was absolutely overwhelmed with the response.
JOURNALIST: Do you regret the comments then?
WENDY: Can't say that I regret them, because I still stand by the fact that children... the best interests of the child is to have a mother and father. Life is not perfect and that doesn't always happen. But I just think to go down the track of purposefully deciding that a child will not have a mother or will not have a father is not in the best interests of the child. So I can't retract the comments, but I regret any misinformation or the sensationalism that has happened from the gay lobby, I do regret that.
JOURNALIST: But taking down the statement - 'cause you're saying it was taken out of context and your statement IS in context - I'm still trying to understand why you would remove something that was in context?
WENDY: It was simply because I couldn't handle all the response. You just would not believe the hundreds of people who were trying to get in touch with us over it. I personally have had a process during this campaign of answering everybody who has talked to me or asked me a question. So I have actually responded to every email, I've responded to Facebook, and I could not respond. And so I felt that the best thing for me at the time was to pull it down so I could actually get the situation under control.
And also, it was actually being taken out of context, because it was all sorts of saying, you know, that gay people were child abusers and everything, and I'm not saying that. I'm saying that it's emotional child abuse to do a social experiment on children that we do not know what the end result is going to be. These are our next generation, they are children who are being denied the right to have a mother and a father. And that's all I'm saying, I want to stand up for the rights of the child.
JOURNALIST: I'd imagine that some of those responses from the public would not have been the most friendly?
WENDY: No, the gay lobby really came out very strongly against me.
JOURNALIST: Have you had any threats?
WENDY: Yes, I have.
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to the police?
WENDY: No I haven't, no.
JOURNALIST: Will you be?
WENDY: No, I don't intend to, no.
JOURNALIST: So you're just hoping this matter will go away?
WENDY: I don't feel personally threatened. This is my opinion, and this is their opinion, and I believe they have the right to their opinion as I do. This is Australia. And I have the right to the opinion that I believe the best interests of the child is to have a mum and a dad. And so I'm just saying what my opinion is, and they are very strongly saying what their opinion is. You know, quite strongly. But I don't believe they don't have the right to say that, I believe they have the right to say that, and I don't at the moment feel personally threatened.
JOURNALIST: What's your message to same-sex couples who have children now? We're talking more than 4000 in this country alone. Surely they would be offended by your comments?
WENDY: I'm not sure it would be anything they haven't heard before, because as I say I'm not the only one saying it. Penny Wong is gay herself, and she has come out and said she believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Anglicare has come out quite strongly on the weekend and saying that their understanding is that children need the opportunity to have both a mother and a father. So I don't think that this would be new to anybody, sorry I don't think I'm coming out with anything new.
Both our major parties stand by the Marriage Act saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I'm not actually saying anything new. What I don't really get is that my comments have been taken and just really sent around so wildly. I'm not saying anything the other parties are not saying. The Greens certainly want this to be an agenda item - they want same sex marriage, they want children to be able to be brought up with just two mums or two dads. And for me that is a radical path that Australia needs to avoid. I think the Greens' agenda is absolutely radical, and I will do everything I can to stop that.
JOURNALIST: It's hardly radical though, when we've got many Western countries that have gone down this path now. I mean, we're kind of behind a bit.
WENDY: It's very radical for Australia to decide that a child does not have the right to have a mum. I think that's very radical. I think it's very radical for Australia to decide that a child does not have the right to have a father. That they will have a birth certificate with two mothers and no father. There will be no way of them finding out who their father was, because they don't have one. They have two mothers. I think that's very radical.