Vocal same-sex marriage opposer Cory Bernardi would not stand in the way of popular opinion if it supported marriage equality.
Senator Bernardi and Senator Penny Wong – both outspoken advocates to their side of the gay marriage argument – took to the stage at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
Topics included the possibility of a public vote, children, abiding by party policy and the role of religion.
Opening the debate, Senator Wong, speaking for same-sex marriage, said it should not be defined on religious grounds.
“Remember what we are proposing does not mandate marriage in our religious institutions, it relates only to civil marriage,” she said.
The proposition of defining marriage by the “religious tenants of some others” flies in the face of “philosophical and legal understanding” of secularism, according to Senator Wong.
But according to Senator Bernardi, marriage is the culmination of a “millennia of lived experiences”, calling marriage equality a “masterpiece of sloganeering” with no basis in reality.
“It was not invented, marriage simply is,” he said.
Both Senators were also asked for their opinions on holding a referendum.
Although clarifying he was not advocating for a public vote, Senator Bernardi said he would not stand in the way of popular opinion.
“Quite frankly if there were a majority of the states and a majority of the people that said that is what we want, we want to redefine marriage to open up to same-sex couples, who am I to argue with that,” he said.