As a new law banning gay marriage raced through the Senate yesterday, Andrew Bartlett stood on the floor of the chamber choking back tears.
Overcome as he tried to read speech notes contemplating how he would have felt if he had been banned from marrying his wife, Julie, the Democrats leader spoke instead of how the new laws might hurt gay teenagers contemplating suicide.
'It offends me so much - it is so disgusting, this legislation,' he said. 'It can not only be hurtful - it can be fatal.'
Emotions were just as strong on the other side, with Nationals senator Ron Boswell saying the overwhelming majority of Australians wanted marriage preserved as an institution between a man and a woman.
'The people that elected me feel very strongly about this issue,' he said.
The emotional debate came after the Government reversed its bid to prioritise a ban on gay marriage above new terrorism laws. After The Age asked on Thursday whether the Government thought gay couples were a greater threat to Australia than terrorists, tacticians reorganised the Senate agenda yesterday to pass the anti-terrorism laws first.
Gee it's a great feeling knowing that rights are safe in the bosom of Australia's parliament and we don't need a bill of rights. I mean it's not as if Labor would trade off anyone's rights for mere electoral gain.
I suppose I still want Labor to win. Maybe all the religious right voters streaming into the Labor column will compensate for a lot of very angry perverts. Not.