Australian finance minister Penny Wong, the first openly gay member of the federal cabinet, announced that she and her partner are expecting a baby, a development with potential to affect the dynamics of the marriage equality debate.
The Australian Associated Press reports that Wong’s partner Sophie Allouache is expected to give birth to the baby conceived through in vitro fertilization in December, around the same time the Australian Labor Party is scheduled to discuss marriage equality at its annual conference.
In a statement released Tuesday, Wong said, "Like any expecting parents, the prospect of welcoming this child into our lives fills us both with joy. We are extremely grateful to our IVF service and staff, and to our donor, for giving us the opportunity to raise a child together."
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who believes that marriage should be restricted to unions between men and women, congratulated the couple on Tuesday and responded to a question about her position, according to the AAP. The prime minister’s stance puts her at odds with many in her own party, including most state branches of Labor, where the Tasmanian Labor Party reasserted its support for marriage equality over the past weekend.
"Clearly there are strong views about same-sex marriage in the community," she said. "There are strong views in the political party I lead, and we'll have a debate at national conference about those strongly held views. I've made my views clear."
Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop also congratulated Wong and Allouache, The Courier reports that far-right New South Wales MP Fred Nile criticized their announcement as “setting a bad example” for Australians.
Wong sided with Gillard in opposing marriage equality until last November, when she announced her support.
In a totally unrelated video watch Wong in action in Parliament: