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At the heart of a family is love, not what genitals people have.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (the small mercy in that title being the word former) is at it again.

He’s off to tell a group of Americans with their heads in the sand and their feet firmly planted in 1950 that: “We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family.”

Tony Abbott Marriage Equality
Tony Abbott. Getty/Suhaimi Abdullah

The heart of the family, surely, is love, not how many parents you have or what gender they are, or who they sleep with (is there any topic children care less about than their parents’ sex lives?).

My heart breaks every time we have this discussion.

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Every time I hear another person argue that preventing same sex marriage in some way helps “the family” or is about “protecting children” it’s the same. I am torn between being furiously angry and profoundly sad.

And as a knot in my stomach sits heavily, a little voice in my head repeats once more what I’ve always said to myself: “What’s so great about having a “normal” family anyway?”

I’m 32-years-old. My parents are two of the most loving, supportive, generous, wonderful and awesome people in the world.

I come from a “non-traditional” family. But you better believe I grew up in homes full of love, encouragement and joy.

And I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about my family. Neither should anyone else.

Tony Abbott Marriage Equality
This was my childhood. It was awesome.

A few years ago Penny Wong appeared on Q&A and addressed this exact issue, in one of the most eloquent smackdowns of this kind of attitude you will ever watch.

It was perfect.

“It is sad I think that some families feel that they have to justify who they are because when you say those things, Joe, what you’re saying to not just me, but people like me is that the most important thing in our lives, which is the people we love, is somehow less good, less valued. And if you believe that then you believe that, but I have a different view,” she said when fellow panelist and now Australia’s representative in the United States, Joe Hockey, said he believed children do best with a mother and father.

Asked by Tony Jones if Hockey’s view was hurtful, Wong (then a mother of one, but now a mother of two) replied: “Of course. But I know what my family is worth.”

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Me too Senator, me too.

Here’s the thing about all those claims that “having a mum and dad is better blah blah blah”.  The data doesn’t back them up.

You know what the data actually says?

It says there’s no discernible difference.

The ABC’s excellent Fact Checkers looked into this last year.

They examined studies from around the world, including two Australian ones, and concluded that: “The experts Fact Check spoke to said there was a dearth of definitive credible data demonstrating that children of same-sex parents experienced worse outcomes than children of heterosexual parents.”

Watch ABC Fact Check explain the evidence: (Post continues after video)

The research also shows one thing that is a problem for children in same-sex parented families: being treated like they’re different because of their families.

In one Australian study, “two-thirds of the children from same-sex parented households experienced at least some stigma related to their parents and this was linked to worse mental health and emotional symptoms, though not enough to see differences in mental and emotional health between the two groups of children”.

Stigma related to their parents.

You know, things like future Treasurers and US Ambassadors saying you’re better off with different parents, or former Prime Ministers’ talking about how your non-traditional family isn’t quite right.

I can tell you right now, from first-hand experience, a child is not going to feel weird and anxious about their family unless someone outside of that family gives them reason to.

Same-sex parents can’t control who they fall in love with, and they shouldn’t have to worry that people who don’t know anything about how they love, care for and nurture their children will attack them for it.

The children shouldn’t have to worry about it either.

So to Tony Abbot and any other person who wants to pretend that this “argument” is about family: Stop hiding your bigotry behind the misguided and disingenuous pretence that you’re “thinking of the children.”

The kids are more than alright, and in many instances they are outperforming yours.

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