Same-sex marriage ‘No’ campaigner Tony Abbott attends sister Christine Forster’s gay marriage

By @chelean on
Australian PM Tony Abbott
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses members of the media after a party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra February 9, 2015. Reuters/Sean Davey

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott might have fought marriage equality legalisation in Australia until the end, but he still couldn’t miss his own sister’s same-sex marriage. Liberal councillor Christine Forster married long-time partner Virginia Flitcroft on Friday, and his brother was there to wish them a happy union.

Abbott, who was PM from 2013 until he was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015, had adamantly proposed gay marriage from the start. He had maintained that marriage was between a man and a woman only, not between same-sex couples. He had proposed that the issue should be put to a national referendum than a parliamentary vote before he was ousted from office, though.

And in December, the Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage. Abbott tried to propose amendments to the bill but was ultimately shut down. The first same-sex weddings were held on Jan. 9.

His stance against the issue was at odds with his sister, who campaigned for marriage equality. Forster, who left his husband for Flitcroft, publicly butted heads with his brother. She said their versions of marriage were not the same. Abott even once questioned Forster and Flitcroft’s roles as gay parents during an interview. The incident angered Forster, telling his brother privately that it wasn’t okay to use her as a “political football.”

Nevertheless, when Forster and Flitcroft exchanged vows on Friday, Abbott and wife Margie were there, as were their daughters Louise and Bridget. Their second daughter Frances Abbott, who also publicly endorsed same-sex marriage, was unable to attend with fiancé Sam Loch at the last minute.

Abbott, Forster’s mother Fay and their sister Pip also attended the joyous occasion. Their father, Dick Abbott, died before Christmas. Flitcroft’s two children, Laura and Fraser Edwards, were there as well to see their mother marry the woman she loves.

Abbott almost did not get an invite to his sister’s wedding. Forster told the “Australian Story” on Monday that she almost considered against it. When he said in an interview that he wouldn’t convert to support marriage equality overnight but he was looking forward to his sister’s wedding, Forster said it was a “bit presumptuous” of him. In any case, Abbott was always on the invite list.

Forster’s Catholic upbringing had delayed her realisation that she was gay. It was only after meeting Flitcroft that she realised that she was attracted to women. And so it was an “understatement” that her parents and her family had a difficult time accepting her marriage breakdown and her new partner. Her brother, on the other hand, was more welcoming.

The former PM might be a leader of the No campaign, but he and his wife were the first in their family to welcome her and her partner into their home.  Abbott was also “fabulous” about her nuptials, with Forster telling Ten Network that he was the first person to call them on their wedding day to check if everything was going smoothly.

“Great family occasion. Very happy for Chris and Virginia,” Abbott told reporters on his arrival at the Sydney wedding. “I’m looking forward to having a new sister-in-law.”

 

#chrisandvigwedding

A post shared by Councillor Christine Forster (@crchristineforster) on Feb 2, 2018 at 4:59pm PST