When Australian politician Tim Watts heard anti-gay comments from fellow politician Senator Eric Abetz — claiming that gay designers Dolce and Gabbana are the reason he believes LGBT people don't actually want to get married — he scraped his speech he had planned for the next day and came up with a new approach.
Instead of discussing "evidence and logical arguments" that back up his pro-gay marriage stance, he decided to get personal.
He told the group about his two gay uncles, and in particular, his Uncle Derrick, in a moving speech.
"A man that I called my Uncle Derrick. But a man who my Uncle Ian was never able to call a husband," he said.
Derrick came out to Watts' old-school, conservative grandfather, who learned to accept him.
But the man who he came to know as family ended up dying of AIDS during the epidemic of the late '80s and early '90s. A death that Watts believed was tragic for more reasons than one:
"To have to do so with only with the horrors of the illness, but with the indignities and horrors and of a lack of recognition from a society around you."
"To have to deal with being beaten by hateful men on the street while his body was destroying itself from the inside."
Australia has yet to legalize gay marriage nationally, with the majority of politicians in the country against it — despite a poll revealing a record 72 percent of people in favor of equal rights policy. Just today the vote was delayed, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed in the coalition party room meeting that citizens will be able to vote on the matter after the next election.
In the meantime, Watts has a message for those who want to talk about what they do not know:
"Do not claim to understand what gay Australians want. Do not tell them what they do and don't want. Do not use the law to deny them the equal right to choose ..."
"Not all gay men are Italian fashion designers," he continues. "We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that while laughable we are dealing with series issues of human dignity and legal discrimination in this debate."
"We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the LGBTI rights movement in Australian is a serious cause with serious consequence for LGBTI Australians, a cause that is experiencing some very difficult times in Australia in the past decades. And a cause that all of us in this place should treat very seriously in all of our representations. "