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Australian leader Tony Abbott fires lawmaker for linking gay marriage, bestiality

Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott on Sept.

Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott on Sept. 19, 2012 in Canberra, Australia. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott forced his parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi to resign for remarks equating gay marriage with bestiality.

"They're views that I think many people would find repugnant," Abbott told reporters in Canberra today. "It's pretty clear that I have sent a very strong message to every member of the team that ill-discipline is unacceptable." His move to disassociate himself from Bernardi's comments in the Senate yesterday comes as support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Labor Party is at an 18-month high, boosting its prospects before elections due next year. Abbott this month denied allegations that he physically intimidated a female political opponent during Sydney University elections in 1977.

Bernardi, a 42-year-old Liberal-National coalition lawmaker representing South Australia, today resigned his posts as shadow parliamentary secretary for the opposition leader and supporting families, and will be replaced in the two roles by Arthur Sinodonis and Jamie Briggs respectively.

"The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society," Bernardi said, adding there is the potential for "creepy people" to "say it is okay to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals." The bill amending the Marriage Act to allow gay marriage was defeated in parliament's lower house today. Labor lawmaker Anthony Albanese said gay marriage will eventually be legalized by the federal government.

Bernardi, who will remain a senator, faced condemnation from both major parties for his comments.

'Extreme' Comments "His views are extreme, they are hysterical, they're not the views of the mainstream Australian society -- let alone of the Liberal Party," Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in an Australian Broadcasting Corp. interview today.

Labor's primary vote rose 3 percentage points to 36 percent, while Abbott's coalition slid 5 points to 41 percent, according to a Newspoll survey published in the Australian newspaper Sept. 17. Gillard's lead over Abbott as preferred prime minister widened to 14 points from 1 point in the previous poll. The survey of 1,166 people had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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