Who knew the far-north Queensland seat of Leichhardt could be this much fun?
Leichhardt, you'll remember, is the site of the unusual tri-partite contest between the Liberals' Charlie McKillop, the Nationals' Ian Crossland, and Labor's Jim Turnour. It has already caught our attention once this election campaign when Crossland opined aloud that although he was no sexist, Leichhardt is "no seat for a woman". And meant it.
Now McKillop is once again the subject of no-fault-of-hers controversy. Ben Jacobsen, Family First candidate for Leichhardt and every bit as far-right as that implies, has been rebuked by Steve Fielding for insisting that McKillop make her sexuality a matter of public record. McKillop must be cursing the day gender stereotypes were invented; they've bitten her from both sides during this contest. Can't a female ex-prawn trawler be left to campaign in peace?
One would've imagined that Family First have been hoisted on the sexuality-publicising petard quite enough for one week - Steve Fielding evidently thinks so - but that's the trouble with pathological homophobia: you never know when it might rear its ugly head (cf: Bill Heffernan).
And that's the point here: Jacobsen's statement wasn't a one-off gaffe. Impolitic it certainly was, but claiming that people have "the right to know" about a candidate's sexuality is really just a logical extension of the entrenched Family First principle that consensual sex between adults is everybody's business. Hence, banning pornography and prostitution; hence banning gay marriage and denying gay couples the full complement of rights enjoyed by heterosexuals. Philosophically speaking, the "gaffe" and the policy are coming from the same place. Politically, Fielding's rebuke is the right thing to do, but ideologically it makes no sense whatsoever.
Incidentally, rare props to Peter Costello, for saying, explicitly, that this "doesn't reflect well on Family First". Damn right, it doesn't.