There would be some teachers out there who would tell me this isn't ideal material for an ESL classroom, citing the need to be sensitive to different cultural values and beliefs, etc.
Bollocks to that, I say. Gay marriage IS a big issue not just in Australia right now, but also in the United States and in many other parts of the world. It's an issue all of us need to think about, whether we were born in this country or are recent arrivals.
Penny Wong (Australian Federal Senator and Finance Minister) appeared on the popular program QandA on Monday and was caught by surprise at the end of the segment by an unexpected question. Given she is gay and a gay parent but has famously refused to campaign publicly about same-sex issues, her response here is being held up by many as a potential watershed (there's a good word to explain to your ESL students!) moment in the debate about the fundamental rights of gays and lesbians in Australia.
Here are my English Oz activity sheets to go with this discussion input:
Cert III ESL (Access) Documentation:
Unit C21 (VPAU502): Engage in casual conversation and straightforward spoken transactions.
Element 1: Interpret a casual conversation on everyday topics
Performance Criteria 1.1: Identify context/situation and relationship between speakers
Performance Criteria 1.2: Outline main topics, and opinions or attitudes expressed
Performance Criteria 1.3: Locate supporting details and implied meanings, where apparent
Performance Criteria 1.4: Identify emotional state/attitude of speakers where apparent
Performance Criteria 1.5: Identify some conversational strategies used
Performance Criteria 1.6: Identify requests to clarify misunderstandings and ambiguous points
You might like to also support this with the following article from the Sydney Morning Herald, which includes the video footage above and all of the key dialogue as written quotes, but also builds some context and commentary around them:
I think the following video is also brilliant material, not just for demonstrating that, for all her quiet and firm determination, Ms. Wong is not afraid to stand up to the conservative bully boys in Australia's parliament; there is also the prickly issue of gender equality and attitudes towards women in general in this country:
An amazing lady. I personally reckon she should be the country's Prime Minister, but that's just my opinion. See what your ESL learners make of her!