Here is another article that gives some additional info I think.
ACL boycotts marriage equality debate
Written by Brendan Bolger and Serkan Ozturk | 19 July 2011
A same-sex marriage debate has been boycotted by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) “in protest at the increasing use of demonisation tactics by gay activists in pursuing their agenda”.
The debate at the University of Tasmania was to have included opponents, ACL managing director Jim Wallace, the Australian Family Asssociation’s Terri Kelleher, and Tasmania Liberal MP Michael Ferguson, to the question: “The House moves that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry”.
Proponents in the debate were to include Tasmanian gay activist Rodney Croome, writer Dr Danielle Wood from the University of Tasmania, and Tasmania Greens Leader and state Education Minister Nick McKim, who tabled his state-based marriage equality bill in Parliament last year.
In a joint statement issued by ACL, Wallace, Kelleher and Ferguson all claim their withdrawal from the debate did not reflect on the university but said they had “no confidence” the debate would be “free of personal attack and vitriol”.
“A debate is about the ability to put competing views in a civil environment where the reasonable opinions of all participants are respected, and one which is free of personal attack and vitriol.
“But given the record of some gay activists and their supporters in the public debate on this issue, we have no confidence that that will be the case,” the joint statement read.
The statement also directly referred to the stoush that developed last week between Ferguson and Labor MP Brenton Best, following suggestions in Parliament earlier in the month that Ferguson was instrumental in attending anti-gay rallies orchestrated by the Tasmania Family Institute in 2003.
Last week, ACL also sparked widespread condemnation from the LGBTI community and the Jewish community over its support for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s sister Loree and her public comments that equated the marriage equality movement with a global gay Gestapo.
“We would believe most people would view Ms Rudd’s use of the term ‘Gestapo’ as referring to attempts to use fear and intimidation to silence dissent,” Wallace said.
Early this evening, McKim’s office released a press statement in response to the debate’s cancellation.
McKim, who is said to be “mystified” by the pullout, was dubious about the excuse given by the parties involved.
“Same-sex marriage has the support of most Australians, and I suspect the real reason that Mr Ferguson and his colleagues withdrew is because they know they cannot win this debate,” McKim said.
“I support today’s call by the Australian Christian Lobby that this issue be debated on its merits. But we can’t have that debate if Mr Wallace, Mr Ferguson and Ms Kelleher lack the courage to show up.”
Croome questioned Wallace, Kelleher and Ferguson’s sudden withdrawal from the debate.
“This debate was the perfect opportunity for opponents of marriage equality not only to put their case, but to address whatever concerns they have about the tone of public debate.
“By withdrawing it looks like they’re trying to win public sympathy by playing the victim card rather than actually making their case and this does their cause no good at all,” he said.
It was disappointing the trio had withdrawn from the debate, Croome added.
“Personally, I was looking forward to an opportunity to re-assure Jim Wallace, Michael Ferguson and Terri Kelleher that marriage equality advocates like myself want a mature and respectful public discussion about this issue.
“A respectful discussion is something my colleagues and I have committed ourselves to repeatedly, despite provocative language from Jim Wallace comparing same-sex relationships to polygamy, and from Kevin Rudd’s sister, Loree, comparing marriage equality advocates and the Gestapo,” he said.
The debate was scheduled to take place on July 28 at the University of Tasmania’s Inveresk campus in Launceston.
Comment has been sought from the University of Tasmania.