Boy with three mums challenges PM
Orlando Burcham is 11 years old, has three mums, wants to be prime minister one day, and is something of a global phenomenon after giving Tony Abbott a piece of his mind on the subject of gay marriage.
The Australian Prime Minister, according to the Cessnock primary school student, is wrong. Orlando wants to meet him to tell him so – boy to man.
"He just doesn’t understand. If he’s Prime Minister, he should understand," he said.
Orlando’s letter to Mr Abbott and the reply he received last week went viral after his mother, Cessnock councillor and Liberal branch vice-president Cordelia Troy, put them on her Facebook page.
His harsh assessment of Mr Abbott’s opposition to gay marriage – "You were elected to represent our country, not yourself" – was lead the news item on Australian and international websites, including the prestigious US online site The Huffington Post.
Orlando’s challenge to Mr Abbott – "Doesn’t our opinions matter to you? Just because you’re the Prime Minister, which by the way does not give you all the power" – became a rallying cry for Australian supporters of gay marriage.
Any suggestion that Orlando’s mother, who flew to New York last year to marry wife Marissa, was behind the letter was scotched yesterday when Orlando calmly handled media interviews, and repeated that Mr Abbott needed to update his belief that marriage was restricted to a man and a woman.
"He just didn’t think it through. That’s what he needs to do as Prime Minister – think things through," Orlando said.
As for Mr Abbott’s famous admission in 2010 that he felt "a bit threatened" by homosexuality, Orlando was dismissive.
"I think that’s idiotic. How could you be threatened about it?
"There’s no reason," he said.
He wrote the letter six weeks ago while his twin sister, Ocean, wrote a letter to a bus company praising a bus driver.
Gay marriage was an important issue for him, because he was sad and angry his mother had to leave the country to wed, he said.
He wrote it "because I’m supporting her and encouraging her to make changes".
Ocean did not get a response from the bus company.
However, Orlando received a signed letter from the Prime Minister, thanking him for his views, and noting that: "Ongoing dialogue between government and citizens keeps our democracy strong."
Orlando was happy for that ongoing dialogue to continue yesterday.
"He’s an all-right Prime Minister, but I’m not entirely happy with his decisions," he said.
"His sister is gay. What kind of a brother is he?"
Cr Troy said she was extremely proud of her "beautiful son" for raising "an issue that needs to be looked at".
Orlando said he was happy to have three "mums" – Ms Troy, her wife Marissa, and his father’s wife.
"It’s awesome," he said, and gave a reason only an 11-year-old boy could get away with: "They’re very good cooks."