News of the step-down came after Bernardi’s own party leader, liberal Senator Tony Abbott, blasted the controversial comments. After the two MPs had a discussion on Friday, Abbot told the Australian that Bernardi’s remarks were “ill-disciplined.”
“I swiftly concluded that one mistake was too many,” Abbott added.
Bernardi released a terse, unapologetic statement following his resignation. “I have taken this decision in the interests of the coalition,” he said.
His controversial comments came on Thursday night during a debate on same-sex marriage. Bernardi argued that gay nuptials might be the beginning of a slippery slope.
“The next step ... is having three people that love each other be able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society, or four people,” he said.
“There are even some creepy people out there, who say that it's OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?”
This is not the first time Bernardi has been at the center of controversy; he has also come under fire for comments disparaging Islam. These outbursts, whether in line with his peers’ opinions or not, have become a thorn in the side of the Australian opposition.
“I've known Cory for a long time,” explained Abbott on Wednesday, according to the Australian. “He's a decent bloke with strong opinions. But discipline is critical. Team play is vital. And that's what Cory has had some problems with. And that's why I thought it was very important to act quickly and decisively as I have.”
Meanwhile, the gay marriage debate rages on in Australia. A bill to legalize the practice was defeated in the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday, but a separate bill is still under consideration in the Senate.
Polls show that the majority of Australians support gay marriage.