Country music superstar Dolly Parton has weighed into Australia’s same-sex marriage debate, declaring gay couples should have the right to wed.
“Why can’t they be as miserable as us heterosexuals in their marriages?” she joked with News Breakfast from her home city of Nashville, Tennessee.
Parton said that, all jokes aside, same-sex couples should not be treated differently to everybody else.
“Hey, I think love is love and we have no control over that … I think people should be allowed to [marry],” she said.
“I’m not God, you know. I believe in God, I think God is the judge. I don’t judge or criticise and I don’t think we’re supposed to.”
Parton, who has a large gay following, has been a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage.
Same-sex weddings were illegal in Tennessee until June 2015, when the US Supreme Court ruled that gay couples should be allowed to marry in all US states and territories.
A literary milestone
Dolly is also on the verge of winning a new generation of fans as she releases her first album of songs for children.
She wrote and recorded all 14 tracks on I Believe in You and said it was one of the most enjoyable projects of her nearly 60-year music career.
“I’m from a big family surrounded by little nieces and nephews. I’m a very childlike person,” she said.
“I love kids and I love their energy and when I’m surrounded by them it gives me ideas.”
All proceeds from the album will go towards the Imagination Library, a literacy program the music star set up 20 years ago.
Children in five countries, including Australia, receive a book each month from birth to the age of five.
The library has now given away 100 million books and Parton said she was as proud of the program as she was of anything else she’d done.
“If you can read you can learn,” she said.
“I just think it’s so important that kids get books in their hands when they’re very young and when they’re most impressionable.”
Getting the band back together?
Parton certainly made an impression herself when she, together with her co-stars on the hit 1980 film “9 to 5”, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, made a joint appearance at the Emmys last month.
Fonda and Tomlin used the occasion, and the worldwide audience, to take a not-so-thinly veiled stab at US President Donald Trump, comparing him to their “sexist, egotistical and lying” movie boss played by Dabney Coleman.
Parton looked slightly uncomfortable and quickly moved the presentation on.
She insists she didn’t feel awkward on the Emmys stage and was pleased to be reunited with her co-stars.
“I love getting the chance to go out with them, because the movie was such a big hit worldwide,” she said.
“We got a standing ovation, we came in with a bang and went out with a bang. And it was all good.”
Sadly, for the many fans of the movie, Parton has ruled out a “9 to 5” sequel.
“We’d probably have to call it 95 now. We’re a little old now!”
An Australian return?
Age is also catching up with Parton’s long-time friend and duet partner, Kenny Rogers.
The 79-year-old singer is in the midst of his farewell tour and, later this month in Nashville, Rogers and Parton will sing on stage together one last time.
The 71-year-old Parton said it would be a bittersweet moment.
“I really can’t believe he’s retiring. It’s sad, but I guess we all get to that place. We can’t live forever,” she said.
“I love Kenny. It will be an emotional night for us, I’m sure.”
Speaking of tours, Parton is keen to get back to Australia.
“I wish I could come today. I’ve talked about it and I’ll eventually get back there because I love my fans and I love Australia,” she said.