Thousands across the country joined together under banners and wedding veils on Saturday for the National Day of Action protest for same-sex marriage.

About 3000 people attended the Sydney event, which led rally-goers from the steps of Town Hall to the Labor Party national conference at Darling Harbour.

There, 150 couples stood before the Metropolitan Community Church’s Pastor Karl Hand to take part in an unofficial wedding ceremony.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore joined speakers from Community Action Against Homophobia at Town Hall to express her support for same-sex marriage.

A decent society should recognise, support and value loving relationships … marriage should be available to any couple, gay or straight, she said to the crowd before they made their way to the Labor Party conference headquarters.

Chanting slogans of gay, straight, black, white -” marriage is a civil right, the crowd moved along George St and down through Darling Harbour in a peaceful procession. There, more joined in as people called for Kevin Rudd to appear.

After an attempt by police to shut down the rally organiser’s microphone, NSW Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon called on ALP members to show courage and not toe the party line on same-sex marriage.

What I want to say to Kevin, is get over it, she said to rapturous applause.

Some of these senior Labor members need to break rank and say that we need to pass this law … we need the courage of senior party members.

Western Australian Labor senator Louise Pratt accepted submissions for the marriage inquiry, collected by Australian Marriage Equality members during the day.

Spirits remained high, in spite of protesters learning the Labor Party had already made a decision on the matter of marriage -” to provide a national framework for same-sex relationship recognition.

Rainbow Labor’s Matthew Loader vowed they would continue fighting.

Unfortunately I have to report that we haven’t got everything we wanted out of this, but this is the beginning not the end, he said.

Sydney’s protest was typical of actions across the country, which attracted an estimated total of 10,000 people, 500 of whom participated in weddings.

Melbourne had the largest turn-out. About 5000 marchers walked from Federation Square to Treasury Place. Speakers included Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Amnesty International spokesman Tony Pitman, women’s rights activist Alison Thorne and the Rainbow Families Council’s Felicity Marlowe.

The rally concluded on the steps of the Old Treasury Building where 65 couples were illegally married under the gaze of thousands in the crowd.

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