Protesters in Melbourne brought the CBD to a standstill with a march from the State Library of Victoria to the registry office, where dozens of couples were mass-married in an “illegal wedding” on the steps of the Old Treasury building.
Speaking to the assembled crowd, Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt expressed disappointment at the major parties’ failure to legislate marriage equality, and congratulated protesters on their continuing efforts.
“I want you to turn to the person beside you and pat them on the back because not only have you convinced the community, not only have you convinced commentators, but you’ve convinced the Prime Minister and pretty soon you’re going to convince the parliament,” Bandt said.
Labor candidate for Melbourne Cath Bowtell also spoke, telling protesters her party had more candidates campaigning on marriage equality than ever.
Leader of the Australian Greens Christine Milne spoke to demonstrators in Brisbane, criticising Labor’s position of granting a conscience vote to its members.
“This ought not to be a conscience vote. This ought to be a vote on a matter of discrimination,” Milne said.
“We wouldn’t be having conscience votes on any other form of equality — why is this a conscience issue? In this country, we should not be discriminating against people on the basis of their sexuality, full stop.”
Milne also outlined the Greens’ plan for a cross-party coalition on marriage equality, working to build bipartisan support for reform.
Despite taking place in her electorate, the Brisbane rally did not see an appearance by Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro, who has previously expressed her personal support for same-sex marriage.
The protests come almost exactly nine years after the Howard Government’s Marriage Amendment Act 2004 came into effect, specifically defining marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others”.
The demonstrations coincided with new polling released by Fairfax media indicating a significant majority of voters in the key marginal Victorian seats of Melbourne, Corangamite and Deakin support marriage equality.
According to the polling Melbourne had the highest level of support, with over 65 per cent of voters in favour.
In contrast, polling in key marginal seats in Sydney’s west indicated low levels of support for marriage equality.