The campaign for same-sex marriage received a boost last weekend with the official launch of national lobby group Australian Marriage Equality (AME).

About 90 people gathered at Sydney Pride Centre for the event, which saw speakers including Dr Kerryn Phelps reiterate the call for relationship equality.

Phelps spoke of the poisonous politics that fuelled the anti-gay marriage movement in Australia, and the ill-will she saw in the federal government’s attitude to same-sex unions.

She said the antidote to that sentiment was solidarity, even from those who did not wish to marry.

The point is that there are those in our community who do -¦ Solidarity is about respecting the wishes of those couples and supporting their right to equality, Phelps said.

A representative from the International Lesbian and Gay Association delivered a speech written by gay activist Rodney Croome in which he outlined five steps to gay marriage, including education and getting prepared for a struggle.

The same-sex marriage debate of 2004 was nothing compared to the struggles to come, Croome wrote.

The need for unity was the key theme to emerge from the launch, AME’s national convenor, Luke Gahan, told Sydney Star Observer.

He added that AME, which was established last year, also saw the need for equality of same-sex partnerships other than marriage.

AME will certainly be campaigning for de facto recognition at a federal level as well, because that should be available to couples as well as marriage, Gahan said.

Meanwhile, AME’s Victorian representative, civil celebrant Jason McCheyne, performed same-sex marriages in Melbourne last Sunday as part of the city’s Midsumma festival.

The Valentine’s Day Eve event saw couples marry in a symbolic ceremony aimed at highlighting same-sex relationships.

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