More than 2000 people turned out to hear speakers including Labor Senator Doug Cameron and Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon at the Sydney marriage equality rally on Saturday.
Senator Cameron promised a strong push for a change in policy at the ALP’s next national Conference in December 2011 and told the crowd that commitment ceremonies and relationship registries were not alternatives to giving GLBTI Australians full equality.
“If two human beings love each other they should have the right to marry,” Cameron told the crowd.
“Love and commitment should be the test, not outdated and discriminatory Acts of Parliament.
“We’re entering a period where, if the campaign for marriage equality is handled strategically and sensibly, the growing political and community support for marriage equality will result in a historic change to the Marriage Act.”
Cameron named Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek and Penny Sharpe as politicians from NSW who were pushing for full equality within the party, and encouraged audience members to write to politicians to “canvas the issue of equal rights for all Australians”.
Senator-elect Rhiannon told the crowd the Greens marriage equality campaign had seen a recent success in Adam Bandt’s motion calling on MPs to seek their constituents views on the issue, but it was ordinary people showing their concern through events like the rally that would give parliamentarians the courage to do the right thing.
Rhiannon said a human right denied was a wrong for all Australians and that Cameron’s support was important as marriage equality needed Parliamentary support beyond the Greens.
But, she said, Prime Minister Julia Gillard remained a stumbling block.
“You wouldn’t expect anything else from Tony Abbott, but Julia Gillard is a big disappointment on this issue,” Rhiannon said.
“This was an issue where we needed some leadership and she’s failed.”
Rhiannon said that with the support of the Greens and MPs from other parties, marriage equality was now a winnable issue in Australia.