The campaign for marriage equality has reheated with Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s bill back in the Senate and Australian Marriage Equality encouraging high-profile Australians to write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott to ask for a conscience vote.

Senator Hanson-Young told Southern Star Observer there was no timeframe for when the bill might come to a vote.

“The bill has been re-introduced, as promised, and now it will sit ready to be debated and voted on in the Senate while the campaign for a conscience vote builds momentum,” Hanson-Young said.

An online petition pushing for a conscience vote on Hanson-Young’s Greens party web page had already gathered close to 7000 signatures in a matter of days.

“I encourage everyone who supports marriage equality to sign the petition … and I thank the members of the public who have already done so,” Hanson-Young said.

“It is also critical that members of the public make their feelings known about the need for reform, by contacting their local MPs and senators to call for a conscience vote.

“This campaign will not succeed overnight, but I believe that a consistent message sent from inside and outside Parliament will lead to all politicians being able to speak freely and vote fairly. That is the least that our democracy deserves.”

Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said his organisation would fight a hard campaign for a conscience vote alongside the Greens.

“The immediate battle for us is quite clear and quite simple — it is to do whatever we can to encourage a conscience vote,” Greenwich said.

“The day the bill was introduced into Parliament we worked with [Sydney Lord Mayor] Clover Moore’s office for her to send a letter of support for a conscience vote to Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard.

“We’ll be working with other prominent Australians as well to do that and we’ll also be facilitating every Australian in being able to put their support behind a conscience vote on marriage equality.

“Once we have a conscience vote we’ll have an open and honest debate in our Parliament on same-sex marriage which is something we haven’t had before.”

Greenwich was also buoyed by two of the new MPs in the House of Representatives listing same-sex marriage as a priority in their inaugural speeches.

Greenwich noted that both the Greens’ Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie had been elected in electorates where a clear majority of voters had supported pro-marriage equality candidates.

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