The fight for gay marriage in Victoria has been stepped up with a new campaign.

Challenging current Labor Party policy, Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike launched the Equal Love campaign in a quiet start to what organisers hope to be the largest cry of support for marriage equality to date.

About 30 people gathered on the steps of Old Treasury last Thursday in preparation for the National Day of Action for same-sex marriage on August 1 -” to coincide with the last day of the ALP National Conference.

The campaign is gaining momentum with more than 50 community and political groups pledging support across Australia. Rallies are expected around the country to protest the gay marriage ban which was enforced in 2004 by the Howard Government, with support from the ALP.

A mass -˜illegal’ wedding will take place near Parliament House as part of the August 1 protest.

The push comes as recent opinion polls suggest more than 60 percent of Australian are in favour of gay marriage.

Pike called on her own party to take notice of the views of the community and urged ongoing discussion on the issue.

-œWe want the federal Labor Government to stand up in this area that they have responsibility for, she said.

Although not a delegate at the national conference, Pike felt confident the ALP would eventually come to the table.

-œI think change will invariably come whether it’s at this conference or in the future, I’m not sure how the debate will go but I think a lot of people are putting forward alternatives to our current position.

Equal Love co-convenor Martin Baldock said same-sex relationships should not be less deserving of respect than their heterosexual counterparts.

-œThe question of marriage equality is a question of civil rights, he said.

-œBy treating this core element of our identity as something to be categorised as deserving only partial recognition, under certain circumstances, the federal Government not only fails to stop the marginalisation and discrimination of the lesbian, gay, bi community, it actively encourages it.

info: The Equal Love rally is August 1, starts Federation Square, 1pm. Visit equallove.info to find out more.

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