The Greens have ramped up their push for same-sex marriage as the first, and only, public hearing for the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill Inquiry took place in Melbourne on Monday.

Greens leader Bob Brown and party spokeswoman for sexuality and gender identity Senator Sarah Hanson-Young launched a pro-gay marriage postcard campaign at Melbourne University a day earlier, pledging support for gay marriage ahead of next year’s federal election.

The postcard features a picture of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and another man arm-in-arm in front of a wedding cake with the words ‘Say I do, Mr Rudd…’ which the Greens will present to the PM.

“The majority of Australians think people should be able to marry who they want,” Hanson-Young said.

“This is not a gay issue, it’s a human rights issue. Although not all same-sex couples want to get married — just like not all opposite-sex couples want to get married — it should be their choice how they celebrate their love, not the government’s.”

Hanson-Young called on Rudd to allow MPs a conscience vote when the amendment bill goes through Parliament.

The bill has prompted a flurried response from the wider community with the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee receiving more than 20,000 submissions in around two months.

The committee confirmed on Monday that 16,752 emails were received against amending the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples, while only 8666 emails had been received for.

However, of those emails against, some 8906 were one-line statements opposing the bill because it would change the historic meaning of marriage.

The Australian Family Association’s submission stated marriage should be reserved for male-female couples only.

Sydney will hold a pro-gay marriage rally on November 28 — two days after the committee is due to hand down its report.

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