WITH thousands attending marriage equality rallies around the country coinciding with the launch of the new #WeCanDoThis campaign last weekend, marriage equality advocates are now preparing for a busy week ahead as Federal Parliament resumes and a cross-party bill is expected to be introduced.

On Saturday, Brisbane witnessed its largest-ever pro-marriage equality protest as over 5000 people took to the streets calling on the government to amend the Marriage Act, while 2000 people took part in a similar rally in the smaller city of Hobart the same day.

Sydney also had one of its largest pro-marriage equality protests ever on Sunday (scroll down for videos), and over 700 people marched through Perth on the same day.

The rallies occurred on the same weekend Australian Marriage Equality (AME) launched its new #WeCanDoThis campaign, which includes a new series of TV ads starring high-profile Australians such as Hugo Weaving, Chris Bath, Julia Morris, Shelley Argent and Danielle Cormack all urging Federal Parliament to legislate marriage equality now.

The weekend was capped off with a #WeCanDoThis sign being installed at Canberra Airport (pictured above), as well as the premises being illuminated in rainbow colours on Sunday night as federal MPs and senators arrived ahead of this week’s return of Federal Parliament sittings.

Owned and operated by the Snow family, the symbolic gesture by Canberra Airport sees it join the ranks of over 500 nationwide corporate organisations in declaring support for marriage equality.

“Australians are ready for marriage equality and our message to federal politicians is ‘we can do this’,” AME national director Rodney Croome said.

“When MPs and senators walked off their planes they are likely to see that marriage equality is firmly on the agenda this with marriage equality banners throughout Canberra Airport and the Airport exterior illuminated in rainbow colours.

On Tuesday, it’s expected that Leichhardt federal Coalition MP Warren Entsch will introduce a cross-party bill to legalise same-sex marriage, after the Liberal partyroom debates the issue.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who opposes marriage equality, has previously said the issue of changing the Liberal’s binding vote against any marriage equality legislation to one of a conscious vote would be discussed in the partyroom should a bill be introduced.

If Entsch’s bill is introduced, it would add to the three already doing the rounds in Parliament House — one each from the Greens and Labor and one from NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm.

Entsch’s legislation is reportedly being co-sponsored by fellow Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro, along with Labor MPs Laurie Ferguson and Terri Butler as well as crossbench MPs Andrew Wilkie Cathy McGowan and the Greens’ Adam Bandt.

While the success of the bill could depend on the timing of debate in the House of Representatives and its the outcome from the Coalition-controlled selection committee, the government could decide to bring on a vote any time.

With dissenting voices on both sides of parliament, a conscience vote for Coalition MPs — which Labor has already granted to its members — is considered essential for marriage equality to get across the line. The Greens have said they will vote in favour of marriage equality.

As the debate for marriage equality continues to surge ahead, those who are against it have also been making their voices heard.

On the weekend, Foxtel copped backlash for airing Marriage Alliance’s “iceberg” TV commercial — which had been rejected by channels Seven and Ten. The same organisation also announced on Facebook it would begin a mail-drop campaign of anti-marriage equality brochures.

Meanwhile, the Australian Marriage Forum today took out a full page ad in the Australian, claiming that same-sex marriage is “not marriage” and urging parliamentarians to “find another word” for it.

“Same-sex couples (the 1%) a free to live as they choose, but they are not free to redefine marriage for the rest of us,” the ad states.

The same organisation came under fire in March after its TV commercial criticising marriage equality was aired on channels Seven and Nine on the night of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, while SBS refused to broadcast it.

Last week, AME deputy director Ivan Hinton-Teoh told the Star Observer that discussion on marriage equality had been going on for over a decade and that campaigns by those such as Marriage Alliance and Australian Marriage Forum were a “desperate attempt” to “defend” the Marriage Act despite “clearly Australians aren’t buying what they’re selling”.

Footage of the pro-marriage equality rally in Sydney:

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