Labor’s candidate to succeed Lindsay Tanner in the seat of Melbourne at the federal election has broken ranks with her party’s policy on same-sex marriage.

“I personally support same-sex marriage … I would obviously advocate that as hard and as strongly as I could within the Labor Party forums,” Cath Bowtell told The Age.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has welcomed Bowtell’s support on the issue and will now cease its leafleting campaign in Melbourne.

AME convenor Alex Greenwich said Bowtell’s comments showed that its campaign was working.

“Our letterboxing campaign in the seat of Melbourne has highlighted what a key issue this is for that electorate.

“As a result, in the next parliament, the seat of Melbourne will have a strong advocate for marriage equality, whether it is Labor’s Cath Bowtell or the Greens’ Adam Bandt.”

AME would end its leafteting campaign in the seats of Sydney and Grayndler as well if Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese were to do the same.

Bowtell’s declaration of her support for same-sex marriage follows votes by the Tasmanian and Victorian state conferences of the Labor Party in favour of marriage equality in July and November last year.

State Labor figures to speak about the issue in NSW include Heathcote MP Paul McLeay during debate on the Relationship Register Bill earlier this year.

“The year before last I attended the wedding of our friends Eleanor and Kate, which was a wedding in the same way as ours was,” McLeay said.

“I do not believe there is any harm in Eleanor and Kate saying that they are married … We must let people enjoy the benefits that we all take for granted.”

Premier Kristina Keneally told Time Out in May that she was “open-minded” about same-sex marriage.

“One writer I admire is Andrew Sullivan, a gay conservative. He argues that giving gay couples access to marriage actually strengthens the institution,” Keneally said.

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