Australian Marriage Equality has applauded comments made by the new Labor candidate for Melbourne, Cath Bowtell, supporting gay marriage.

Bowtell was preselected for outgoing finance minister Lindsay Tanner’s seat last night and told The Age she personally supports same-sex marriage.

“I would obviously advocate that as hard and as strongly as I could within the Labor Party forums,” Bowtell told The Age.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national convenor Alex Greenwich said Bowtell’s stance is more consistent with Labor’s principles of inclusion and equality than Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s.

“Cath Bowtell’s statement puts pressure on other Labor candidates, particularly those in inner-city electorates with large numbers of gay voters, like Tanya Plibersek in Sydney and Anthony Albanese in Grayndler, to publicly put their personal views on the record,” Greenwich said.

“The shared values and union backgrounds of Cath Bowtell and Julia Gillard again raises the question — why does Gillard oppose same-sex marriages? The nation deserves an explanation.”

AME has been letterboxing the Melbourne electorate and inner-city Sydney seats on the issue.

The two leading candidates for Melbourne both support marriage equality, with the Greens Adam Bandt standing strong on the issue last week after Gillard stated her personal opposition.

Bandt told Southern Star the Greens would push the issue during the election campaign.

“Overwhelmingly, people do support change,” he told Southern Star last week.

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