Cries for same-sex marriage rang through the streets of Melbourne for the second time this year on Saturday, as thousands gathered to demand the Rudd Government overturn the ban on gay marriage.

“This is not the end, this is the start,” Equal Love convenor James Vigus shouted to a 2000-strong crowd.

“We need to add to our voices and say, this is a mainstream issue. I’m sick and tired of being told that this is a fringe issue, something on the fringes of society.”

Two days before the rally the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released its report into same-sex marriage — after weeks of public submissions — infuriating many with its opposition.

Marriage equality advocates have vowed not to let the report have the final word.

Speaking at the rally in front of the State Library, Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Dr Anthony Bendall urged the community to take a greater stand on the issue.

“We need your help to rally, to march, to write letters and submissions, to speak to your local MPs to affirm our love, our lives and our rightful place as full and equal citizens of Australia,” he said.

“So while we are disappointed [about the Senate report], we are are far from disheartened or discouraged.”

Rainbow Families Council spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe, with her children and partner beside her, argued allowing same-sex marriage rights uphold the best interests of children.

“This [federal] Government’s continued refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry tells our children, and all children, you can actually be a little bit equal, but some discrimination is okay, that a small amount of prejudice is fine and that a little bit of homophobia is really nothing to worry about,” she said.

“It’s not okay, it’s not fine … we must argue that our children deserve to be equal too.”

Breaking ranks from Labor Party hierarchy, Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike told the crowd she would continue to make a stand on the issue.

“Nothing should stand in the way of people being able to express … love and express it loud and strong and publicly,” she said.

“The majority of Australians believe we should be fair, believe we should be decent. They believe it’s the right thing to have equality when it comes to relationships and the majority of Australians, I think, believe we should change this unjust law.”

The rally drew strong trade union support, including representatives from the CFMEU.

An estimated 5000 people turned out to Equal Love rallies across the country over the weekend, with Sydney attracting around 2000.

More pictures: page 21 and www.sstar.net.au

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