National campaign group for same-sex marriage Equal Love has called on the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to adopt a policy in favour of same-sex marriage over civil unions ahead of the upcoming national conference.

Equal Love’s call follows reports NSW Rainbow Labor has locked horns with other gay and lesbian rights groups over its position on pushing civil unions over same-sex marriage at the ALP National Conference.

The three-yearly conference is pivotal to shaping Labor’s future policy agenda. The three-day meeting will be held in Sydney starting July 30.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) last week accused NSW Rainbow Labor of being out of step with the community and bowing to political pressure.

-œWere Australia to engage in a debate over a national civil union scheme, it would be a debate about same-sex marriage in all but name, involving the same passions and the same participants and only end up delaying the real deal, AME spokesman Peter Furness said.

NSW Rainbow Labor spokesman Michael Vaughan defended his position, saying the group still supports same-sex marriage, despite its absence in a motion moved after the first draft of the ALP National Platform. Vaughan said the group will move a motion supporting same-sex marriage in the second platform draft.

He said haphazard implementation of state-based registers demonstrates the need for a national civil union scheme, however, Rainbow Labor is still in favour of marriage.

-œThe [first] motion -¦ is not meant to encompass Rainbow Labor’s entire political position on relationship recognition, Vaughan told the Star.

With Victorian Rainbow Labor’s establishment yet to be approved by the Victorian state conference, it’s likely NSW Rainbow Labor will be the driving force in internal ALP discussions on the issue.

Equal Love’s National Day of Action on August 1 coincides with the last day of the conference and will be a platform to hammer home demands for same-sex marriage.

Equal Love spokesman Tim Wright said adopting a policy in favour of civil unions over same-sex marriage creates a system of -œrelationship apartheid.

-œWe’re campaigning for nothing less than marriage and we hope we’re the more powerful voice. We know a majority of LGBT people view civil unions as a compromise position.

Wright said although Vaughan had expressed support for same-sex marriage the first motion not to include it could be divisive in wedging the community into opposing camps.

-œIt would be a mistake to see [Rainbow Labor NSW] as representing a significant faction of people within the community -¦ it does give the impression of disunity and that can be used by conservative politicians against us.

Equal Love will hold simultaneous mass -˜illegal’ same-sex weddings across the country as part of the campaign.

Organisers expect more than a thousand people to attend rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, despite dwindling numbers in recent years.

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