The Yes campaign has seen people mobilise in support of social justice on an impressive scale and, unlike similar campaigns, will likely end in victory.

Within weeks of Malcolm Turnbull announcing that the marriage equality postal survey would take place, records had been set in capital cities around the country.

More people marched for LGBTI rights than had ever done so before in Australian history. More than 20,000 in Melbourne, 40,000 in Sydney, and several thousands in Perth, Adelaide, and Canberra.

A Yes victory – should it occur – will accordingly not be due to slick television advertising, strategically placed billboards, clever spin, nor obscene amounts of money being thrown at the cause.

It will instead be a victory won by the thousands who marched, door knocked, made phone calls, put up posters, and persuaded friends, family, and workmates that equality matters.

It will be a victory for old fashioned grassroots social justice campaigning, and a testament to the truly moving groundswell of support for LGBTI rights that the postal survey has unleashed.

Many of these methods for achieving social change have been criticised over the thirteen years this campaign has been running.

Protests and activism have been derided at various times as alienating people and deterring politicians from expressing support for equality.

But the Yes campaign shows the opposite, and provides vindication for all those who have insisted on an active public campaign.

Mass protests have galvanised this movement like nothing else has. They have highlighted the depth and breadth of support as well as turning this from a passive sentiment into an active movement.

They’ve emboldened people who may never have thought to get active to do more for the campaign: whether it’s put up a poster at work, raise the issue at a union meeting, leaflet their local train station, or talk to friends and family about the issue.

It has helped forge bonds of solidarity and common purpose between those who would otherwise have been atomised.

Since the announcement of the postal survey, this has only escalated and provided incredible momentum towards the achievement of civil rights.

The same cannot be said of the No campaign.

For all their claims to represent the “silent majority” they have not managed a single sizeable public demonstration.

Their campaign has depended not on a clear argument against equality, but on introducing extraneous issues in order to confuse the issue and whip up fear.

Their eleventh hour bid to stymie marriage equality looks set to only discredit the forces of social conservatism, and consolidate those of their opponents.

The significance of this cannot be overrated. In the times we are living through it is rare to achieve a victory for social justice.

In most areas, whether it’s refugee rights, civil liberties, or access to social services, government policy is going rapidly backwards.

A successful Yes campaign can help rebuild confidence that uncompromising political activism is still the way to bring about change, as much as conservatives may try to write it off.

As the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed: “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

The marriage equality campaign has so far forced major concessions from power. It has reversed the Labor Party’s support for discrimination, put the Liberal Party under unbearable pressure, and won the majority of public opinion behind the demand for equality.

Winning the Yes campaign and forcing this Liberal government to pass a bill are the final two hurdles.

Nothing is guaranteed, and we must continue to fight with as much intensity as we can until this is achieved.

The campaign shows us, and generations to come, that the best way to fight is by marching, mobilising grassroots support and forcing – not begging – politicians to take notice of us.

Equal Love will hold its final mass march for the postal survey period next Sunday 22 October at 1pm in front of the State Library of Victoria.

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