Gay marriage supporters surged through Australia’s capital cities by the thousands last weekend to remind the country’s political leaders that they were still committed to reform. Cities including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth held their first rallies since the federal and Tasmanian parliaments knocked back three same-sex marriage bills.

Equal Love convenor Ali Hogg estimated about 1.500 supporters in Melbourne over the weekend, down from 3,000 in August.

But Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome, who attended both the Sydney and Melbourne rallies, said the mood was optimistic and upbeat about the future with four state and territory governments pushing for marriage equality within the year.

“It sent a strong message that marriage equality supporters are still enthusiastic about reform and that they’re still committed to achieving equality,” Croome told the Star Observer.

He said everyday conversations about the issue “were the key to successes seen recently in the United States and they’ll be the key to success here”.

In Brisbane, psychologist Paul Martin said marriage equality supporters may be feeling beaten after the recent parliamentary losses but encouraged Queenslanders to speak with politicians.

“Politicians need to hear human stories to sway their opinions [and] touch their hearts,” he said.

Down in Melbourne, Equal Love’s Anthony Wallace said the rallies were key to future change.

“The only reason [the marriage bills] were debated and the only reason the vote even occurred was because you will come out time and time again to demand change,” he said.

INFO: Check out our photos from the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane rallies.

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