Around 5000 people turned out for marriage rights across the country to mark the start of the National Year of Action — but the big news is many of them were heterosexual.
Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich said there were around 1000 people at the start of Sydney’s rally at Town Hall, but once supporters started marching along George St, the public left the pavements to join in.
“You could tell by their appearance there was a big mix of people,” Greenwich told Sydney Star Observer.
“There were mums there. There were straight as well as gay people. There was a huge age range. It was a diverse mix of people.”
Greenwich estimated at the march’s high point another 500 people had joined. Despite the negative verdict of the Senate inquiry into the Greens marriage bill and the Government threatening a veto over civil unions legislation in the ACT, the rally kept to a positive vibration.
“There wasn’t any negativity, there was a lot of hope in the crowd, and just so much energy and support for same-sex marriage,” Greenwich said.
Another 2500 turned out in Melbourne, with an estimated 300 in Brisbane. Around 200 gathered in Adelaide, while Perth had a showing of 150 and Lismore around 100.
Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) co-convenor Emilia Lawonski said the rally was a strong way to start the planned National Year of Action.
“This is the first year-long campaign of its kind in Australia’s history. We need to keep up the pressure on Rudd and his bigoted colleagues if we are to achieve full equality,” Lawonski said.
“This year is about taking our future into our own hands. We will put up the strongest fight ever seen for full equal marriage rights. If we don’t, conservative politicians will continue to trample on our basic human rights for as long as we allow it.”
Saturday’s events garnered a range of press coverage, both before and afterwards.
One day before the rally the president of the United Faculty of Theology at Melbourne University wrote in favour of civil unions in the pages of The Age.
The Rev Andrew McGowan, an Anglican minister, suggested neither civil celebrants nor priests should be responsible for creating legal contracts of marriage, but should restrict themselves to performing rituals of marriage or commitment, whether religious or secular.
“Couples should contract marriages, and other unions, in a purely civil setting, and then be able to seek appropriate forms of celebration — if any — for their needs.”