At least eight same-sex couples couples said “I do” in a mass illegal wedding ceremony today on the steps of Melbourne's Old Treasury Building.
More than 3,000 people attended Equal Love's annual mass protest on Saturday, August 11 at the in the Melbourne CBD.
The protest, which began with a rally at the State Library, was held in cities across Australia, has been an annual event since the Howard Government changed the Marriage Act to say that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.
“The dam is about to burst,” Adam Bandt, Federal MP for Melbourne, urging the crowd to contact their MP about three marriage equality bills in Parliament.
The Senate bill, introduced by Greens Sarah Hanson-Young, seeks to remove all discriminatory references from the Marriage Act to allow all people the opportunity to marry. A second House bill has been put forward by Greens Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie.
Doug Pollard from JOY FM argued that the legislation would mean that “no one will be able to stuff us in a closet again” while Ryan Hsu from the NTEU shamed the parliament for the “blood on its hands” concerning the high gay suicide rate.
On a lighter note, PRIZES were awarded for best placard on the day. Colourful placards ranging from “It's legal in New York” to “How long are we going to have to continue this sh*t?” Top prize was given to “We cantaloupe”.
Michael Ross performed 'Equal Love', a catchy song he wrote about the political history of the marriage equality act.
After the rally, protestors marched through the CBD to the Old Treasury Building for a mass illegal wedding ceremony conducted by Father Greg Reynolds. He reminded the crowd he was a “real priest performing the ceremony on real couples.”
Not all religious leaders agree with Father Reynold's actions. Sale Bishop Christopher Prowse, one of six Catholic bishops who signed an anti-gay marriage letter last autumn said that male-female marriage is “part of the natural order”.
Indeed, sentiment about gay marriage is strong on both sides of the issue. In a national webcast last week, John Anderson, former Deputy Prime Minister, said “I believe there are very powerful public policy reasons why we should be defending marriage over and above the reasons derived from our beliefs.”
But the Australian Marriage Equality website states that the majority of Australians disagree with Mr Anderson. A poll released this week showed support for marriage equality was at its highest level ever of 64% (details here)
Equal Love plans to continue to hold rallies until same-sex marriage is legalised at the federal level.
Squirrel Main is a journalism student at the University of Melbourne and a news presenter on JOY 94.9. Interviews from this article were digitally recorded and replayed on the news program at JOY 94.9.