Heated debate this morning amongst delegates at Labor’s Annual Conference saw them decide on a conscience vote for marriage equality, meaning thousands of colourful marchers in Sydney this afternoon had a little to be happy about – but a lot to still hope for.
Early reports suggested there were 10,000 people involved in the march, but later estimates put it at around 6,000. Either way, this was Australia’s largest marriage equality march yet.
Shouting their slogans and waving rainbow-coloured signs, the throng weaved its way from Hyde Park to Darling Harbour, stopping traffic and earning applause and smiles from passers-by.
Here’s our photos from today’s Marriage Equality Rally:
LABOR MPs WILL EACH GET A VOTE
After strong speeches by same-sex marriage advocates within Labor, including Finance Minister Penny Wong and ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr balancing out anti-gay-marriage speakers including Union leader Joe de Bruyn, the vote was tight – 208 delegates voted to OK a conscience vote for gay marriage, with 184 against.
But this still leaves the possible reform of the Marriage Act in peril. Since some in Labor will vote against the measure, there will need to be extra support for it coming from the other side of the political landscape. However, opposition leader Tony Abbott has already stated has coalition would not have a conscience vote on the issue, meaning his MPs would vote ‘no’ all together.
“We are disappointed Labor MPs have been given a conscience vote but the momentum for change is unstoppable because marriage equality is an issue which resonates with fundamental Australian values like fairness and inclusion,” summed up Australian Marriage Equality National Convener Alex Greenwich today.
“A major obstacle to reform has been removed and we are prepared to face the new challenge we have been given of achieving reform with a Labor conscience vote.”
Greenwich suggests there is more support for marriage equality in Coalition ranks than many people believe and has called on Abbott to allow a conscience vote.
“Marriage equality is not about left versus right, it is about love and commitment, which are values we all hold dear.”
Both the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor’s Stephen Jones have now promised to introduce a bill to amend the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples when parliament returns next year.