Melbourne's rallyOn Saturday, 15 August, over 2,500 people rallied in Melbourne in support of marriage equality.

The rally marked the 11th anniversary of the changes to the Marriage Act that ban same-sex marriages. Happening just days after Tony Abbott failed to allow his party a conscience vote, the rally also served as a protest against this decision.

At the rally, Bill Shorten, the opposition leader, spoke to a crowd of around 2,500 people. He said “This week, Mr. Abbott and his right wing Liberals broke the heart of the nation—they are holding Australia back. What he didn’t tell Australians is he believes in his own conscience and he will force everyone to agree with his conscience—that is not good enough.”

Also speaking at the rally was Federal Greens MP, Adam Bandt. He stated, “Tony Abbott chose fear over love, and for that, he has signed his government’s death warrant.” Echoing the sentiments that many others feel towards the Prime Minister, Bandt went on to say, “Never again, never again do I want to be lectured by this Prime Minister about freedom and choice and never again do I want to hear this Prime Minister say he believes in equality and care when he has shown himself to be the Prime Minister for Prejudice.”

Both leaders believe that the suggestion of a plebiscite would waste taxpayer funds and would like to see legislation pass.

The Prime Minister decided that a referendum after the next election might be the best option. This is coming just three months after he ruled against one.

He stated that “There are essentially two options for us going into the next election. One option would be to say our position is that we support the traditional position that marriage is between a man and a woman but should this go in the next Parliament, there would be a free vote. The other option is we support the existing position that marriage is between a man and a woman but to put this matter beyond doubt, to settle this matter once and for all in the next term of Parliament, we will put it to the people for the people to decide.”

Liberal MP Warren Entsch is expected to introduce a co-sponsored marriage equality bill before Parliament today. It is not expected to be voted on.

Convenor of the New South Ways Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Justin Koonin has said about the marriage equality debate that “It has played a part in making Australia a more tolerant, more diverse society.” and that “there is a significant number of people who understand what the right side of history is.”

Polls continue to show that more Australians are supporting marriage equality each day.