Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Melbourne's CBD to rally in support of marriage equality.
By Stephen Johnson from The Australian
Thousands of demonstrators have marched in seven Australian cities almost eight years after the Howard government passed the Marriage Amendment Bill to deny gay couples marriage rights.
But with two marriage equality bills before federal parliament, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill told a rally in Adelaide he would legislate for gay marriage at a state level.
On the steps of Parliament House, Mr Weatherill said he would support a Greens bill and allow Labor MPs a conscience vote.
"People should be entitled to express their own identity in any way they wish and the law shouldn't become a barrier to prevent them from doing that," he said."So, from my perspective, it's a simple question of the dignity of the individual.
"People should be entitled to express their identity in any way they wish and the law shouldn't get in the way."
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings addressed a rally in Hobart after announcing last week that her state would legislate its own marriage laws and be prepared for a High Court challenge.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill addressing the rally on the steps of Parliament.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore urged federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to allow Liberal MPs a conscience vote.
"He should vote to enable a new sister-in-law to become part of his family," Ms Moore told a 300-strong crowd braving wet and windy conditions in eastern Sydney's Oxford Street gay district.
"Because legislating for marriage equality brings families together. He should realise that."
Mr Abbott's sister Christine Forster, who is in a lesbian relationship, is running for City of Sydney Council on the Liberal Party ticket and supports gay marriage.
In Melbourne, federal Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt told thousands of demonstrators the Australian electorate favoured gay marriage.
"People are very relaxed about two people who love each other getting married regardless of their gender or sexuality," Mr Bandt said.
"It's about time the rest of the Australian parliament caught up with the Australian public."
In Brisbane, federal Labor MP Graham Perrett told about 2000 demonstrators that "equal love belongs to all Queenslanders and all Australians" and would prevent young gay people from harming themselves.
Mr Perrett, who has two gay brothers, chaired a parliamentary committee examining bills which propose changing the federal Marriage Act.
In the ACT, Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the territory's Civil Unions Bill was set to pass the Legislative Assembly when debated next week.
The Greens had previously hesitated to support the bill on grounds it could undercut the push for a national marriage equality law but are now backing the proposal.
The ACT passed civil union laws in 2006 but they were overturned by the Howard government.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich told the Sydney rally that individual states and territories could legislate gay marriage "if the federal government fails the aspirations of our nation".
In June, a Senate committee recommended that federal parliament pass legislation to allow same-sex marriage.