Australian Gays Protest For Marriage Rights by Peter Hacker 365Gay.com Sydney, Australia Bureau Posted: August 14, 2005 4:00 pm ET (Sydney, Australia) More than a thousand gays and lesbians demonstrated in cities across Australia on the weekend for the right to marry. The event was called a "National Day Of Action" and coincided with the first anniversary of the Marriage Amendment Act which banned the recognition of overseas same-sex marriages and defined marriage in Australia as between one woman and one man. “Our families contribute to the nation like every other family yet they are still being denied the right to marry or the ability form federal de facto relationships” said Australia Marriage Equality national convenor Luke Gahan. In Sydney about 600 same-sex couples wearing pink hearts marched through the city's gay neighborhood to Hyde Park for a rally. "Last year's marriage ban was a statement based on discrimination and prejudice against lesbians and gay men, it was statement which said that our love is not equal," said Julie McConnell, one of the organizers of the Sydney event. "Pink hearts show that our relationships with each other and our children are equal and deserve full legal equality," she said. In Melbourne, about 400 people celebrated as same-sex couples took "midwinter vows" in a mock mass wedding. "There is no reason that same-sex couples in Australia continue to be denied any legal recognition under federal law," said Gahan. Same-sex marriage is legal in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and the state of Massachusetts. Even though it will not be legal in Australia Gahan will marry his fiancé Matthew Culleton on in September in Vancouver, Canada. Gahan said he and Culleton will live in Canada legally married for one year adding that when they return home they hope the law is changed. A recent survey of the Victorian Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community reported that 98% participants wanted some form of legal recognition to be available for same sex couples, with 80% nominating marriage as the preferred status.