A GROUP of 21 small businesses in Bendigo are the first in regional Australia to publicly back the campaign to introduce same sex marriage.
In a full page advertisement on Page 17 of Saturday's Bendigo Advertiser, the small businesses have called on the public to "join Bendigo's growing list of regional Victorian small businesses supporting marriage equality".
The businesses followed the lead of some of Australia's biggest businesses who took out a full page advertisement in the May 29 edition of The Australian.
Lyttleton Terrace business owner Jayson Tayeh organised the effort, and said they supported moves to make sure all employees had an equal opportunity in life.
"The message I wish to convey is quite simple: I support marriage equality and so do many regional Victorian small businesses in 'my world'," he said.
"These businesses are a part of my every day and they support marriage equality."
Having seen the message sent by big business, including Telstra, Qantas, Optus and ANZ, Mr Tayeh thought small business in Bendigo could make a similar statement.
He said he received a lot of support.
"Everyone has been very receptive, everyone has been willing to have a conversation about it," he said.
"No one has put their foot down and said 'no', there's been no naysayers."
The Australian Marriage Equality Organisation will use Bendigo as an example for other regional centres in Australia to take on similar campaigns.
AME deputy director Ivan Hinton-Teoh said it was a simple way for small businesses to lead the way in the community.
"We are already talking to small business groups across the country and showing them what this group has been able to achieve in Bendigo," he said.
"If we see it take off across the country, then we'll always be able to look back on what was done in Bendigo.
"The spontaneous support from Bendigo small businesses was phenomenal."
The Labor Party introduced a bill to parliament last week seeking to replace the term "man and woman" with "two people" in relation to marriage.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.