Sudney, Australia — Lawmakers in Australia’s House of Representatives came ready on Monday for a final debate on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.
But one member had a particularly important question prepared: a proposal to his long-term partner.
In a speech, Tim Wilson, an openly gay member of Parliament with the center-right Liberal party, spoke emotionally of the struggles he and his partner, Ryan Bolger, had encountered as a gay couple.
“This debate has been the soundtrack to our relationship,” he said.
While they already considered themselves engaged, the rings they wore on their left hands, he said, were their answers to a question that they once could not ask.
“So there’s only one thing left to do,” Wilson said, his voice choking. He turned to the public gallery, where Bolger was sitting. “Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?”
The answer from Bolger, who broke into a smile, came loud and clear. As the chamber applauded, the deputy speaker, Rob Mitchell, made sure it would go down in history.
“I should let Hansard note to record that that was a ‘Yes’ - resoundingly,” Mitchell said, referring to Parliament’s official record of transcripts. “Congratulations.”
Full passage of the same-sex marriage bill, which has drawn widespread, cross-party support, would make history in Australia.
The bill easily passed the Senate last Wednesday without amendment following a debate on whether it included enough religious freedom provisions.
The bill gained momentum earlier this month after Australians voted decisively in a nonbinding referendum in favor of making same-sex marriage legal.
The measure is expected to pass its last test in a vote in the House of Representatives by the end of the week.
Wilson’s proposal also made history in another way. Officials from the House of Representatives noted on Twitter that he was also the first member of Parliament to ever propose in the chamber.
New York Times