An Australian MP has proposed to his partner during a parliamentary debate on legalising same-sex marriage.
Tim Wilson’s proposal to Ryan Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery, was met with a loud “yes” – reaffirming a commitment they made nine years ago.
The House of Representatives began debating the bill on Monday, five days after it was passed in the Senate. Mr Wilson is believed to be the first MP to propose on the floor of the house, officials said.
“In my first speech, I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands. They [the rings] are the answer to the question we cannot ask,” an emotional Mr Wilson said in his speech.
“So there is only one thing left to do. Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?” The question drew cheers and applause. The speaker congratulated the pair, before confirming that Mr Bolger’s response had been officially recorded in Hansard.
Mr Wilson said the protracted national debate on same-sex marriage had been the “soundtrack” to their relationship. Earlier, the government MP spoke about his own experience growing up as a gay teenager and struggling with a stigma surrounding homosexuality.
“This bill rams a stake into the heart of that stigma and its legacy,” he said. Mr Wilson is among 77 MPs who will speak on the bill. A vote is likely to happen this week unless there are significant amendments.
Conservative politicians are expected to suggest amendments to the bill, such as additional exemptions for celebrants who refuse to marry same-sex couples. The Senate rejected such amendments in its debate last week. Last month, Australians decisively supported same-sex marriage in a national vote.