Liberal Member of Parliament Tim Wilson has taken the opportunity to propose marriage to his partner Ryan Bolger during parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage laws. While speaking on the issue Mr Wilson took a personal moment to ask his long time partner to marry him.
Mr Wilson referred to the same-sex marriage debate as the soundtrack to his own relationship. Whilst getting increasingly emotional during his speech, Mr Wilson turned to his partner in the public gallery and popped the question.
The proposal was met with loud applause from both sides of the house as Ryan Bolger, a 33 year old school teacher agreed to marry Mr Wilson. Whilst the couple was engaged for 9 years prior to the speech, the growing likelihood that their union can be legally recognised prompted Mr Wilson to reaffirm their commitment to each other.
The law to allow same-sex couples to marry was easily passed through the senate last week with a vote of 43 to 12. This Monday it was introduced to the House of Representatives with wide expectations it will pass just as easily.
The legislation is one that the majority of Australians have been found to support. With 80% of eligible voters participating in a national survey earlier this year, 61% of respondents agreed that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to get married. Only about 38% of respondents said no to the change of law.
This quick passing of this legislation follows a promise by the Turnbull government to pass same-sex marriage quality through legal channels by Christmas. The Turnbull government is hoping that the facilitation of marriage quality will become part of the administration’s lasting legacy.
Mr Wilson used his speech to thank his partner for their ongoing support of him through his political career in which for much of it was difficult to be openly homosexual. Mr Wilson described the mixed reactions he got from loved ones when he first announced his engagement and hopes that the passing of this legislation will help normalise same-sex relationships for more Australians.
The debate in the House of Representatives will see a re-visiting of proposed amendments to the marriage quality bill. Supporters of the amendments claim that they are designed to protect conscious objectors to marriage equality from anti-discrimination laws.
These amendments were soundly rejected in the senate last week and are expected not to perform better in the House of Representatives.
Mr Wilsons’ proposal in parliament delivers an emotional bookend to marriage equality in Australia that appropriately reflects the human impact this legislation will have.