Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Australian MP proposes to gay partner in parliament

AFP, SYDNEY

Australian MP Tim Wilson proposes to his partner, Ryan Bolger, not pictured, in parliament in Canberra yesterday.

Photo: AFP / Australian Parliament via Seven News

A gay Australian lawmaker yesterday popped the question in parliament, proposing to his partner moments after a bill paving the way for same-sex marriage was introduced.

Australian MP Tim Wilson, who has been engaged to Ryan Bolger for nine years, fought back tears as he thanked his fiance for enduring a marriage debate that “has been the soundtrack to our relationship.”

“In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands — that they are the answer to the questions we cannot ask,” the 37-year-old lawmaker from the ruling conservative party said.

“So there is only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?” Wilson said.

Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery, quickly responded “yes” as the floor erupted in applause.

“That was a ‘yes,’ a resounding ‘yes,’” Australian House of Representative Speaker Rob Mitchell said for the record. “Congratulations, well done mate.”

Wilson earlier emotionally recalled the uneasiness he experienced with some friends when he and Bolger were first engaged.

“Many simply didn’t know how to react. Many SMS went unresponded. In conversations some people politely changed the topic, or fell silent entirely,” he said.

His partner had pushed him to have an engagement party.

“On informing one person of our news, they responded: Why bother? At the time I fell silent and I have never had an answer to that question, but the Australian people have now answered that for me,” Wilson said.

The same-sex marriage bill being debated is expected to comfortably pass through the Australian House of Representatives before Christmas after the upper house Senate last week overwhelmingly voted in its favor.

After more than a decade of debate, Australians last month emphatically endorsed gay marriage in a nationwide postal vote, with about 62 percent of the 12.7 million who took part voting “yes.”

“This is a historic moment of inclusion, of recognition, of respect,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said shortly after the bill was introduced for debate in the lower house yesterday.

“This is a day to be especially proud that all of our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors, our brothers, our sisters can marry the people they love,” he said.

Former conservative Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, a leading voice in the ‘no’ campaign, said he would now back the bill.

“I certainly don’t pretend to be an overnight convert to support same-sex marriage, but I am pledged to respect and to facilitate the verdict of the Australian people,” he said. “Same-sex marriage should now be recognized.”

Abbott moved an amendment he said protected discrimination against anyone over their “conscientious view about the nature of marriage,” before saying he planned to attend his gay sister’s wedding next year.

“I am looking forward to attending the marriage of my sister, Christine, to her partner, Virginia, some time early in the new year,” he said.

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