Liberal MP Tim Wilson has proposed to his long-term partner Ryan Bolger in emotional scenes in the federal parliament ahead of the same-sex marriage bill’s final vote.
“In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands,” Mr Wilson told the parliament.
“They are the answer to the question we cannot ask. There’s only one thing left to do… Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?”
Ryan, who was watching his partner from the public gallery, replied “yes”.
In an emotional speech on the same-sex marriage bill, Wilson recalled the day he first proposed on Hamilton Island, off the Queensland coast.
“I gave you the ring on our left hand and said ‘I don’t know what this ring represents or means, but will you take it as a sign of my commitment?'” he said.
“Thankfully, the answer was yes.”
Here is the wonderful moment Liberal MP @timwilsoncomau proposed to his partner Ryan during Australia's parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage. Congratulations! #auspol #marriageequality pic.twitter.com/qLRAvtBtSk
— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) December 4, 2017
He said Ryan had pushed for an engagement party, but Wilson had been hesitant.
“The truth was I was delaying it, perhaps wrongly, because the message I took from so many people’s silent response was that no-one would come,” he said.
“On informing one person of our news they responded, ‘Why bother?’
“I was silent at the time and I’ve never had an answer to that question, but the Australian people have now answered it for me.”
— Australian House of Representatives (@AboutTheHouse) December 4, 2017
The same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate largely unchanged last week, 34 votes to 12.
The bill is expected to clear its final vote in the House of Representatives before the end of the week, paving for the way for the first same-sex weddings in January.
North Queensland MP and longtime LGBTI ally Warren Entsch (pictured below) told the parliament his decade-long journey fighting for marriage equality had initially been “very lonely” but he had remained determined.
He said that when the Howard government changed the definition of marriage to exclude same-sex couples in 2004, he “stood in the party room and questioned the decision.”
“I didn’t understand why we needed to do this. Hadn’t LGBTIQ people been through enough? Why do we need to kick them on the way out the door?” he said.
“To me, it did not make any sense, denying any Australian equal status, and the same of dignity and respect is, in my mind, completely un-Australian.”
He said the same-sex marriage bill “will take from no-one” and will simply make Australia “a kinder and fairer place.”
“Delaying equality for every Australian, whether they be from Bundaberg or Fremantle, is simply not good enough,” he said.
He said the 12 or 13 years he had been advocating for the removal of discrimination against the LGBTI community was relatively short, “compared to those Australians who have had to endure these inequalities for their entire lives.”
“Life is tough enough and sometimes very hard, and if you are lucky enough to find someone to join you in the good and the bad, well, in my mind, it’s fantastic,” he said.
“Life is too short. We must vote on this and get on with it. I wish all of those brides and all of those grooms the very, very best in their married futures.”
In his speech to the House of Representatives on Monday, Opposition leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to the advocacy of his gay colleague Penny Wong.
Shorten acknowledged the difficult choice she made in 2004, voting with Labor to support the changes to exclude same-sex couples from the Marriage Act.
“Penny, yours has often been a lonely road and a hard road,” Shorten said.
“It is the merging of the personal and political in ways that some of us who vote here will never have to contemplate. In 2011, your advocacy, along with others, changed our platform.
“In the years to come, Sophie will be able to tell your children about the time that their mum helped change Australia.”