Moments after a bill paving the way for same-sex marriage was introduced, a lawmaker from Australia's conservative ruling party proposed to his gay partner in parliament on Monday. Tim Wilson, who has been engaged to Ryan Bolger for nine years, couldn’t hold his tears back as he thanked his fiancé for enduring a marriage debate that "has been the soundtrack to our relationship".
The 37-year-old asked, "So there is only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger will you marry me?"
Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery, quickly responded "yes" amidst a huge round of applause.
"That was a 'yes', a resounding 'yes'," house speaker Rob Mitchell noted for the record.
The same-sex marriage bill is expected to comfortably pass through the House of Representatives before Christmas. The upper house Senate has already voted in its favour last week. The Australians emphatically endorsed gay marriage in a recent nationwide postal vote in November after more than a decade of debate.
Shortly after the bill was introduced for debate in the lower house, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, "This is a historic moment of inclusion, of recognition, of respect. This is a day to be especially proud that all of our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours, our brothers, our sisters, can marry the people they love."
Former conservative 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.
Abbott moved an amendment which protected discrimination against anyone over their "conscientious view about the nature of marriage", before he planned to attend his gay sister's wedding in 2018.