Same-sex marriage is expected to be legalised in Australia within weeks
An Australian politician has proposed to his partner in Parliament during a speech in support of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Nearing the end of his speech in the Australian House of Representatives, Liberal MP Tim Wilson turned to his partner Ryan Bolger - who was sitting in the public gallery:
"There's only one thing left to do," he said, choking up slightly. "Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?"
He was not disappointed as Mr Bolger responded with a clear “yes.”
Officials in the House of Representatives believe that it was the first marriage proposal ever to be heard on the house floor.
In a historical postal survey in November, 61.6% of Australian voters came out in support of the legalisation of same-sex marriage – following in the footsteps of the people of Ireland, the US, Canada and New Zealand.
Although the survey was not legally binding, 80% of the population took part - sending a resounding message to Parliament that the people want to see marriage equality introduced.
Following the vote, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he hoped to pass marriage equality legislation by the end of the year.
Even former conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott - a leading voice of opposition to the legalisation - said he would back the Marriage Amendment Bill.
He told the House that was looking forward to the marriage of his gay sister, Christine, to her partner Virginia sometime in the new year.
The upper house Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation last week - and it is expected to comfortably pass through the House of Representatives before Christmas.
Mr Wilson and Mr Bolger have considered themselves engaged for years, however with debate on same-sex marriage legislation expected to conclude by Wednesday or Thursday - their big day is now closer than ever before.
Earlier in his speech, Mr Wilson spoke of the day he first presented Mr Bolger with the rings the pair have worn on their left hands for years.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what this ring represents, but will you take it as a sign of my commitment,” he said. “Thankfully the answer was yes.”
He said the joy of the moment was always tempered by the fact that the pair could not follow through on their promise – with many of their friends unsure how to react.
“Ryan kept pushing for an engagement party,” he said. “The truth was, I kept delaying it, perhaps wrongly, because the strong message that I took from so many people’s silence was that no one would come.”
He said some people did not reply to his text messages – while one person asked him “why bother?”
With the legislation expected to pass easily this week, the barriers to the pair's happiness will be soon be removed.
“You have had to tolerate more than most because you had to put up with me,” said Mr Wilson.
“This debate has been the soundtrack to our relationship.
“We both know this debate is not the reason we got involved in politics - give us tax reform any day.
“In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands. They are the answer to the questions that we cannot ask.
“So there is only one thing left to do. Ryan Patrick Bolger will you marry me?”
After his emotional proposal, the house speaker called for it to be officially recorded that the answer was a “resounding ‘yes.’”