SYDNEY – Australian Liberal MP Tim Wilson proposed on Monday to his long term partner in Parliament shortly after the lower house agreed to proceed with the project to legalize same-sex marriage.
At the beginning of the debate, Wilson, from the same party as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said in a faltering voice: “So there’s only one thing left to do; Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?”
“Yes,” Bolger – his partner for nine years – replied from the public gallery.
The House of Representatives debated the legislative proposal, which is expected to be approved before Christmas, after the bill received the Senate’s approval last week.
As requested by several conservative MPs, the legislative proposal will allow religious wedding officiants to oppose the same-sex marriages, but civil celebrants will not be permitted to do so.
The parliamentary debate began after more than 61 percent of Australians expressed support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in a non-binding postal vote convened by Turnbull in fulfillment of one of his election promises.
The result of the vote paved the way to the project to reform the Marriage Act of 1961, which was modified in 2004 to specify that marriage is exclusive between a woman and a man.
In December 2013, the High Court overturned a law allowing same-sex weddings in the Australian Capital Territory on the grounds that it was in breach of the 1961 Federal Marriage Act.
Similar legislative proposals have also failed in the states of Tasmania and New South Wales.