Lawmaker proposes during Australian same-sex marriage debate

In this combination of images made video from Australia's Parliament TV, Australian lawmaker Tim Wilson, right, proposes to his gay partner Ryan Patrick Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery, at Parliament in Canberra, Australia, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Wilson was giving a speech on same-sex marriage and proposed to Bolger during Parliament's debate on a bill that is expected to soon legalize marriage equality across the country. (Parliament TV via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian lawmaker giving a speech on same-sex marriage proposed to his gay partner Monday during Parliament's debate on a bill that is expected to soon legalize marriage equality across the country.

Tim Wilson, a 37-year-old lawmaker in the conservative coalition government, was among the first lawmakers to join the House of Representatives debate and toward the end of his speech popped the question to his partner of seven years Ryan Bolger, who was watching from the public gallery.

"In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands, and they are the answer to a question we cannot ask," an emotional Wilson said, referring to the first time he addressed the Parliament last year.

"There's only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?" Wilson added to applause.

The 33-year-old primary school teacher responded "yes," which was recorded in the official parliamentary record.

The House of Representatives is holding its final two-week session of the year, which is giving priority to lifting the ban on same-sex marriage ion Australia. The major parties want the legislation passed this week after a majority of Australian's endorsed change in a postal ballot last month.

The Senate last week approved the bill and rejected all proposed amendments that would have increased legal protections for those who would discriminate against gay couples on religious grounds.

But several lawmakers including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull intend to persist with amendments rejected by the Senate.

Turnbull, a gay marriage supporter, says he wants wedding celebrants, not just those affiliated with churches, to have the right to refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages.

If the House of Representatives supported such an amendment, then the altered bill would have to return to the Senate for ratification, delaying the reform.

Turnbull told Parliament that while nothing in the bill threatened religious freedoms, he wanted more reassurances for the millions of Australians who oppose marriage equality.

"We must not fail to recognize that there is sincere, heartfelt anxiety about the bill's impact on religious freedom," Turnbull said.

"That is why I will support several amendments to the bill which will provide that additional reassurance in respect of their fundamental rights and freedoms," he added.

Warren Entsch, a long-term advocate of marriage equality within the conservative government, helped draft the bill and was the first to speak for it in the House on Monday.

"The bill which the Senate passed is a robust bill, a whole range of religious protections are already in place," Entsch said in introducing the bill.

"We have made sure that we have removed any element of discrimination in this bill while ensuring that religious freedoms are protected," he added.

Entsch said related amendments to bolster freedoms of speech and education rights could be debated in a separate bill next year and should not be sued to delay the reform.

"Australians are sick of excuses and they're sick of delays," Entsch said.

A nonbinding postal survey found that 62 percent of Australian respondents wanted gay marriage to be legal. Almost 80 percent of Australia's registered voters took part in the two-month survey. Most gay marriage opponents accept that the Parliament has an overwhelming mandate to make the change.

While marriage equality could become law this week, state marriage registries say they would not have the paperwork to proceed with weddings until January.

You may also interested in

Hospitality done: It's nearly game time for...

Aug 25, 2017

Stanford and Rice are nearly ready to kick off the 2017 college football season in Sydney, Australia

Passengers describe terror aboard Indonesia...

Oct 16, 2017

Passengers on an Indonesia AirAsia flight from Australia to the holiday island of Bali described a...

Australian car-making ends with last GM plant...

Oct 20, 2017

The last mass-produced car designed and built in Australia has rolled off General Motors Co.'s...

Gay marriage becomes law in Australia; weddings...

Dec 8, 2017

Gay marriage in Australia has become a law as the prime minister gained a final signature on a bill...

Marsh brothers score centuries, emulate Waugh...

Jan 7, 2018

So often the subject of criticism regarding selection in the Australian test cricket team, Shaun...

People also read these

The Latest: Last car built in Australia rolls off...

Oct 20, 2017

The last mass-produced car designed and built in Australia has rolled off General Motors Co.'s...

Stokes provisionally named in England's one-day...

Dec 6, 2017

Allrounder Ben Stokes has been provisionally included in England's 16-man squad for a five-match...

2 couples tie the knot in Australia's 1st...

Dec 17, 2017

Australia has recorded its first same-sex weddings under its new legislation allowing such...

Australia win final Ashes test to clinch series...

Jan 8, 2018

Australia thrashed England by an innings and 123 runs to win the fifth and final Ashes test at the...

AP interview: Qatar Air CEO sees growth despite...

Feb 13, 2018

AP interview: Qatar Airways chief executive says carrier will post an annual loss amid a boycott by...

Diver Haven is brought to you by a team of tech-savvy diving enthusiasts. Diver of all walks of life be it recreational to professional, scuba or freedivers are always welcome.

Contact us: sales@diverhaven.com