Australian lawmaker proposes to same-sex partner on floor of parliament

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An Australian conservative politician on Monday proposed to his long-term partner on the floor of parliament, ahead of the expected passage of a measure for same sex couples to marry.

Australians overwhelmingly voted for same-sex marriage in a postal vote in September and a marriage equality bill that passed the senate last week is being debated in the lower house, where it is expected to pass this week.

Liberal member of parliament Tim Wilson proposed to his partner Ryan Bolger in the capital of Canberra, the two having already exchanged rings but having pledged to wait for the country to pass the legislation before they wed.

"This debate has been the soundtrack to our relationship," an emotional Wilson said to his partner, seated in parliament's public viewing area above.

RELATED: Australia says 'yes' to same-sex marriage 

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Australia says 'yes' to same-sex marriage
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Australia says 'yes' to same-sex marriage
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the same-sex marriage 'Yes' vote gather to celebrate the announcement in a Sydney park on November 15, 2017. Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, official results showed on November 15, sending the task of legalising marriage equality to a deeply divided parliament. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Magda Szubanski share a moment upon hearing the result announcement on November 15, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote claiming 61.6% to to 38.4% for No vote. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Ian Thorpe, former Olympic gold medalist swimmer, stands with other supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
A supporter of the 'Yes' vote holds a colourful flag as he celebrates after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote hug each other as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Supporters of the same-sex marriage 'Yes' vote gather to celebrate the announcement in a Sydney park on November 15, 2017. Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, official results showed on November 15, sending the task of legalising marriage equality to a deeply divided parliament. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Rebecca Davies and her partner Paula Van Bruggen celebrate in the crowd as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Supporters of the same-sex marriage 'Yes' vote gather to celebrate the announcement in a Sydney park on November 15, 2017. Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, official results showed on November 15, sending the task of legalising marriage equality to a deeply divided parliament. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Rebecca Davies and her partner Paula Van Bruggen kiss as they celebrate in the crowd as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: David Bryant and Nick Higgins celebrate the result announcement on November 15, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote claiming 61.6% to to 38.4% for No vote. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
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"In our first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands, that they are the answer to the question we cannot ask. So there’s only one thing left to do - Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?" asked Wilson, who was formerly Australia's human rights commissioner.

Bolger nodded yes, to applause.

Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition government and the main opposition Labor Party have said they aim to pass the law by Dec. 7, but any proposed amendments could stretch out that timeline.

Passage of the bill will make Australia the 26th nation to legalize same-sex marriage, a watershed for a country in which some states considered homosexual activity illegal until 1997.

"This is an issue of fundamental fairness," Turnbull said to parliament later on Monday. "A society that promotes freedom and equality under the law should accord gay men and women the right to marriage."

About 80 percent of eligible voters participated in the voluntary survey, a turnout larger than for Britain's Brexit vote and Ireland's same-sex marriage referendum.

"The message today, to every gay person in this nation, is clear," Turnbull added. "We love you, we respect you, your relationship is recognized by the Commonwealth as legitimate and honorable as anybody else's."

(Reporting by Melanie Burton Additional reporting by SONALI PAUL in MelbourneEditing by Clarence Fernandez)

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