Tim Wilson, one of just three openly gay federal Liberal MPs, calls 2016 "a somewhat chaotic year."
"At the start of the year, I was Australia's Human Rights Commissioner," Wilson tells WHO. "I resigned, contested a fierce pre-selection, won, then got elected to Parliament. We've moved, and everything else in between all that, as well as trying to live a normal life."
What would make that life even more normal, Wilson says, is if he and primary school teacher Ryan Bolger, his partner of seven years, could wed in their home country. That is why on Aug. 31, as part of his inaugural speech to Parliament as the member from the Melbourne seat of Goldstein, he made a passionate plea for marriage equality.
"It was one of those times where you get to say something honestly and indulgently," says Wilson, 36. "You don't just get to say it to a small number of people at a function — you get to command the attention of the nation."
Wilson adds of thanking Bolger, 32, publicly for his support, "I was emotional about it because it is an emotional thing. Your life is being debated. This has not been easy for either of us in that context."
Now their fight for equality moves on to another stage. On Oct. 11, Labor voted down the plebiscite scheduled for Feb. 17.
"It's not always what you want things to be," Wilson concedes. "People talk about the human cost of having a plebiscite. I think it's overstated, to be frank. We're just ignoring the other human costs because in that time, there will be couples in relationships that want to get married and their partners will die, and their dreams won't be realised. We should be bringing the country together and moving forward."
So Wilson will continue his efforts. "I didn't get into Parliament for this one issue," he says, "but I am somebody who may potentially get to vote on one of the most important social reforms of our time. I am hoping that will happen sooner rather than late4, and it will never be the footnote in my political career, but you can't ignore the fact it may be a significant one."
To hear more from Tim Wilson and Ryan Bolger, pick up this week's WHO, now on newsstands.