As the United Kingdom legalized marriage equality, Liberal Democrat party activists Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling partook in the government’s newly sanctioned marriage equality bill and got engaged. The couple has been together for fifteen years, but have not joined in a civil union.
“I knew when it was passed by the Lords that the final hurdle had been overcome and would become law,” Fordham said in an interview with The Independent.
After the bill was approved, Fordham proposed in front of everyone.
“I had two rings in my pockets: my great-grandfather’s wedding ring which was rather small and my father’s 21st birthday present which was rather larger. I was just hoping one of them would fit,” Fordham said.
“I was there thinking I’ve got to get this right. I’m not doing it for show. And then the choir that were there started singing an Erasure track and I thought ‘right’—and went down on one knee and bingo I was there.”
Eagling was astonished by his partner’s gesture.
“It was a complete surprise—if anything can be a complete surprise if you’ve been together for 15 years—but I honestly had no inkling it was coming,” Eagling recalled.
Liberal Democrat MP Julian Hubbert mentioned the couple’s proposal at the House of Commons the next day.
“This is a monumental day for many people; be they straight, gay, lesbian or bi, they will benefit from the freedoms and opportunities in the Bill,” Hubbert said. “Perhaps the whole House will join me in congratulating Ed Fordham, who last night got engaged to his partner, Russell Eagling.”
Friends with the Deputy Minister Nick Clegg and his wife, they have been active in the Liberal Democrats for several years.
“On a personal note, congratulations to my friend & @LGBTLD Vice-Chair @edfordham who is getting married!” Clegg tweeted.
The couple will be taking their time, as they don’t want to tie the knot just yet. Nonetheless, the announced their engagement in the UK publication The Times, its first for a same-sex couple.
“The engagement is announced between Edward, son of Mr and Mrs Fordham of Spalding, Lincolnshire, and Russell, son of Mr and Mrs Eagling of Southwell, Nottinghamshire,” read the announcement.
In the future, they plan to have their wedding at a Unitarian church. Fordham jokingly described them as the “Lib Dems at prayer” but still believe in the importance of marriage equality.
“I’m a family historian and I want our marriage recognized in records,” Fordham said. “I don’t want family members to say that was uncle Ed and that bloke who lived with him. I want them to say that was uncle Ed and uncle Russell.”