As 2012 ushers out a landmark year for gay rights in America — including the election of the first openly gay Senator and the passing of gay marriage bills in three more states — one couple is ushering in viral fame after a wedding proposal for the record books.
On Saturday night, a Marine became the first to propose to his same-sex partner at the heart of American politics: inside the White House. U.S. Marine Corps captain Matthew Phelps popped the question to his partner Ben Schock white they toured the White House last weekend. It’s thought to be the first same-sex couple proposal at the presidential property, and certainly the first by an active member of the military.
“It wasn’t something we were trying to do,” Phelps told the Washington Post on Monday. “I just wanted to make it a special night for Ben.” The engagement comes 15 months after the military’s longstanding “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy ended, of which Phelps has spoken publicly about.
According to the Post, Phelps, 35 and an active Marine captain, met Schock two years ago but didn’t start dating until earlier this year when they both attended a LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House. The couple was celebrating their six-month anniversary by touring the White House Christmas decorations when Phelps decided to pop the question with the help of a friend. It only seemed logical to Phelps to proposition Schock, a 26-year-old nursing student, at the venue of their first date.
Schock had no hesitation in accepting the proposal, telling the Huffington Post that “Matthew has made me the happiest I’ve ever been and I am so fortunate that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.” Phelps, confident that the answer would be yes, had friends on hand to take photos and celebrate after the proposal. But they didn’t even have a chance to share their own pictures of the heartfelt moment — The American Military Partner Association quickly posted a photo to Facebook and sparked the couple’s newfound viral fame.
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The self-assured Phelps is no stranger to candidly discussing his sexuality at some of the biggest policy centers in the nation — he came out publicly last year at the Pentagon. “The best is still yet to come,” Phelps wrote on his Facebook page. He also gave a nod to public support as well as to the First Couple for the unique proposal venue. “Thanks for all the wonderful greetings and messages, and thanks to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for lending us your home for the occasion!”