US Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps likely made history on Saturday when he proposed to his boyfriend, Ben Schock, in the Grand Foyer of the White House at the end of a holiday tour.
In doing so, Phelps, 35, and Shock, 26, are likely the first gay men to get engaged inside the White House — also a first for an active-duty member of the US military, reports ABC News.
A transgender man proposed to his partner earlier this year in the East Room of the home of the nation’s commander-in-chief. Phelps stated of the proposal:
“Our first date was to the White House, so I wanted to propose to him there. When I got invited to the holiday tour — six months to the day that we had been there on our first date — it was way too much of a coincidence to pass up.”
The special moment between the Marine and his boyfriend was captured on camera by several people in their tour group. Some of the images of the proposal have gone viral as well. The New York Daily News notes that Matthew Phelps later took to Facebook to announce the couple’s engagement. He posted a photo of the occasion and wrote:
“Such a special night surrounded by wonderful people in an amazing place, and the best is still yet to come with Ben Schock. Thanks for all the wonderful greetings and messages, and thanks to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for lending us your home for the occasion!”
Despite the happy occasion, the Marine and his boyfriend — now fiance — still face some hurdles in their upcoming marriage. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Department of Defense will not recognize the couple’s marriage. Phelps explained:
“I’m expecting to get order to Japan next summer, but as of right now, because they’re not going to recognize Ben as my spouse, they’re not going to pay for him to accompany me; he’s not going to have any health care coverage; and, he’s not going to have access to the base while I’m gone.”