MP's 'epic' same-sex marriage speech praised

By Paul Harper

The legalisation of same-sex marriages in New Zealand has made headlines around the world - and one National MP's speech has become a sensation.

New Zealand has become the 13th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, after the Marriage Amendment Bill was passed 77 votes to 44 last night.

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson's speech in the debate, in which he described "the most enormous big gay rainbow" across his electorate yesterday morning, was hailed by Gawker as "a speech for the ages".

"After warming up the crowd with some jokes about a Catholic priest who chided Williamson for 'supporting an unnatural act' despite having 'taken an oath of celibacy' himself, and the unlikelihood that he (Williamson) will 'burn in the fires of hell for eternity' given his 'body weight and humidity,' the lawmaker got down to brass tacks," Gawker's Neetzan Zimmerman wrote, before going on to quote more from Williamson's speech.

The Huffington Post also commended Williamson's "epic" speech, calling his comments "jovial, though nonetheless poignant".

Williamson's humorous speech has also been posted on numerous blogs and shared across social media. It has 25,000 hits on YouTube.

The singing of Pokarekare Ana after the bill was passed also impressed overseas commentators.

"Good old New Zealand. They get everything right. Universal suffrage, The Lord of the Rings, and now this. Plus their House of Commons speaker sounds exactly like Murray out of Flight of the Conchords. The song is called Pokarekare Ana, and it's apparently a Maori love song," wrote Tom Chivers, the assistant comment editor of Britain's Telegraph.

Across the ditch, the passing of the bill has campaigners wondering why once again New Zealand is leading their Trans-Tasman neighbours on social issues.

The national director of Australian Marriage Equality Rodney Croome told the Sydney Morning Herald the vote was a "game changer".

Croome said as many as 1000 Australian same-sex couples would come to New Zealand to get married, although these marriages would not be recognised under Australian law.

"Now that marriage equality is only three hours away there will be a flood of couples flying to New Zealand," he told the SMH.

However, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard reiterated her opposition to legalising gay marriage despite New Zealand's historic vote.

The legalisation of gay marriage also caught the attention of well-known marriage equality campaigners overseas, with many taking to Twitter to send their celebrations to New Zealand.

"It's a big day for Kiwis! New Zealand's marriage equality bill passed! Also, Portia just made me a tropical fruit salad," lesbian TV host Ellen De Generes wrote.

"#NewZealand has legalized gay marriage. First country in the Asia-Pacific region. #MovingForward!" wrote Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President Bill Clinton.

"New Zealand has just passed same sex marriage! Beautiful... Congrats to everyone that has been working towards equality #samelove," rapper Macklemore wrote.

- nzherald.co.nz

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