Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Grey-haired conservatives take the cake in debate

Dr Paul Hutchison
Dr Paul Hutchison

The gay marriage debate was set alight by three unlikely heroes - all of them grey-haired, conservative MPs.

Speeches by the National Party's Paul Hutchison, Chris Auchinvole and Maurice Williamson eclipsed efforts by younger, liberal counterparts.

In the first reading in August, Dr Hutchison became the first MP to change his stance on the bill.

He had told the Herald the day before that he would vote against the bill. But after a late-night phone call to the bill's sponsor, Louisa Wall, he changed his mind.

Dr Hutchison told Parliament in his speech: "I have thought long and hard about it, and despite ... many attempts, I simply cannot construct a strong enough intellectual, moral, health, or even spiritual argument against it. Consequently, I will be voting for the bill."

At the second reading in March, Mr Auchinvole, a National list MP, recalled the catechism that he recited as a 7-year-old in Glasgow.

"Who made you? God made me. Why did God make you? God made me to know him and love him. The third question: What image did God make you in? The answer: God made me in his own image.

"Every 7-year-old boy and girl said the same and believed it was true. They did not have to add: as long as I conform to being heterosexual, and not to loving anyone of the same gender as myself."

Mr Auchinvole, 68, immediately trended on Twitter - something he later admitted he did not understand.

But all contributions have been eclipsed by Crown minister Maurice Williamson's short, irreverent and rollicking speech on Wednesday night. He described how an "enormous big gay rainbow" over his electorate was proof that legalising gay marriage would not cause a drought - as a local minister had claimed.

A video of Mr Williamson's speech has since been watched by 400,000 people online and got him invited to appear on the US talkshow Ellen.

"It's just bizarre," he told TV3. "This is just a speech I went down to the House to deliver. I feel like Gangnam Style now. What am I going to do for an encore?"

He has some way to go. Rapper Psy's new hit Gentleman - just a week old - has been viewed more than 159 million times on YouTube.

- NZ Herald

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