‘Be ye not afraid’: Kiwi MP’s terrific speech on marriage equality

Here, via Steve Benen, is the Hon. Maurice Williamson speaking in favor of marriage equality in New Zealand’s parliament. He represents Pakuranga for the National Party, which is a “centre-right” party in NZ.

Williamson mocks the  apocalyptic, chicken-little panic of equality opponents and then forcefully promises to them that their fears are unfounded. “Don’t make this into a big deal,” he said. “This is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.”

All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage. That is all we are doing. We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign state. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agriculture sector forever. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognized, and I can’t see what’s wrong with that for love nor money, sir. I just cannot. I cannot understand why someone would be opposed. I understand why people don’t like what it is that others do. That’s fine. We’re all in that category. But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill, right now. I give you a watertight, guaranteed promise. The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything. Your mortgage will not grow. You will not have skin diseases or rashes, or toads in your beard, sir. The world will just carry on.

The whole speech is only about four minutes long, so watch the whole thing:

I love the indomitably cheerful anger of this speech. For all his joking, Williamson is clearly — and rightly — angry that the unfounded fears and panic of some should be allowed to deny basic rights to others. And he’s angry at the “bullying tactics” that fear inspired, calling them “really evil.” That’s right. Harming others due to your own fear is evil — especially when your own fear is baseless, imaginary, voluntary and unnecessary.

The vote for marriage equality in New Zealand passed 77 to 44, after which hugs and flowers were distributed in parliament and spectators and ministers broke out in song, the Maori love song “Pokarekare Ana.”

As Steve Benen notes, it’s hard to imagine the U.S. Congress bursting into song after passing a bill. That’s partly because it’s hard to imagine the U.S. Congress at this point passing a bill at all, and partly because the fear-mongers Williamson denounces have come to dominate American politics so much that our lawmakers never get to celebrate actions that are “fantastic for the people they affect” without having to pretend that some other faction will be sorely aggrieved.

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  • The_L1985

    I love that second verse!

  • The_L1985

    The best irreverent choir-practice outburst I know (the hymn in question is the Catholic hymn for Lent, “Turn To Me”):

    Choir director: “Now, let’s start with verse 2: ‘I am God.'”
    Tenor: “Hi God, I’m [name].”