‘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:

YouTube Preview Image

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.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Harming others due to your own fear is evil — especially when your own fear is baseless, imaginary, voluntary and unnecessary.

    I love this. Baseless fear is evil in my mind. Caution, due respect for potential danger, anxiety, those are all acceptable. But fear? Fear that drives you to condemn others and lash out at them because you are scared? I find that contemptible.

    I recall the Litany Against Fear from Dune:

    I must not fear.

    Fear is the mind-killer.

    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

    I will face my fear.

    I will punch it in the face and wrestle it to the ground.

    I will beat my fear into a bloody pulp while I scream obscenities at it.

    Where the fear has been reduced to chum there will be nothing……Only I will remain.

    Though I may be misremembering part of that…

  • Jessica_R

    I think my favorite part is his chipper dismissal that he burn in the fires of Hell for eternity by using physics.

  • Ursula L

    It isn’t just that they burst out in song.

    One person, in the gallery, began the song, and others joined in. A love song, suitable for any celebration of marriage.

    We could easily have this in the US. All it takes is one person to start such a song, and others will join. I’d suggest, in a US context, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” It’s not too long, easy to sing, and for a group to sing well in unison, and enough people know it that you’d get a good number of people able to join in.

    Just spread the word – if you are present when a legislative body passes a law for marriage equality, or a court rules in favor of marriage equality, or an executive signs a bill into law, start singing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    > Baseless fear is evil in my mind.

    I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean what I just heard you say.

    I have a lot of baseless fears. Trauma will do that, sometimes.
    I deal with them by separating my decision-making from my emotional reactions.

    I don’t consider them evil, merely unhelpful.

  • Justin

    “We have the most enormous big gay rainbow!”

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I’d go with “You Are My Sunshine”. Partly because of the line “Please don’t take my sunshine away”, and also because I can’t hear “Let Me Ball Call You Sweetheart” without thinking of the bawdy parody.

  • J_Enigma32

    Oh, great. Now there’s going to be cats and dogs sleeping together in the streets, gay unicorns are going to shoot people with queer beams and force straights to engage in teh buttsecks, and the world is going to end because they may Baby Jesus cry.

    Won’t someone, just for once, think of how the world feels about being forced to end every time a country legalizes Teh Ghey? This is what now, the 8th or 9th time? You libruls claim to be so tolerant, but at the same time, you have no problems forcing cats and dogs to sleep together, and you’re all for men marrying toasters, which is exactly what’s going to happen, since you made me and my pasto… er, God angry.

    In all seriousness, congrats New Zealand – it just makes me wish I could afford a visit (and by visit, I mean extended stay and possible citizenship).

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Three huzzahs for Williamson and for the New Zealand legislature!

  • Victor Savard

    (((Be ye not afraid’:)))

    Fred! I’m not affffraiddddd but long story sort, the hackers, I guess won’t let me comment here on my own computer at home and longer story short, YouTube has created a special site for me when I click on my name but that’s only if I accept their offer NOW.

    I hear YA sinner vic! Don’t be so paranoid Victor and stop believing what your friend The Right Honourabe Pierre E. Trudeau (God Bless his soul) said in so many words stuff like: Just because you’re paranoid, “IT” doesn’t mean that no “ONE” is out to get YA. What do Canadien Prime Minister know anyway NOW!

    Go Figure NOW! :)

    Peace

  • DreadPirateZed

    I remember it like this:

    I must drink beer.
    Beer is the mind killer.
    Beer is the little death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my beer.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me, and when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    When the beer is gone, there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.
    http://www.goats.com/archive/990517.html

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Now there’s going to be cats and dogs sleeping together in the streets, gay unicorns are going to shoot people with queer beams and force straights to engage in teh buttsecks…

    Yes! This exact thing happened in Canada in 2005!

    The cats and dogs sleeping together look like this: http://talbotspy.com/files/2012/06/cat_and_dog-sleepingtogether.jpg

    And the gay unicorns look like this (NSFW): http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lhg67rOuCg1qf14s6.jpg

    You have been warned.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Emotions aren’t choices nor do they choose. Emotions can’t be evil. Actions can be evil.

  • sara

    I’ve watched this at least four times now. I love it so much. :)

  • Jamoche

    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

  • We Must Dissent

    “You Are My Sunshine” is a poor choice, I think. Everyone knows the chorus, but the lyrics are about someone having left the singer.

    “The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping \ I dreamt I held you in my arms \ When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken \ So I hung my head, and I cried”

  • Carstonio

    I’m feeling surly after the defeat of Manchin-Toomey and the cowardice of the Democratic senators who wouldn’t buck the NRA, so I’ll say that Williamson’s laudatory rhetoric mocks people who don’t exist. I don’t believe for one fucking minute that the chicken-little panic of equality opponents is genuine. No rational adult could be stupid enough to believe that those apocalyptic scenarios would actually happen, and I’m personally insulted that they expect me to accept them as sincere. They’re really making a play for sympathy for having their privilege taken away. Fuck that. Suffer, assholes. I’d actually pay for gay men to proposition these pustules out of principle.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Huh… okay, I hadn’t known the rest of the song.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Quick question … “Toads in your beard”? Is that a reference to Biblical plagues or Edward Lear? (No, I guess that was all birds building nests in Lear.)

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I can’t speak for Fred, but I wouldn’t categorize what you describe as “baseless”. The trauma was real, even if the fears it caused aren’t necessarily connected to probable future outcomes. But I think your response highlights a need to differentiate between “fear based on real experience but not a predictor of future outcomes” and “fear based on nothing but learned bigotry.”

    In any case, the evil comes not from experiencing the fear – any fear at all – but from using fear as a rationale for hurting people. And those I know who suffer from PTSD – unlike those who learned bigotry-based fears – strive not to hurt people.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    “Daisy, Daisy” with the second verse included for maximum loving hilarity.

  • Ursula L

    A troll, I know, but I’m in the mood to play…

    Same-sex marriage is an injustice, an insult to the noble faculty of reason, and an absolute mockery of: the Laws of Nature, civil society, and the preservation and perfection of mankind.

    Cite please?

    The broken families which same-sex marriages purposely create are necessarily vicious toward those naturally occurring consanguineous obligations between family members from which nations, sociability, and benevolence have naturally emanated.

    Again, cite please?

    The place where I live has had legal marriage equality for a while. And I do not know of any pre-existing marriages which were broken because someone wanted to marry a random person of the same sex as they were rather than the individual they had already chosen to marry.

    No one marries a person just because they are of a particular gender. At least in our culture. They marry a person because they are a singular individual, the one person, at that moment in time, whom they want to marry.

    Children are not pets one purchases from rescue shelters(adoption clinics) and puppy mills(insemination and surrogacy). Children are human beings endowed with a natural desire to be procreated from an engendered act of love between a husband and a wife. Same-sex marriage is adulterous by nature and thereby destructive to not only children, but to our civilization.

    So, do you believe that an opposite-sex married couple should not be allowed to adopt children who have experienced the tragedy of having both of their parents die? That orphaned children, without parents to care for them, should be left to starve and beg on the street, because if someone who wanted to care for a child should adopt them,they would be reduced to the status of a shelter kitten?

    Same-sex marriage proponents demand “Marriage Equality”, yet, in return, they offer less-than-equal protection of the child’s happiness than can be afforded by the presence of both biological parents.

    Do you know of any child who has been put up for adoption or adopted when they had two biological parents who are alive and love them and want to care for them and have the physical, economic, emotional and social resources to care for them, and who do not have an established record of harming the child rather than caring for the child?

    I don’t.

    Children who are up for adoption are children who don’t have safe biological parents who are available to care for them.

    That is the point of adoption, that people who want to care for children are allowed to care for children who don’t have anyone safe to care for them.

    Same-sex proponents profess that it is love which gives the right to join the institution of marriage, yet, in doing so, they selfishly violate the principle loving objective of this noble institution; to protect a child’s Natural Right to be raised by both biological parents.

    Same-sex marriage is not justice in the eyes of a child. Same-sex marriage is an abuse of power, a tyrannical subversion of the fundamental principles of marriage and the duties which it enjoins; contrary to the nature and state of man, same-sex marriage is merely the unwarranted whims of an ignorant and selfish generation whose conduct is nothing less that an embarrassment to the dignity of mankind.

    Again, cite please?

    Here are two truths regarding marriage: (1) A man creating a family with another man is not equal to creating a family with a woman,

    Of course not!

    If someone wants to create a family with their beloved, than any merely potential family they might potentially create with any other person, of the same or the opposite sex, is inferior to the loving relationship they already have.

    If someone wants to create a family with a person of the same sex whom they love and trust and care for, than any potential relationship with a person of the opposite sex, or a different person of the same sex, is inferior, in the context of their life, to the loving relationship they actually enjoy.

    and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

    Again, cite please?

    In fine, same-sex marriage is an unnatural extravagance which the supporters most ignorantly claim to be a “right”.

    Seeing the various marriage-related reality shows of TLC these days, I’m inclined to think that getting married, in general, is an unnatural extravagance.

    Adults agreeing to form a partnership to care for each other, to work together to protect their mutual resources, and to share those resources, is completely natural. .

    “No one has a right to do that which, if everybody did it, would destroy society.” —Immanuel Kant

    Of course. No one has a right to marry someone who does not want to marry them – arranged marriages without mutual consent are wrong. No one has the right to be forced to marry someone they don’t want to.

    But society isn’t destroyed,or even harmed in the slightest, most paper-cut mild way, when two individuals who actually want to marry each other actually get married.

    Even if absolutely everyone only marries the individual whom they actually want to marry and who actually wants to marry them.

  • Ursula L

    Pretty much any well-known song will have unofficial naughty lyrics. It is what people in the choir do in their spare time, right down to little old church ladies adding “between the sheets” to the end of hymn titles.

    So figure out the love songs which are easy for spontaneous group singing, with or without naughty alternative lyrics that you know of, and which a lot of other people are likely to be familiar enough with to join in singing, and if you are there, in the right time and place, start singing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke
  • PatBannon

    A stirring rebuttal.

  • magpie

    It sounded like he said ‘toads in your bed’, to me.

  • reynard61

    I prefer these lyrics:

    “The other night dear, as I was sleeping \ I dreamt I held you in my arms \ But when I woke up, you were a pillow \ Please don’t take my sunshine away”

  • Joshua

    Yay! I think this is great.

    This bill was actually kicked off by Louisa Wall, a Labour MP, centre-left and currently the main opposition party.

    Whereas most votes in parliament are very much on party lines – if you vote against your party that’s a career limiting move – social and moral issues are usually “conscience votes”. The party hierarchy doesn’t declare a position, leaving it up to individual MPs’ consciences.

    Another recent conscience vote was the one to decriminalise prostitution, ten years ago. There were tears and hugs in the House when that passed, too.

    This is the first opposition-led bill to be passed since the current government took office about, um, five years ago.

    And hello again. Been a while since I last commented.

  • http://twitter.com/tslumley Thomas Lumley

    That’s a great idea, but it isn’t quite what happened in the NZ Parliament. The Speaker mentioned that there was going to be a ‘waiata’ — a closing song that’s part of formal Maori protocol — so this was planned at least by a group of people.

    It’s still notable, for the choice of song, for the fact that so many joined in, and because the other occasions I know of when there was a waiata after a Parliamentary vote were all bills of special significance to Maori (treaty settlements).

  • Aaron

    Here in New Zealand it is becoming more and more common for songs to be a part of official ceremonies. This is because Waiata are an integral part of Maori Speech making protocol, so the tradition is spreading. I’m fairly sure many of the people spectating knew someone was going to start singing.

    That said, I’m sure many did not, and they will have joined in. Same thing happens at many ceremonies around the country. Singing is a good thing, isn’t it?

    When the Speaker of the House says there will be a Waiata, but asks people to remain calm so they can conclude the official business, he was warning that this song was coming :)

  • AnonaMiss

    Do we have any Texans in the community? I hope everyone’s safe after the explosion at Waco.

    CN: Heartbreaking pleading of a child, watch without sound to avoid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROrpKx3aIjA

  • AnonaMiss

    “No one has a right to do that which, if everybody did it, would destroy society.” —Immanuel Kant

    And if everybody went to the same restaurant on the same evening and ordered blintzes, there’d be chaos. But they don’t.

    - Sonya, Love and Death, Woody Allen

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    The cats and dogs sleeping together look like this

    They’re not just sleeping together, they’re are arm in arm. Truly we are damned.

  • Carstonio

    Only one thing missing from your otherwise excellent rebuttal: The unstated and baseless assumption in the original rant is that same-sex marriage automatically leads to parenthood. Millions of opposite-sex couples choose not to have children after they marry. Same-sex couples can’t reproduce on their own. Is the ranter expecting adoption agencies to be besieged with same-sex married couples demanding children? I’ve suspected for a while that this has little to do with the supposed welfare of the children. It’s probably much more about men fearing for their privilege in the face of two-mommy households, holding onto the gender-essentialist belief that all women seek to become mothers.

  • Ursula L

    A Waiata? How very cool!

    I knew that the Speaker was letting people know that something was coming, after procedures were finished. But the cheering and the song seemed, to me, to be interrupting, despite his request for no interruptions, so I thought that he was talking about something else.

  • Lori

    And of course the Kant quote doesn’t really apply in any case. The only reason bigots think that it does is because they’re obsessively focused on the sex. The issue is not about everyone marrying someone of the same sex. The issue is equality before the law and everyone being able to marry the person they love and with whom they wish to create a family*.

    Having everyone treated equally by the law and able to marry for love is not going to destroy society Creating and perpetuating a group of 2nd class citizens just might.

    *A family can be just 2 people. Once you’ve made a commitment to create “us” instead of being “me” and “you”, you’re a family. Children are not required for a family. Most families want them, but they’re not a requirement.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Couple quick things:

    1. I like that even the opponents are calling same-sex marriage by its name now. Even as they try to oppose it they are losing by having to fight on the terms of the pro-SSM folks. :)

    2. The alarmism of anti-SSM folks is becoming observably increasingly absurd and I think the whole thing will fall by its own weight eventually.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    I agree completely that hurting people unjustifiably (whether due to fear or not) is a bad act, and I expect this is most likely what FearlessSon had in mind.

    That said, the distinction you wish to draw doesn’t work for me, because learned bigotry is itself frequently based on real experience.

    If I grow up in a family that believed black people to be inferior to white people, for example, that experience may lead me to be racist. In that case I really did experience growing up in that family. The problem is, my brain implements racism as a response to that experience when racism is not justified.

    If I am abused as a child by another man, that experience might lead me to be homophobic. Again, I really did experience same-sex abuse, even if the resulting fear is not justified by probably future outcomes.

    Neither of those strike me as different-in-kind from being hit by a red sportscar as a kid and thereafter being terrified of the color red. Ultimately, I don’t care too much how the aversion developed.

    In all three cases, it is important for me to learn to distinguish my emotional reactions from my beliefs about the world. I may never stop respond to red things, or gay men, or black people, with those negative emotions… but that doesn’t have to stop me from acknowledging the realities underlying race, sexual orientation, or the color red and acting accordingly.

    And ought not.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Hmm. Original comment’s been deleted.

    (Content Note: child abuse)

    Excellent reply. Another thing that struck me: attitudes like the troll’s (“Children must stay with their biological parents! Every child inherently wants this!”) are often what keeps children from being rescued from abusive households — even, sadly, when the child him or herself repeatedly pleads to be taken away.

    I think if you offered a child a choice between being raised by biological parents who horribly mistreat them, and being raised by adoptive parents who love and nurture them, they’d pick the latter.

    Also: comparing surrogacy and artificial insemination to puppy mills? What the actual fuck?

  • Translator

    In the quote block above the eighth last word should be bed. An understandable mistranslation for persons unaccustomed to a Kiwi accent. Source: I’m Australian.

  • vega

    Victor- if YouTube is behaving as you describe, it sounds like you might have a browser redirect virus. Try downloading and running Malwarebytes.

  • Ursula L

    Logically, I’d say you are right.

    When I was growing up, with loving parents, I would have said you are right – could I bear it if my parents were cruel to me?

    But, as an adult, having seen children fight to stay with, and protect, even awful parents, and seeing the adult children of abusive parents still spend enormous amounts of energy trying to help their parents, I’d have to say you are wrong.

    If children are with a set of caregivers up until an age where they can recognize those people, they will be loyal, even if treated badly.

    And a big part of caring for children of abusive parents needs to be about recognizing their bond with their parents, and helping them honor that bond the way they want to, even as we try to protect them from the consequences of the fact that their parents do not honor their responsibilities to the child.

    The children of abusive parents need their feelings honored, even, and perhaps especially, ,when those feelings aren’t logical from the outside.

  • Aaron

    Yeah, it did have that feel. I still think it’s awesome that we include singing in our ceremonies now, and I hope it continues to grow more common!

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    But, as an adult, having seen children fight to stay with, and protect, even awful parents, and seeing the adult children of abusive parents still spend enormous amounts of energy trying to help their parents, I’d have to say you are wrong.

    If children are with a set of caregivers up until an age where they can recognize those people, they will be loyal, even if treated badly.

    I have heard of a few cases in which a child told people, “Please don’t make me stay with mommy”, and this was ignored, with tragic results. They emphasized that this was quite rare — most of the time, it is as you say.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    I did wonder just what this was a response to
    EDIT: Silly face smilies have no place in a reply to a post about child abuse, Riast.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Welcome back. We still don’t want to be killed with sheep.

  • Ursula L

    Hmm… So was the planned waiata that the Speaker referred to this song, or was this song an interruption, and there was even more planned, official singing later?

  • Joshua

    My sheep are quite harmless, I assure you. Unless you try to catch one for vaccinations or something. They can drag me to the ground, and I’m 6’3″ and not slightly built.

  • Joshua

    Seconded. I’m an actual Kiwi.

  • Paul

    So the Sodomites can use Celebrants and won’t force Pastors to marry them……… Rear Right.

  • P J Evans

    A little late, since Sodom disappeared many. many centuries ago.


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