SEVENTY-seven of New Zealand's members of parliament yesterday voted in favour of amending the 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry — making it the 13th nation to legalise gay marriage and the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region.
And despite warnings from Christian conservatives that God's wrath would come down on the country like a mountain of manure, life goes on as normal.
Ahead of the vote, parliamentarians were regaled by a speech by Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson who addressed concerns that a vote in favour of marriage equality would led to a "gay onslaught".
Williamson said in this video that among "fire and brimstone" warnings was one from a reverend in his local electorate who said there would be a "gay onslaught" if the equality measure was passed.
We are really struggling to know what the 'gay onslaught' will look like.We don't know whether it will come along the Pakuranga highway with a series of troops, or whether it will be a gas that flows in over the electorate.
He said he also had a Catholic priest tell him that he was supporting a "unnatural act". Roars of laughter came after Williamson said:
I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.
He revealed that he had also received a letter warning that he would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity.
This was a bad mistake as I have a degree in physics.Using the thermodynamic laws of physics, I put in my body weight and humidity and so on, assumed the furnace to be 5,000 degrees and calculated I will last 2.1 seconds. That's hardly eternity.
Williamson said that he found some of the bullying tactics of those opposing gay marriage "really evil", but acknowledged that genuine concerns were expressed. Addressing these, he said:
All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage.That is all we are doing. We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign state.We are not bringing in a virus that could wipe out our agriculture. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognised, and I can't see anything wrong with that for love nor money.
Williamson went on to give a watertight guarantee that:
The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your teenage daughter will still argue back at you as if she knows everything. Your mortgage will not grow. You will not have skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed. The world will just carry on.
He revealed that one letter he received claimed that the bill was the cause of New Zealand's drought.
Well, anyone following my Twitter account will know that in Pakuranga it was pouring with rain this morning and we had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate. It has to be a sign, sir. If you are a believer, it certainly is a sign.
And he concluded, for those who had concerns about the bill, with a quote from Deuteronomy, Chapter 1, v 29:
Be not afraid.
By the way, the irreverent Williamson said he though Deuteronomy was "a cat out of Cats".
When the bill was passed onlookers in the public gallery and some lawmakers celebrated the result by breaking into the Maori love song Pokarekare Ana