By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com April 19 2013 3:00 PM ET
A member of New Zealand’s Parliament has become an Internet star with a widely shared video of his speech in support of the nation’s new marriage equality law, saying its passage will not cause “skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed.”
Maurice Williams, speaking to Parliament just before the body approved the marriage equality bill Wednesday, noted the many warnings he’d received about dire consequences if he voted for the legislation. He was told he’d burn in hell for eternity, which he figured was an impossibility due to the laws of physics, indicating he’d be ashes after a couple of seconds. A Roman Catholic priest told him he was enabling an unnatural act, which Williams said he had a hard time taking seriously from someone who’d taken a vow of celibacy.
He also said the possibility of same-sex marriage in New Zealand was blamed for the nation’s drought, but he reported that his district had just received a great deal of rain, and “we have the most enormous big gay rainbow.”
Williams is a member of the conservative National Party and is the nation’s minister for customs, building and construction, land information, and statistics. “I might be quite a strong right-winger when it comes to economics, but I’m very liberal on the social policy side,” he said this morning on New Zealand TV program Firstline, which noted he “has become an unlikely gay icon.”
One New York newspaper, he told a Firstline interviewer, even reported that he is gay, which came as a surprise to his wife. He also said he’d had an offer to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but “they want to pay for me to go, and ministers are not allowed to have anyone pay for you, so I can’t go.”
He added that he’s a bit surprised by his new fame: “I feel a little bit like ‘Gangnam Style’ now — what am I going to do for an encore?”
Watch his speech below.