Those in the United States who still struggle over how to answer religious objections to marriage equality should take notes from New Zealand’s MP Maurice Williamson.
Before the New Zealand Parliament voted Tuesday 77-44 to approve marriage equality—the 14th country to do so—Williamson took to the podium to deliver a wry, yet compassionate, response to the religious people he’s met who opposed the measure.
I’ve had a reverend in my local electorate say the ‘gay onslaught will start the day this law is passed.’ So, we are struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like. We don’t know if it will come down the Pakaranga highway as a series of troops or whether it will be a gas that flows over the electorate and blocks us all in.
I also had a Catholic priest tell me that I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.
I also had a leader tell me I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity and that was a bad mistake because I’ve got a degree in physics. I used the thermodynamic laws of physics. I put in my body weight and my humidity and so on. I assumed the furnace to be at 5000 degrees and I will last for just on 2.1 seconds.
One of the messages I’d had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. This bill was the cause of our drought. Well if any of you follow my Twitter account, In the Pakuranga electorate this morning, it was pouring with rain, we had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate. It has to be a sign.
He also compassionately addressed those who expressed real concerns.
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 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.
He wrapped up his speech with perhaps the most powerful response to those religiously opposed, quoting Deuteronomy 1:29: “Be ye not afraid.”