A New Zealand MP whose powerful speech following the country’s vote to legalise equal marriage last week went viral, has been invited onto the Ellen show by host Ellen DeGeneres.
The MP for Pakuranga since 1987, Maurice Williamson, made the speech in parliament following its third and final reading for the bill to allow equal marriage, which passed by 77 votes to 44. It was hailed by Gawker as ”a speech for the ages”, and quickly went viral on social media and other sites.
During the speech, he said: ”I had a Catholic priest tell me I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.”
The speech has been viewed on YouTube over a million times, and attracted the attention of Ellen, who invited him onto her show.
Prime Minister John Key gave his endorsement for Williamson to appear on the show, given that he donate any fee paid by Ellen’s show to charity, as well as declaring any flights and accommodation the show pays for on parliament’s register of pecuniary interests
“While he gave a very humorous speech, there’s a serious message in there and if that helps in terms of New Zealand getting a reputation for being a tolerant, progressive society then I think that’s good for New Zealand.”
He went on to say that he was surprised that Williamson had been hailed as a “gay icon”, but said that he had voted “liberally” on conscience issues.
“He’s been very consistent and he’s always voted liberally, so I don’t think you can say it was a one-off thing,” he said, noting that Williamson would be an ambassador for New Zealand on his trip.
Some have questioned this claim, however, as Williamson voted against the civil unions bill in 2004, and also against several other measures, including one to repeal the death penalty, and an anti-smacking law.
New Zealand last week became the first country in the Asia-Pacific to legalise equal marriage, as well as the third of the 54 Commonwealth member states, and the second of Queen Elizabeth II’s realms, as its parliament voted on Wednesday for the bill 77 to 44.
According to a survey by an equal marriage advocacy group, over a thousand Australian gay and lesbian couples are to travel to New Zealand in order to get married, which could boost the New Zealand economy by around £472 million, they estimated.