New Zealand MP's Gay Marriage Speech Goes Viral

An MP's hilarious yet touching speech in New Zealand's parliament about legislation that legalised same-sex marriage in the country has become an internet hit.

MP Maurice Williamson poked fun at those who opposed the legislation - which was approved on Wednesday - leaving colleagues in fits of giggles.

"I've had a reverend in my local electorate say, 'The gay onslaught will start the day this law is passed,'" Mr Williamson said.

"Well, we are struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like. We don't know whether it will come down the Pakuranga Highway as a series of troops or whether it will be a gas that flows in over the electorate that blocks us all in."

He continued: "I also 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.

"I haven't done it so I don't know what it's about."

The speech came after Parliament voted 77 to 44 in favour of the gay-marriage bill  on its third and final reading on Wednesday night.

As soon as the result was announced, people watching from the public gallery and some MPs started singing the New Zealand love song "Pokarekare Ana" in the indigenous Maori language.

Mr Williamson, who has three adopted children of his own, joked: "I also had a leader telling 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 will last 2.1 seconds - it's hardly eternity".

After Mr Williamson cracked joke after joke, his speech took a more serious turn.

"All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage," he told parliament.

"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."

On Twitter he underlined the message by posting a picture of a rainbow outside his window.

Many people in New Zealand remain vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

Some 50,000 people signed an anti-legislation petition that was presented to parliament last year by lobbying group Family First. Another 25,000 people have since added their signatures to that petition.

Mr Williamson's address - which American website Gawker called "a speech for the ages" - has been posted on numerous blogs and is being spread via social media sites.

It has more than 50,000 hits on YouTube.